Freefly, manufacturer of professional drones, gimbals, and other filmmaking tools introduced a very interesting product: the Freefly Wave High-Speed Camera. Its small form factor makes it perfect for drone use, which it was designed for, but it’s an exciting camera to be used handheld on a gimbal or as a crash cam as well.
Wave in a Nutshell
The Wave is a S35 (APS-C) camera with a locking E-mount inside a 6061-grade aluminum housing (150mm x 97mm x 47mm, 716g). Because of the shallow flange depth, a ton of lenses can be adapted to fit the camera. However, it seems to be a mechanical E-mount only.
Mounting hardpoints on all sides of the housing should make rigging the 716g (without lens) camera easy. Data is transferred off the camera via a USB-C highspeed port next to a full-size HDMI socket and the power terminal conveniently located on the right side of the camera body.
There is no display built into the body, but the HDMI port lets you connect any suitable video monitor.
How high-speed can it shoot?
Frame rates go up to 420 fps in 4K, and up to 1440 fps in 2K. The Wave uses a built-in NVME SSD for storage, and the 2TB version allows for 35min of recording time at the above frame rates. The NVME storage is apparently user-exchangeable. So when larger certified drives are available, recording capacity can be increased. Right now it can be ordered with 1TB or 2TB storage.
For scientific applications, the Wave can shoot at faster frame rates, but the height of the image gets cropped down to a horizontal strip. At the maximum of 9259 fps, the recorded image is only 128 pixel high (2048×128). Exact frame rates can be dialed-in and the frame rate can be synchronized externally.
The camera sports a global shutter, which means that no distortion due to different readout times will occur, which makes for better stabilization and tracking in postproduction.
Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity is built into the camera as well as the aforementioned USB-C port for fast data transfer.
What format does it record?
The recording format seems to be a proprietary compressed Bayer RAW that sits somewhere between a 5:1 and 6:1 compression. A quick search yielded no results, but I guess the raw footage can be transcoded to a useable codec with supplied software.
Check out Wave’s introduction, which was live-streamed on Wednesday, for first impressions and demos of what the thing can do: Freefly Wave Livestream.
Check out some Wave Beta-footage here:
Pricing and Availability
The Wave can be preordered on the Freefly website for US$9.995 with a 1TB SSD and for US$10.995 with 2TB storage. Freefly expects to be shipping in Q4 of this year. (And don’t miss the Freefly Astro Drone Platform that was just launched.)
While a new cameras are released by everyone and their dog, it’s refreshing to see that Freefly Systems didn’t just release any old camera. They designed a specialised camera that will bring high-quality slow motion down into a really affordable price-range and thus in more people’s hands. And that’s always good thing.
There is only a small concern I have: I am not sure whether it’s a good idea that the storage ist built right into the camera. That means, when the camera’s storage is full one will need to offload the footage via USB-C instead of pulling the card and replacing with an empty one.
It might take a while to copy and verify the material. Even if it’s only five or six minutes, in my experience technical breaks like that tend to sometimes “break the flow” of a production.
Are you interested in the Freefly Wave camera? If so, what will you be using it for? Food? Special effects or even scientific imaging? Don’t hesitate to put your thoughts in the comments below!