SDK - FAQ
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Where can I find more detailed information?
Please visit http://wiki.edgertronic.com for operating instructions, specifications, tips and techniques etc. The wiki is a work in progress. If you feel that something is missing or unclear, send us an email and we'll work to improve the wiki.
Why should I buy the edgertronic?
We have more products in the development pipeline related to high speed photography and buying this camera will help us continue to disrupt aspects of high speed digital photography. Also, each camera helps keep manufacturing jobs here in America as each camera is fabricated in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Why is there no option for international shipping?
We are a small company, and export involves a level of complexity (customs, duties, insurance, warranty support, regulatory requirements, languages etc.) that we simply don't have the resources for. As a result, we only ship cameras to addresses in the US.
Further, we are not an importer, and cannot accept any returns, warranty of otherwise, that comes directly from outside of the US and requires us to fill out or sign any customs forms.
Which lens mounts are supported?
We did a lot of research and the Nikon F Mount is the only logical choice. If you bear with me, I'll explain why:
First, high speed cameras need fast lenses because at high frame rates and/or short exposures, you can never have too much light.
Second, auto focus and auto exposure just don't work when you're doing high speed video. Imagine photographing a car crash test. Even if auto-focus was fast enough, what if it focused on the flying hubcap and blurred out the passenger compartment? Fail!
So we need fast manual focus/aperture lenses, but which mount to pick?
Over the years companies have developed a lot of 35mm lens mounts. Here're the ones that have a long enough flange focal distance to work with our camera: Canon FD, Minolta SR, Pentax K, M42, Contax C/Y, Olympus OM, Nikon F, Leica R
Of these, only the Nikon F and Leica R are in current production. The rest are only discontinued and only available on the used market.
What about Canon EF/EF-S (EOS) mount?
Except for the $5K and up Cine lenses, Canon has never made a fully manual lens in this mount. None. Never.
We want to put the camera in the hands of as many videographers as possible. What happens when all the quality used lenses are gone? Sure there millions out there, but most are sitting forgotten in some basement with fungus, sticky diaphragms or some other problem that makes them worthless. We needed to design the camera around a manual lens mount that is supported in the foreseeable future
So our choices are down to two: Nikon F or Leica R. Most Leica R lenses cost more than the camera and are overkill for this application, so by process of elimination we're down to one lens mount: Nikon F
Take a look at BH Photo and you'll see that this mount is still supported by Nikon, Zeiss, Samyang, Bower and others. It's popular in industrial machine vision, scientific and medical markets, and it's going to be around for a while.
Even Olympus uses the Nikon F mount on its I-Speed brand high speed video cameras.
Why is there a monochrome option?
This is an excellent question.
First, let's talk about light. In high speed video, you can never have too much light. I've taken videos at 4658 fps, 10us exposure, full sun and could have used more light for better depth of focus. Repeat … you can't have too much light.
The sensors used in the color and monochrome are virtually identical. The only difference is the color sensor has a Bayer grid RGB filter and the monochrome does not. This filter allows the sensor to detect different colors, but there is a trade-off. The filter blocks a lot of light and makes the color sensor 2 f-stops less sensitive. In addition, the image processing algorithms needed to separate the Bayer grid color data causes a decrease in resolvable resolution.
In short, the monochrome camera is 2 f-stops faster and produces slightly sharper images. In some applications this can make all the difference.
If you're a dog and can't see color anyway, get the monochrome. You can never have too much light.
If you're an artist or DP you'll want color. You'll need to buy more lights.
If you are in the scientific, industrial or research, the choice is up to you. Color vs light sensitivity and resolution.
How easy is it to use?
If you understand basic photograpic principals like ISO, shutter speed, aperture, and image resolution you can operate the edgertronic. The default settings get you started quickly, from there the user can then adjust the settings and immediately preview changes on their browser. Between video captures, the camera is in a real-time/viewfinder mode that lets the user setup the shot. The user interface is simply a Chrome web browser so no extra software needs to be loaded.
What makes it a real slow motion camera?
In short, it comes down to the sensor. Like many things, the design of an image sensor involves many tradeoffs: light sensitivity, noise, size and readout speed are the main ones. It is not possible to take great slow motion videos with a sensor optimized for still photography. Similarly, you can’t take great stills with a sensor optimized for slow motion video. All of the existing consumer and prosumer cameras use sensors optimized for the still end of the spectrum and it is a good choice for that market.
Readout speed is the primary difference between slow motion sensors and other sensors. Our sensor reads data out at ~1 GByte/sec. It’s necessary for slow motion, but comes at a price: higher power, more image noise, complicated interfaces, and hard to design an image processor to handle all that data so quickly.
A global shutter is the second difference. A global shutter exposes all the pixels simultaneously, just like an intra-element leaf shutter in a still camera. All consumer and prosumer cameras with a CMOS sensor have a rolling shutter. Just like a focal plane shutter, different pixels in the image are exposed at different times. This is what causes the jello effect or the bizarre distortion is the image below. So, why don’t all cameras have a global shutter? It’s a tradeoff: global shutters are more expensive, higher noise, less sensitive to light and lower resolution. Rolling shutters work OK as long as there isn’t a lot of movement, but we’re making a slow motion camera. We want a lot of movement.
The link below demonstrates why you never want a rolling shutter in a real high-speed camera: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Turboprop_Rolling_Shutter.jpg
Can't I just get the same effects with a Canon D7 and Twixtor?
Not really. to understand why we need to understand what exactly is happening in the D7 + Twixtor case:
The Canon D7 is a great camera and shoots beautiful video, but it only takes 60 frames per second, or one frame every 16.66 ms. Let’s call these keyframes.
Twixtor is program that uses computer interpolation to create new frames based on a guess of what happened between the keyframes. It’s no different than image morphing software that can turn a butterfly into a dog. In the middle of the morph, the half butterfly, half dog it’s just the program’s best guess of what a butterfly-dog would look like. It’s not real, but it looks convincing. Similarly, when creating a 960 frame per second slow motion effect, the 15 new frames that Twixtor creates between each keyframe aren’t real, they’re just a guess as to what happened between the keyframes.
Sometimes Twixtor works OK. Consider a bicycle stunt, where the bike is in the air for about a second. In this case, you’ll get about 60 keyframes and the bike’s motion is rather fluid. Thats enough keyframes, combined with the predictable motion of the bike, for Twixtor to create a rather convincing slow motion video.
Sometimes Twixtor doesn’t work. Take the case of a firecracker. In one keyframe it’s intact and in the next keyframe, it’s entirely gone. What happened in between is lost information and it impossible for Twixtor to create the frames showing how the firecracker blows up.
This is an example of an important concept in information theory. Once data is lost due to sampling or quantization, it can’t be recovered. Cliff Notes work by throwing away data. This is great if you haven’t read the book and the test is tomorrow, but you’ll never know what exactly happened on page 52 of Hamlet.
Why slow motion?
Slow Motion is used in industry to design and maintain high speed production equipment. Jams, stoppages and other hiccups can be clearly seen and corrected when the motion is slowed down.
Slow motion is an important tool for coaches and athletes alike. Slow motion can help perfect a tennis serve, a high dive or even a skateboard stunt.
Slow Motion is educational and insightful. In slow motion, a slinky behaves in an unexpected fashion and provides a lesson in physics and wave propagation.
Slow motion is used to make products safer. In a crash test, slow motion allows safety features, like airbags, to be optimized for maximum effectiveness.
Slow Motion is essential in the entertainment arts. Discovery Channel can't go for more than a few minutes without cutting to a slow motion clip.
Slow Motion makes everyday occurrences visible. Seeing how water drops splash isn't very practical, but it's both cool and beautiful.
When did you first get interested in slow motion and why?
Around 1975, I saw some high speed photographs taken by MIT’s Doc Edgerton in a magazine. This combined my interests in electronics and photography. I wanted to know how Doc took the photos, and how I could take my own as well.
The electronic strobes Doc used were quite specialized and expensive. As a kid in high school, there was no way I could afford one, but I thought I might be able to modify a consumer grade electronic flash to do nearly the same thing. After some trial and error, I had a high speed electronic strobe and an acoustic trigger to fire the strobe at the precise instant.
My father was an avid golfer, and I had the high speed equipment, so let’s go hit some balls:
I sent the photo to Doc Edgerton, along with a letter saying I'm applying to MIT and I hoped I'd get to meet him.
A few years later, I'm taking Doc's Strobe Lab course, and I wanted to see what happens when you put a thousand amps through a hair thin piece of wire. Hint: the wire goes away real quick. Doc dusted off an old TRW Image Converter camera and said "It hasn't worked since that H-bomb test, but if you can fix it you can use it.” I got it working and took some interesting sub-microsecond pictures with it.
How do I setup the edgertronic for use?
Attach lens and put camera on a tripod. Configure computer or LAN network (instructions provided with camera) Connect camera to computer or LAN Connect power to camera Browse to the camera’s IP address using the Chrome browser You’re ready to start shooting
What supporting hardware / software do I need?
A desktop or laptop computer with Google Chrome browser An ethernet port or a LAN router running a DHCP server A tripod Good natural light or studio lighting as needed
How does the buffer work and how long can the video be?
When the camera is in preview mode, RAW video frames are continuously stored to the 8GB ring buffer. This buffer will hold at least 8 seconds of video (longer if the frame rate is set to less than the maximum for that resolution). The pretrigger and duration settings in the UI are used to calculate how many frames are to be stored after the trigger event. When a trigger occurs, the camera stops after this number of frames has been stored. This is how the camera can capture video before and after the trigger event. For example, if the user sets the duration to 8 seconds and the pretrigger to 25%, there will be 2 seconds of video before the trigger and 6 seconds after.
Why doesn't the edgertonic have USB3.0, GigE, eSATA, SDI, HDMI etc.?
The edgertronic design goals were simple: design the smallest, lightest, lowest cost, easiest to use, straight-up high-speed video camera, and bring it to market quickly.
The interfaces listed above are typical of the status quo in high speed video cameras. We're not making a $100K complex beast, bristling with all sorts of controls and interfaces, that's intended to plug into a huge TV studio suite. We're changing the rules.
We could have added some or all of the above interfaces, but it wouldn't have made the camera faster or better, or able to do anything new. It just would be bigger, heavier, cost more and taken longer to develop.
What will you be adding in future software releases?
The edgertronic is designed so that future SW releases can be downloaded and easily installed. We have had at least 7 software releases, with new features and enhancements being added on a regular basis.
You can find details on what changes were made to each release and also the list of most requested features on the Software Releases and Anticipated Features page in the techinical wiki.
Your edgertronic high-speed video camera (camera) is backed by a USA limited warranty (warranty), offered by Sanstreak Corp (manufacturer), on cameras shipped to and received from destinations within the US.. The warranty covers manufacturing defects for a period of one year, beginning on the date the camera is purchased. The warranty does not cover cosmetic issues (fit, finish etc.) which do not affect the operation or use of the product. The warranty does not cover shipping, fees, duties and/or other expenses related to transporting the camera to and/or from the manufacturer for warranty related matters.
We founded this company with the goal of making high speed video accessible to a broader market. We are a maker of specialized products that are built to order in modest production runs for a select few. We sell direct, and our low overhead and clever design allow us to pass on the savings to our customers. As a result, we have a very limited return policy.
Our complete warranty and return policies can be found at: