Eric Kessler & I capture stuff blowing up with Phantom v1610 at 60,000 FPS

First of all, do not try any of this stuff at home! We had a range safety officer overseeing our production to keep everyone safe.

When Eric Kessler of Kessler Crane visited me in New England for the first time, I had to find something unique to keep him entertained. How about firing a very loud .50 caliber rifle into an expensive object and capturing that object blowing up with a Phantom v1610 high speed camera?


I don’t want to spoil the video above, but be sure to watch it all the way to the end. We made a few sacrifices to the “high-speed gods” that will make you shake your head.


So after a few dozen raw oysters in the North End of Boston, we travelled into New Hampshire (state motto is “Live Free or Die”) and played around on a remote gun range.


Eric and I have a great respect for Sig Sauer firearms, some of the most precise and well built guns and rifles you can find. We thought it would be perfect to pair them up with state-of-the-art high speed camera technology and document our day.


We used a Vision Research Phantom v1610, one of the fastest cameras on the planet, to slow down the bullets. We maxed out at 60,000 frames a second and at these speeds, we could clearly see the spinning lead as it destroyed it’s target.

We didn’t use any lights, just the sun and in some cases, very little sun. The v1610 is very light sensitive, and impressed me with decent pictures at very high frame rates in low light.


The v1610 is a 720p camera, and it was designed for speed, not necessarily image quality like a Phantom Flex. The Flex can shoot 2,564 FPS at 1080p and the latitude of the sensor is better than film. The v1610 can shoot up to 1,000,000 frames per second, but the resolution is terrible. At 59,860 frames per second, the v1610 shoots at just 768×320.

The v1610 also has strange image artifacting that can occur if you over expose or clip the image. You find banding, smearing and ghosting patterns. These usually appear when you have a very high contrast scene. The cardinal rule of black balancing frequently still applies, but does not always clean up the problem. This camera sensor is not very forgiving, so you must be careful or a client will ask you pointing at the monitor, “what is that weird stuff on the edges of the brass casing?”

All that being said, the v1610 is an amazing camera. It is the fastest camera I have ever used. It can record 18,400 frames per second at the sweet spot in 720p HD (1280×720). Even though the sensor is not as good visually as a Flex, the v1610 is a beast for shooting ridiculous slow motion. It is an amazing piece of super high speed camera equipment and every time I use it, my jaw drops.

Check out a gig I worked on with Sig Sauer shooting all the v1610 high speed for a new line of ammunition…


Vision Research now makes the new Phantom v2010. This is very similar to the v1610, but can record 25,100 frames per second at the sweet spot in 720p HD (1280×720).

When Eric left my neck of the woods after a day of shooting Sig Sauer firearms, he had plenty of stories to bring back to Indiana. And now he has some video to back up the claim that he can’t hit an apple with a .45 round at 10 yards.


Eric also drove a Toyota Prius.

Special thanks to Sean Manning for his skills and help with safety during the shooting of this video.



This Sony BVW-D600 had a bad day.


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