Vision Research isn’t in the business of making boring old “regular” cameras. It’s the leading maker of high-speed digital cameras, and the latest Phantom v2640 is really something else. This camera records at greater-than-HD resolution, but that’s not the impressive part. No, the impressive part is that it records at greater than HD resolution at a mind-boggling 6,600 frames per second. You can push it even higher at lower resolutions.
The Phantom v2640 has a 4MP CMOS image sensor, which might not sound like a lot. However, it’s capable of capturing at the full resolution of that sensor at the aforementioned 6,600fps. That’s a resolution of 2048 x 1952. If you turn it down to full HD (1080p), the Phantom v2640 is capable of 11,750fps. At standard definition (480p), you can record at 28,760 frames per second. The video below was captured at about 17,000 fps. The maximum throughput of the Phantom v2640 is 26 gigapixels per second.
Vision Research offers the Phantom v2640 in both color and monochrome versions. The camera offers a dynamic range of 64dB — that’s over ten stops. The monochrome version has a higher ISO of 16,000, making it better for extreme low-light in the so-called “binning” mode. The color sensor is closer to the ISO you’d expect on a regular camera at 3,200.
The internal storage is configurable at the time of purchase with 72GB, 144GB, and 288GB options. Even the maximum storage option won’t hold a ton of video when you’re recording at thousands of frames per second. So, the camera also supports Vision Research’s CineMag IV swappable high-speed storage disks for an additional 1-2TB of space.
You can get PC accessories to read the CineMags like you would an SD card from a normal camera, but the camera also supports 10Gbps direct Ethernet transfers via the included cable. That’s not a standard cable, though. One end is a proprietary Fischer plug and the other is Ethernet.
The Phantom v2640 isn’t terribly portable with a weight of 17 pounds, but it does come with a custom Pelican hard case for travel. That’s really the least Vision Research can do when you buy the camera — it’s extremely expensive. The base model with just 72GB of storage runs $ 135,000 and the best model costs $ 175,000. A single 1TB CineMag IV will run you almost $ 12,000. None of that should come as a shock, as the Phantom v2640 isn’t exactly a consumer device. It’s aimed mostly at filmmakers and researchers.