NAC Memrecam fx K5

This is a general information page about the high speed camera that includes teardowns and sample videos.

Intro/description

I stumbled upon this camera by accident, whilst searching for something else - I bid a small amount on the auction, it got driven up to a very large sum twice, but both of the times the highest bidder didn't pay, so the seller offered it to me instead. It took a rather long time to ship, and this was by far the biggest package I shipped overseas - over 19 kilograms, in a very large genuine pelican case. The power supply got lost in the mail, sadly, but as can be seen down in the teardown part of the page it wasn't a problem.

Technical info

This camera was manufactured by NAC from 2005 to 2010, with four models, having 2, 4, 8, and 16GB of RAM. And two sensor versions - colour & monochrome.
My model was manufactured in 2007 with a monochrome sensor and 4GB of RAM. NAC states that the monochrome sensor is capable of 32 000 unit sensitivity according to ISO 12232 at an SNR of 40. Or, in simple words, it's got a sensitivity of ISO 32000. I think this value is for the +12dB gain setting, not for the +6dB or 0dB gain. I suspect it's around 8000 at 0dB gain, but it makes a very clean image, as opposed to +12dB, where some FPN starts to appear.

Resolution chart

Resolution Frame rate Recording time
1280 x 1024 100fps 24sec
1280 x 1024 250fps 9.8ec
1280 x 1024 500fps 4.9sec
1280 x 1024 1000fps 2.4sec
1088 x 880 2000fps 1.6sec
864 x 720 3000fps 1.7sec
768 x 592 4000fps 1.7sec
640 x 560 5000fps 1.8sec
672 x 432 6000fps 1.8sec
512 x 400 8000fps 1.9sec
448 x 368 10000fps 1.9sec
288 x 240 20000fps 2.3sec
244 x 176 30000fps 2.7sec
192 x 144 40000fps 2.9sec
160 x 80 60000fps 4.1sec
64 x 64 105000fps 7.4sec
64 x 48 120000fps 7.4sec
32 x 48 168000fps 7.4sec
The camera can also vary the horizontal resolution separately if more recording time is needed - e.g. 1280x720 at 1000fps. It doesn't increase the speed though, sadly.

Teardown

This is the thing you probably went to this page for. Let's get into the guts.
This camera is built like a tank. Take a look at the back, and count the positioning pins.
Inside it's also very nicely laid out, and most definetly overengineered. This is just a control panel - lights, trigger input, and a few buttons. It's got an Altera CPLD just for that. Also goop. Very nice, smooth, still fresh goop. No hot snot anywhere. Twisted pair IO connector, with something differential coming off to the main boards via a separate connector - I suspect it's IRIG-B & composite video output for the I/O expansion connector. Most of the on-board connectors aren't used in my model.
Opening it up further, we see the amazing engineering that this camera is. 8 boards on one thick backplane(power on the left).
On top it looks very interesting too. Again, notice the alignment pins on the machined aluminium body.
Then there's the sensor side of the camera. Serveral boards inside(hard to see, at least 5), with some connections, going directly to the memory boards. I think the memory boards also contain the ADCs.
The sensor is CMOS, but analog as indicated by the number of trim pots on the top.
There's also a lot of heatsinking on this part, but it appears that the sensor is not actively cooled!
And here's a picture of the sensor up close.

Videos

Here are some videos that I've taken with the camera.
A compilation of various types of lightning captured at 1000 frames per second.

Lightning captured at 1000 frames per second.

Rain and people captured at 1000 frames per second.

Lighter captured at 1000 and 10000 frames per second. Big frame is 1000fps, small frame is 10000fps.

Water droplet captured rather awfully at 1000fps.

And here is something no camera will survive, even this one. I filmed this in the evening, with one 60W light bulb on the ceiling, no light coming from outside, f/4, 1/6000s shutter, aiming directly at the wall, with +12dB gain.