Why High Speed Slow-mo Cameras are So Expensive?

Slow motion cameras

Slow-motion videos are simply dope. Even simple footage looks super intensified in slow motion. It feels all good and dandy unless you know the price of slow-motion cameras. For example, The Flex 4K’s price ranges from 109,000 to 164,900 dollars, depending on the configuration. But why are slow-motion cameras so expensive? And are they worth the money? In this article, we are going to answer all questions.

Technological Aspects

Unlike the typical DSLR or mirrorless camera, slow-motion cameras need distinct and sophisticated components to function fast and accurately. For example, the Phantom TMX 5010 comes with a sensor that has a throughput rate of 50 GigaPixel per second and can shoot a jaw-dropping 1.16 million frames per second, whereas a usual mirrorless camera can shoot around 120 or more or fewer frames per second.

And this is not just about the frames. Each frame has colors and other information, which the slow-motion sensor has to capture at an insanely rapid pace. Besides, high-end slow-motion cameras also have to maintain adequate resolution per frame. Such as Phantom TMX 7510 provides a whopping 76,000 frames per second at 1280 by 800 resolution.

So it is needless to say that high-speed cameras generate a huge amount of data in each second. And the tale doesn’t just end here. This enormous amount of data needs to be processed thoroughly, which requires a high-speed and extremely powerful processor. And after processing, those data need to be stored in very fast memory. If we take a look at the Phantom TMX 5010 camera, it features up to 512GB of high-speed RAM. If you only consider the Ram portion, the high price of slow-motion cameras will slowly start to get justified to you.

Now the question is – where did this high-end sensor, powerful processor, and high-speed storage option come from? The answer is- all of it took a lot of effort in research and development. And a lot of investment has been made by those slow-motion camera manufacturing companies into their R&D.

Slow motion cameras ram
Slow motion cameras can feature up to 512GB of high-speed RAM

Demand in Specialized Fields

Slow-motion videos are stunning. Everything looks super-hyped in slow motion. For example, a drop of water may be a trivial incident. But when you see it in slow motion, it seems like quite a lot is happening at the same time. 

However, do we need those super slow-motion videos every day? No, we shoot only a handful of videos in slow motion, and those are not that super slow-motion quality which we usually see in cameras like Phantom Flex 4k. For most of the people out there, 120 frames per second or so would be enough for making slow-motion videos.

So, where exactly do those extreme higher frame rates are required? Well, those are usually used in observing chemical reactions, automotive crash testing, high-speed research of flames, fluids, and heat, military, high-speed machine vision, and of course, the Hollywood. All those are big Budget projects and require a high level of accuracy, which can be achieved through top-notch High-speed cameras like Phantom Flex and others.

Smaller Market Demand

From the discussion so far, it has been clear that the Slow-motion cameras require more time and budget to manufacture. And Sales is the main way to exchange the money, time, and labor, both mental and physical, invested. But unfortunately, Slow motion cameras are not a fast-moving product like a regular DSLR or mirrorless camera. They are not used as much as a regular camera. And bulk usage is usually required in specialized fields. When the sales are low, the price per product is increased to meet the break-even point, which ultimately results in higher Retail prices for Slow-motion cameras.

So these are the major reasons why Slow motion cameras are so expensive. Though many camera manufacturers like Chronos and Freefly Wave have slow-motion cameras that let you capture slow-motion videos, those videos are of lower specs. But if you want high-end slow-motion videos like phantom cameras do, you have to invest a lot into it. So what’s your opinion about slow-motion cameras? Are they worth the money?

Joe Pfeffer

Joe Pfeffer

What started off as just a dream for Joe Pfeffer, turned into his passion and livelihood. He started his career as a wildlife photographer and then transitioned into becoming a cinematographer. With a decade of raw on-the-field experience, Joe Pfeffer has all the technical knowledge about the ins and outs of cameras. Now, he uses his vast experience to educate others about photography.