I finally got my hands on the new Fastec TS3 Cine camera and I love it. It is truly a portable high speed solution that is very easy to use!

EDIT 5/2/12: I shot a video blog detailing the operation of the camera and also traveled to a local greenhouse that was filled with colorful butterflies. It was very humid and warm inside the greenhouse and the TS3 preformed quite well. I used all Nikon manual 35mm glass with a c-mount to Nikon adapter on the TS3.

For the past two years, I have been working with the Fastec HiSPEC2 718 frames per second 1280×720 sensor in a housing that looked like a CCTV camera. It was necessary to use a laptop to control every feature on the HiSPEC2. Powering, triggering and using the camera was a bit sketchy. That has all changed with the TS3.

The TS3 is like a glorified DSLR. It shoots 718FPS at 720p. Yea, just 720p, but keep in mind, a lot of broadcast television is STILL being shot at 720p. In fact, a lot of the BBC “Planet Earth” natural history documentary was shot using a Panasonic Vari-cam shooting at 1280×720. I am told that plans to be able to upgrade to 1080p are in the works.

I’m very happy with the new image processing inside the TS3. The Fastec engineers really maxed out the potential of this 720p CMOS sensor. The black balance feature and the limited artifacting are a major improvement over the HiSPEC2 camera and sensor. I have not seen any screen-door effect or a bad noise fingerprint.

The TS3 camera has a built in SSD drive and it records stacks of raw or compressed images or creates 720p .avi files. I am currently using the .avi files and transcoding them to ProRes 422 for editing in Final Cut using MPEG Stream Clip software. I will try the raw Adobe DMG files soon.

The best part about this little high speed camera is the fact it is “all in one”. I do not need a computer to operate it. It comes with various lens mounts, and has a rechargeable/removable battery that lasts nearly 4 hours. Yes, I tested it… the TS3 actually runs up to 4 hours of non-stop use! The touch screen is awesome and very responsive. The option for a hard button dial is nice when you don’t want to dirty up the screen with muddy fingers.

I like the fact that I can mount the camera to a computer to off-load files to hard drives or I can even use the USB jack on the top of the camera and dump the data to a cheap thumb drive! I have hooked the TS3 HDMI output to my SmallHD monitor and it sends out a sharp 720p HD signal.

I spent a few hours today testing out the camera. The learning curve is very fast and best of all, you can shoot high speed without a big crew. The camera is light and ideal for backpacking to remote locations. Good even light is absolutely essential. Proper exposure is also very important. This TS3 camera is not a Phantom Flex and has little room for error.

Please watch my short test footage video shot at a small stream above. I did a slight grade and only used one lens for the entire thing, an old manual Nikon 24mm f2.8. It got dark quick under stormy skies, but I kept the lens wide open and the camera running 718 FPS. I am also including a couple 720p Apple ProRes 422 files for you to pixel peep at and play around with the grade. Have fun!

Downloads: (APPLE PRORES 422 .MOV FILES)

[download id=”55″]

[download id=”56″]

[download id=”57″]

[download id=”58″]

You can rent the TS3 from RULE BOSTON CAMERA and I think it will be just over $600 for the day. Special thanks to Fastec Imaging for the use of the camera.