Freefly, manufacturer of professional drones, gimbals and other film tools, presented a very interesting product: the Freefly Wave high-speed camera. Its small form factor makes it perfect for use with drones for which it was designed, but it's an exciting camera that can be used as a handheld on a gimbal, or as a crash cam too.
Wave in a nutshell
The Wave is an S35 camera (APS-C) with a lockable E-bracket in an aluminum housing of grade 6061 (150 mm x 97 mm x 47 mm, 716 g). Due to the shallow flange depth, a ton of lenses can be adapted to the camera. However, it appears to be just a mechanical e-mount.
The installation of hardpoints on all sides of the housing should make it easier to upgrade the 716g camera (without lens). Data transfer from the camera is via a high-speed USB-C port next to a full-size HDMI jack and the power connector on the right side of the camera body.
Freefly Systems "Wave" with an E-mount lens. Photo credit: Freefly Systems
There is no display integrated in the housing, but you can connect any suitable video monitor via the HDMI connection.
How fast can it shoot?
The frame rates increase 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 35 minutes of recording time at the above frame rates. The NVME memory appears to be user replaceable. So if larger certified drives are available, the recording capacity can be increased. At the moment it can be ordered with 1 TB or 2 TB storage.
For scientific applications, the Wave can record at faster frame rates, but the image height is reduced to a horizontal strip. At a maximum of 9259 fps, the recorded image is only 128 pixels high (2048 × 128). Exact frame rates can be selected and the frame rate synchronized externally.
The camera has a global shutter, which means that there is no distortion due to different readout times, which leads to better stabilization and tracking in post-production.
The wave high-speed camera. Photo credit: Freefly Systems
Bluetooth and WiFi connectivity as well as the aforementioned USB-C connection are integrated into the camera for fast data transfer.
What format does it record?
The recording format appears to be a proprietary compressed Bayer RAW that is somewhere between 5: 1 and 6: 1 compression. A quick search didn't return any results, but I think the raw footage can be converted into a usable codec using the software provided.
In the introduction of Wave, which was streamed live on Wednesday, you will find first impressions and demos of what this thing can do: Freefly Wave Livestream.
Check out some wave beta recordings here:
Prices and availability
The Wave is available to pre-order on the Freefly website for $ 9.995 with a 1TB SSD and for $ 10.995 with 2TB storage. Freefly is expected to ship in the fourth quarter of this year. (And don't miss the Freefly Astro Drone Platform, which has just launched.)
While everyone and their dog are bringing out new cameras, it's refreshing to see that Freefly Systems didn't just bring out an old camera. They developed a special camera that brings high quality slow motion into a really affordable price range and thus into the hands of more people. And that's always a good thing.
I only have one small problem: I'm not sure if it is a good idea to put the memory directly into the camera. This means that when the camera's memory is full, the footage has to be swapped out via USB-C instead of pulling out the card and replacing it with an empty one.
It may take a while to copy and review the material. In my experience, even if it's only five or six minutes, such technical breaks sometimes tend to interrupt the flow of a production.
Are you interested in the Freefly Wave camera? If so, what will you use it for? Eat? Special effects or even scientific imaging? Don't hesitate to put your thoughts in the comments below!