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Patrick Cooper

Slow motion with consumer camcorders

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Firstly, when it comes to slow motion, I come from a film background. One of the valued assets of my Canon 1014E super 8 camera is that it can run at 54fps for beautifully smooth slow motion. I also have a K3 16mm camera that has a top speed of 48fps though I haven't run it at that particular speed.


Ive also seen some impressive results with high end video - namely high speed cameras - and now it seems that some semi-pro (prosumer) cameras offer high frame rates amongst their assorted features. Regardless if you shoot slow motion with film or professional video formats, the concept is the same - slow motion is produced simply because the display rate / projection speed is slower than the filming speed. And although I'm happy with the results that I get with shooting at high frame rates, I am curious at how consumer video cameras achieve slow motion (particularly 1990s models.) I do believe there are some current consumer models that do possess high frame rates (but at a drastically reduced resolution.)


As far as I am aware, a lot of those cameras from the 90s do not run at high frame rates. They use some alternative means to create slow motion footage. At a camera trade show I attended in the 1990s, one rep told me that to record slow motion with the video cameras that he had on display, one must select a slow shutter speed. This really puzzled me. Why would selecting a slow shutter speed produce slow motion footage? When you reduce the shutter speed, all that happens is that more light enters through the lens to 'expose' the CCD, and there is the inevitable increase in motion blur with moving subjects. When shooting a short film at University on DVCam, we did select a slow shutter speed to record a scene in a dimly lit room. This worked great for the low light conditions but there was no slow motion, nor would I expect any. Similar deal with super 8 cameras that have an XL shutter - the shutter has a larger 'open angle', allowing more light through to expose the film, ideal also for low light shooting but of course no slow motion. So how do these consumer video cameras acheive slow motion by using slow shutter speeds? I can't wrap my head around the concept.

Edited by Patrick Cooper

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