Digital cameras are getting more powerful and smaller each year, with mega pixels counts and other features increasing at a breath taking rate but step away from the consumer devices and there are some truly amazing cameras being used.
In this video we’ll look at some of the most amazing cameras in the world today and coming soon.
If you ever used google earth, bing, apple or most other mapping applications then you’ll have being seeing images mostly captured by satellites in orbit at around 360 odd miles above the earth.
In 2014 a new satellite was launched called the worldview-3 which is owned and operated by Digitalglobe and is the first commercial satellite to have a 25cm resolution. That means that each pixel of the picture is the equivalent to 25cm x 25cm or about 1 square foot.
That might not sound that good but don’t forget the camera is 363 miles up in space.
Whilst This is not high enough to make out details like, peoples face or car number plates it is quite a big jump from the 70cm resolution that applications like google earth had to use before
Digitalglobe still had to apply for special permission from the US government to sell the new higher resolution images on the open market, such is the increase in quality the new system can reveal that it would have been classified before.
The system can image an area the size of the united states in just 2 days and can also see through cloud and smoke with it’s additional Short Wave Infra Red imaging cameras so events like wild fires can now be seen in way that would have been hidden previously.
Highest resolution surveillance camera ARGUS-IS
Now if you thought the worldview-3 was powerful the wait till you see the 1.8 gigapixel ARGUS -IS. This DARPA’s Autonomous Real-Time Ground Ubiquitous Surveillance Imaging System or just ARGUS-IS for short.
This system is able to the track and record every moving object, such as people, cars, trucks and other objects of interest in an area the size of up to 36 sq miles from a height of 20,000 ft and see objects as small as 6 inches across or about 15cm.
It is designed to be mounted on UAV’s, drones, planes, in fact anything that can stay above the target area for long durations.
Now you may be thinking that is has some super high tech camera system but in fact it uses 368 5Mp camera chips that you would find in a mobile phone.
These are mounted behind four lenses and the images from all the sensors are combined in to one large image equaling to 1.8 gigapixels which allows for a large coverage area but still being able to zoom in to see the fine details.
The hard part is handling all the data. Because the system is a persistent surveillance one, all the data is recorded at the rate of 6000 terabytes of data per day.
The system can automatically identify and track moving objects over an area of a medium sized city, something that would take a 100 predator drones to do the same.
The operator just has select an area of interest to look at and the system will start the tracking. Up to 65 separate zoomed in windows can be opened up to allow targets to be tracked across the entire field of view.
Although originally intended for military use in Afghanistan, it thought that it could be used track criminal suspects in civilian areas too.
The Most Powerful Camera, the LSST
So from a 1.8 giga pixel surveillance system to the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) currently under construction in chile. At the heart of this system is a 3.2 Giga pixel camera which will be the largest ever created when it come online in 2022.
The camera however is no light weight like the ARGUS-IS, this three mirrored device weighs 3 tons and is the size of a small car.
It has 189 sensors and has a resolution equivalent to 800,000 8Mp cameras. The single image that will be created from merging all the data from the sensors would fill 1500 Full HD TV screens.
In 2022 the LSST will start a 10 year mission to photograph the entire southern sky every few days to produce the most detailed catalogue of stars and galaxies yet created.
Because it can image the entire sky every few days, the differences in the images will be used to track objects like asteroids and the movement of galaxies in order to try and better understand dark energy and Dark matter, which is believed to make up 95 percent of the Universe.
Fastest camera’s in the world
We have seen high speed cameras capturing things like balloons exploding, bullets going through objects, even the first few milliseconds of an atomic explosion but the worlds fastest camera is so fast the it can even capture pulses of light as it moves through space
The camera which has been developed at M.I.T’s meadia lab has an effective frame rate of 1 trillion frames per second, the average video camera works at between 24 and 30 frames per second.
In one experiment the team used a laser the create extremely short pulses of light which are shone through a plastic bottle filled with cloudy liquid.
This creates almost a bullet of light as the packet of photons are seen moving from one end of the bottle to the other.
It takes the light just 1 nanosecond or 1 billionth of a second to travel the length of the bottle.
The biggest problem with this type of imaging is that the image is made up one line at a time, so the process has to be repeated thousands of times and the separate slices are combined in to the video you see here.
That’s fine for a scientific experiment in a lab but for events which cant be repeated thousands of times, scientists in Japan have created the STAMP or the Sequentially Timed All-optical Mapping Photography method which can capture an astonishing 4.4 trillion frames per second at a resolution of 450 x 450 pixels.
Not much compared to an iPhone 6S resolution wise but the best slow mo performance the iPhone can achieve is 240 frames per second. It would take the iPhone 6S, 581.3 years to capture the same number of frames as the STAMP system captures in 1 second.
Smallest camera in the world
Now from the fastest cameras in the world to the smallest.
Built by Medigus, the micro ScoutCam is just 1.2mm across and has a resolution of 224 x 220 pixels and is fully water proof.
Made for endoscopic work the ScoutCam is so small that that it can built in to a tablet like the PillCam. This can be swallowed and travel through the digestive system whilst transmitting a video signal as it goes.
The tablet includes the camera, a light, battery and Wi-Fi connection and captures 18 frames per second.
Normally the patient wears a belt which pick up and records the video signal for analysis later. This allows doctors and specialist to see what is happening inside a patient in real time without having to do surgery or use a traditional endoscope.
NASA have also been using the camera with tiny invertebrate robots to in experiments on the International Space Station to inspect areas that would otherwise be inaccessible.
This super lightweight and low power camera now enables the place of cameras where it has previously been impossible.