Photron - High Speed Video Camera for Slow Motion Analysis




Product Release Announcement: Photron FASTCAM Mini AX100 and Mini AX50


Photron is pleased to announce the newest member of the "Mini" family of small and lightweight high-speed cameras - the FASTCAM Mini AX. The megapixel Mini AX provides a combination of high frame rates, extraordinary light sensitivity and outstanding image quality that is superior to any camera in its class.

The Mini AX is well-suited to many different applications such as general research, offboard automotive testing, fluid dynamics, material sciences, ballistics, explosives testing and more.

Two Models to Choose From (for now)

The FASTCAM Mini AX is available in two models that differ only in frame rate performance. The Mini AX100 is the faster camera, providing over 4,000 frames per second at full resolution. The Mini AX50 is the lower priced camera, providing 2,000 fps at full resolution.

Light Sensitivity

The FASTCAM Mini AX provides extraordinary light sensitivity. In fact, with the exception of image intensified products, the Mini AX has better light sensitivity than any other high-speed camera ever offered by Photron --- better even than the FASTCAM SA-X2 and FASTCAM SA-Z.
Using the ISO 12232 Ssat standard, the Mini AX is rated at ISO 40,000 monochrome and ISO 16,000 color!

You might be wondering how Photron has managed to pack more light sensitivity into the Mini AX than the SA-X2 and SA-Z, even though all of the cameras utilize the same high-speed CMOS sensor. The internal electronics on the Mini AX generate less noise so Photron apply a stronger sensor gain without adversely impacting image quality. The end result is higher light sensitivity.

Following is a table that compares the light sensitivity of the Mini AX with Vision Research's Phantom Miro 310 and Miro 110 cameras (the closest competitors to the Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 respectively).

Camera Model ISO 12232 Ssat - Mono ISO 12232 Ssat - Color
Mini AX100 / AX50 40,000 16,000
Miro 310 / 110 6,400D, 16,000T 2,000D, 2,000T

You can see that the difference in light sensitivity between the Photron cameras and the Vision Research cameras is quite significant.

We believe that Vision Research takes some significant liberties in establishing light sensitivity values for all of its cameras. Their data sheets indicate a "D" ISO value and a "T" ISO value for each camera. We believe that the "D" values (which are the lower of the two values) are determined in a way that is consistent with the published ISO 12232 Ssat light sensitivity measurement technique in which the influence of near infrared wavelengths is removed.
Therefore, the "D" values represent the numbers that should be compared with Photron's own light sensitivity numbers (which are consistent with the ISO 12232 Ssat standard) to evaluate relative light sensitivity. We further believe that the "T" values are irrelevant and should be excluded from comparison....thus they are crossed out on the table.

Frame Rate and Resolution

Utilizing a 12-bit digital CMOS sensor with 1,024 x 1,024 pixel resolution, the FASTCAM Mini AX delivers up to 4,000 fps at full resolution and up to 540,000 fps at reduced resolution.
Following are some sample frame rates and resolutions for the Mini AX100 and Mini AX50.
Please see the attached data sheet for information regarding recording time durations at the various performance levels referenced below.

Frame Rate
Mini AX100
Mini AX50
2,000 1,024 x 1,024 1,024 x 1,024
4,000 1,024 x 1,024 640 x 640
6,000 1,024 x 736 640 x 480
10,000 768 x 528 384 x 384
20,000 384 x 384 256 x 256
50,000 256 x 128 128 x 96
76,500 128 x 128 128 x 64
100,000 128 x 96 128 x 32
170,000 128 x 32 128 x 16
540,000 128 x 16 n/a
Memory Options

Three memory configurations are available with the FASTCAM Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 – 4GB, 8GB and 16GB.

Image Download to Cineflash vs Image Download via Gigabit Ethernet

Vision Research aggressively promotes its Cineflash feature as a way to rapidly download images from internal volatile memory to non-volatile memory. Each Miro camera comes standard with a 120GB Cineflash module. The Vision Research web site states that the download throughput to Cineflash is 4GB per minute. Once the images are on the Cineflash drive, they then need to be downloaded a second time from Cineflash to a PC for viewing and analysis.

In contrast, the FASTCAM Mini AX provides download speeds of 4GB to 5GB per minute over Gigabit Ethernet. The Mini AX download speed is equal to or even faster than (depending upon PC configuration) the Miro Cineflash download. AND the Mini AX download only has to be done once in order to get the images onto a PC for viewing and analysis.

One final note on Cineflash. We believe that the only image format available for download to Cineflash is "Cine RAW 10-bit." This means that 12-bit images cannot be saved to Cineflash, making them of questionable use for certain image analysis applications.

Electronic Shutter and Interframe Time

Minimum shutter speed for the FASTCAM Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 cameras is 1.0µsec at all frame rates.

Interframe time for the Mini AX50 is 3.1µsec at all frame rates.

Interframe time for the Mini AX100 is 3.1µsec at frame rates up to 212,500 fps, and 0.8μsec at frame rates in excess of 212,500 fps.


The FASTCAM Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 support both C-mount and F-mount lenses.
Because the sensor utilized by these cameras has a square aspect ratio, the issue of vignetting is less significant with C-mount lenses than if the sensor had a 3:2 ratio as is the case with most Vision Research cameras. An optional M42 lens mount is also available.

Special Features

The table below shows which "special features" are and are not available with each model of FASTCAM Mini camera.

  Mini UX100/50 Mini WX100/50 Mini AX100/50
Auto Exposure* NOT Available NOT Available NOT Available
8bit recording** NOT Available NOT Available NOT Available
Dual Slope shutter NOT Available Available Available
Record while download NOT Available Available Available
Memory partition (64) Available Available Available
Variable frame rate Available
(128 x 8 pixels step)
(256 x 32 pixels step)
(128 x 16 pixels step)
Random Reset trigger NOT Available NOT Available Available
Fan stop *** NOT Available Available Available
Variable Frequency
synchronization mode
Available Available Available

*Note: Auto Exposure requires video output and is therefore unavailable on any FASTCAM Mini cameras.
**Note: 8-bit recording will be available on all FASTCAM Mini cameras at a future, yet-to-be-determined date.
***Note: Fan stop will be available on the Mini UX at a future, yet-to-be-determined date.


Like Photron's other FASTCAM Mini cameras, the Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 are designed to withstand a 100G shock in 6 axes. You should know, however, that the cameras have not yet been officially designated as high-g compliant because testing for this feature has not yet been completed. This is why the data sheet does not specify that the Mini AX is a high-g camera.
Photron will warranty the camera if it is used in a high-g application as long as the g-forces do not exceed 100G.


As with all other Photron cameras, the FASTCAM Mini AX is shipped with a standard 2-year warranty for parts and labor. Extended warranties are also available.

What's in the Box?

Included with the shipment of each FASTCAM Mini AX100 or Mini AX50 camera are the following items:

  • PFV Software
  • G-Type F-mount plate and C-mount plate
  • Power supply
  • 2-meter power supply extender cable (extends distance between camera and power supply by two meters)
  • 3-meter Gigabit Ethernet cable

Note that the 2-meter power supply extender cable MUST be used to connect the Mini AX camera to the power supply. The connector on the power supply does not fit the power connector on the Mini AX camera.


One color FASTCAM Mini AX100 and one mono Mini AX100 will be placed into the Photron USA demo pool the week of July 20. These will be production-level systems. Please contact Ray Rangel if you would like to schedule either of these systems for demonstrations in your area.

Orders for the Mini AX100 and Mini AX50 can be placed immediately. You should assume a 45- to 60-day lead time for the first couple of months of availability. After that, lead times should shorten to 30 days or less.

In Summary

With a starting price under $30,000, the megapixel FASTCAM Mini AX provides high frame rates, extraordinary light sensitivity and outstanding image quality that is unique to any camera in its class. We expect that the Mini AX will become the world's bestselling mid- to highend high-speed camera over the next 12 months.

Good luck selling this amazing new camera!


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