faster than a speeding bullet

Edgerton cutting the card

Toronto. When photography was invented, exposures were measured in minutes. Between then and the end of film’s popularity something happened: Speed. The light sensitive media and lenses through research and innovation became much faster. In fact, after dry plates arrived, shutters became a necessity.

For decades, minicams attained a top exposure speed of 1/1,000 second with their tiny focal plane shutters moving an open slit across the medium at 1/20th to 1/125th second. By the end of the film era, the top shutter “speeds” on a few retail cameras  reached 1/4,000 second or faster. Beyond that, electronic flash as shown here by Dr Harold Edgerton of MIT took over.

Modern digital SLRs have even faster electronic shutters to accommodate the far higher ISO they are capable of reaching. And with all the automation, most photographers (especially smartphone users) simply ignore shutter speeds provided they can stop any blur/jiggle, and the image is relatively noise free.

The title of this post was one of the Superman tags from last century. I grew up reading comic books about Superman and the other super heros. The Canadian band, “Crash Test Dummies” immortalized the flying hero with their song about Superman.

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