Two Weeks with the iSpeed 3

Posted by Charles

Shooting at 2000fps never gets old. A few months ago I had the opportunity to work with the Olympus iSpeed 3 from Jordy Klein. The iSpeed 3 is a high speed camera that can shoot up to 2000fps at 1280 x 720. It will actually shoot 1280 x 1024 if you want it to but most of us are looking for 16:9, 2:1 or 2:35:1 ratios. I won’t go into too much technical detail, but I’ll respond to any questions about the camera in the comments. It has an on-board CDU (Controller Display Unit) which acts as a monitor and control. Phantom cameras have been using something similar as well, but it’s great to see the progress. This feature is big for high-speed cameras because it means you can be more mobile. It used to be, and still is, that you control these types of cameras via a laptop or desktop computer, the CDU changes that. One other feature of the iSpeed 3 is that it saves to compact flash cards, which we all have. It’ll save uncompressed and a fairly compressed AVI file, as options. The uncompressed file is really high quality for use in post, but takes about 30 minutes to save to the CF, not good for swift production. It was fun to have a camera like this to use on my own for a bit rather than a quick production. However, it was a little overwhelming with the time constraint I had it in to think of stuff to shoot. The most interesting thing, and I don’t think I’m giving away any secrets here was driving around downtown and shooting out the window. Since it’s such a high frame rate you get dolly type shot with people almost frozen in time. I’d like to try that down the road more. Mostly, the things that look the best are the most ridiculous things like breaking something or water.

Shoot anything with water and it’s instantly magical.

Big thanks to Jordy Klein Film and Video, if you need rental equipment definitely check out his site or give him a call. Also thanks to all my friends that subjected themselves to all the random stuff I was egging them on to do.

I’ve posted the few pieces I’ve shot with the camera. The first one up top is a reel of everything I shot in the short time. There’s a bunch more footage, but it’d be dreadfully long if I edited it all together. Hopefully next year I’ll get to test another one.

Be sure to check out Tycho’s tour in 2012, there will be a bunch of footage that I shot with this camera used in the visuals.

Videos after the break:

20 Comments Leave A Comment


Jake Sargeant says:

December 23, 2011 at 10:47 pm

Charles….you captured some really great shots! Must have been so fun to shoot with.

Here are my questions:

1. how much did it cost to rent per day from Jordy Klein film and video?

2. how would you respond to some of the not so positive points brought up in this review of the camera?

3. why isn’t this being used by more creative people like yourself?

4. have you shot with the Fastec TS3 Cine at all?


Emile says:

December 24, 2011 at 12:43 am

Thanks Charles, these are amazing! There really is another world trapped in between the frames that most cameras can’t get to.


Charles says:

December 24, 2011 at 1:00 am

@Francis – Thanks!
@jake – 1. Depends on the kit, there’s lenses / etc to factor in since it’s a Nikon mount.
2. That post was actually one of the first things I read when I got the camera. All totally valid points he makes, but it’s also a different camera than a Phantom. Meaning, if you’re doing commercial work that’s outside the realm of web, you shouldn’t be renting the iSpeed. The file size thing is a pain for sure, it took me about a week to get used to the camera’s oversights, but once I did, it works great. It’s one of those things, if you get it lit right and set up right, this camera can substitute a Phantom for times when someone doesn’t have the budget. On the other hand, you have to know it’s weaknesses before going into a shoot, such as the file limit stuff. Also, I did notice the 4 – array pattern on some shots and not others. I’m pretty balanced when it comes to this stuff, for 2000fps at 720 it’s a really good deal. Would I use it on a commercial shoot? 70/30 Would I use it for a project that was only on the web? Definitely. I think once they hit the 1080p mark and get a better internal compression system going on they’ll really have something. The internal compression as it is now, is really weak.
3. Ha! Actually, I’m surprised that there aren’t a lot more people messing with this camera for how much it costs to rent or buy.
4. Nope, haven’t shot with that yet. The thing is with FPS, there’s a huge difference once you’re over the 1000fps mark, visually speaking. That camera at 720 at 500fps would be fun, but I feel like someone is going to beat that soon.

I could talk about this stuff all day.


Charles says:

December 24, 2011 at 2:47 am

@Tetsuo – I hear you, I didn’t adjust it in any way. I think a lot of it is compression on Vimeo combo-ed with the 720p resolution. The compression settings for the on-board compression don’t help with image quality when you’re looking for crisp water droplets. Watching the surf footage, some of the spray is about the size of 5-7 pixels and I think that’s where the 720p will always suffer. Compare that to the welding shots which are much smoother.


Callil says:

December 24, 2011 at 10:53 am

I loved the part in the reel when you were driving past the pedestrians, the guy walking with the shopping cart and the old lady. What a cool effect to pass by so fast, its a very unique perspective on things.


BossnotBoss says:

December 25, 2011 at 10:38 am

Those grind shots are muy BOSS fo sho, but I’m more than over slo mo liquids and shatters.

How big were the CFs you were using? I use a 7D w a hand full of 16GB CFs and I can’t imagine my cards handling the amount of info pouring in from the ISPEED; I’m curious to know the format the footage gets saved to. Also how many you have w you when you’re out snaggin dope clips.



Topher says:

December 26, 2011 at 9:26 am

I LOVED the driving around shots with people frozen in time. Never quite seen a high speed used to that purpose so well before… are you planning on doing a full video of that soon? Thanks!


clug says:

December 27, 2011 at 8:51 am

2000 fps never gets old? c’mon. I’d say skateboarding at 2000fps has been done to absolute death, to the point it’s an inside joke. People are praying the new chocolate vid is going to be slow mo free.


Anonymous says:

December 28, 2011 at 2:53 am

Great video. Although skateboarding and slow mo are a bit of a chewed out concept you managed to fill the reel with much more interesting footage. Great edits too by the way.

Question: what is the size and weight of this thing and do you think you can use it with a steadicam? I’m guessing the high fps count make shakes in your camera movement much less relevant. What are your thoughts on that?


Dave Ridley says:

January 8, 2012 at 5:03 pm

I agree it never gets old! Maybe I dont do enough filming though… Drive-by shots do look great, bet the frozen people effect would look pretty sweet at high car speed. Cheers for these :)


Bryn says:

January 22, 2012 at 2:45 pm

Love the randomness of your shots Charles. Question: Whats the music that you have in your first video compiled of bits of everything you shot?