The Casio Exilim EX-F1 Camera (Projects)

The EX-F1 is an amazing new $1000 digital camera from Casio. What sets it apart from the herd is that it can record high-speed video (I call it “Mythbusters-mode”) at 300, 600 and even 1200 frames per second.

That means when you play it back, you see it slowed down 10, 20 or 40 times!

As soon as I heard about this camera, I knew I had to get one. It would be just perfect for getting great footage of combat robotics.

I am still exploring the limits of what it is capable of doing, but here are a few videos that showcase its capabilities.

Diet Coke & Mentos

Attack of the Spud Gun

A Symphony of Failure

Carolina Combat, a ballet of robotic destruction

RoboGames 2008 Greatest Hits

I also have high-speed videos of many of the individual fights from RoboGames 2008 available.

A few things I've learned

First of all, this camera is light-hungry. This is not unexpected; if it's operating at 10x normal speed, each frame gets 1/10th of the regular amount of light. Outdoors, in decent sunlight, it has no problems capturing good video at all three high-speed settings.

Indoors is another story. You need to flood the subject with as much light as you can, and it has to be a light source that does not suffer from AC flicker - so florescent is right out. Fortunately, the cheapest source of high-intensity light, the good old-fashioned halogen worklight, gets hot and stays hot, and does not flicker.

However, you need a lot of them. In the Carolina Combat robotic video (above), the main arena had 10 500-watt worklights, and it was barely enough to do 300 fps video. The best results came in the small 8×8 insect arena, which had 5 worklights in it. That was enough to (just barely) do even 1200 fps.

For indoor photography, therefore, I would recommend at least 1 500-watt halogen worklight for each 4×4 area of floor surface, as well as light-colored surfaces that will maximize the light bounce.

Secondly, working with a camera blind to kill reflections off the lexan may be required. In the Carolina Combat videos, you can see flicker in the video from the big arena. This was caused (I think), by bounce off flickering room lights. However, a traditional blind similar to the ones I use for tripod mounted cameras might not be the best bet for this camera, because you're often better off hand-holding it, which allows for faster camera movements. So I'm thinking that some sort of hood that I can get right underneath might be better.