If Seeing Really is Believing… Never Point Your Smartphone’s Camera at an Airplane Propeller

Updated on 25 July 2011 by

If I saw this out the window of a plane, I’d be a little bit terrified:

 

This seemingly horrifying scene is the result of the way that images are captured by the sensors that we find in many modern smartphones.

Unlike real film cameras, active pixel sensors (like those found in many smartphones) don’t expose every pixel at the same time, but rather, do so in sequence. While the consequences of capturing photos this way is trivial for most things, objects moving at high speed may seem to exhibit some strange behaviors, like the propeller above which appears to be literally falling away from the airplane.

This is definitely tough to explain with text alone but you may find this visual explanation helpful. In the video, the line that moves from the top to the bottom represents the sections of the sensor that are actively capturing data:

If seeing really is believing… never point your smartphone camera at a propeller while in an airplane!

More from us. (No silly ads.)

1 Comments For This Post

  1. Steve Jerb says:

    Sweat explanation of an important tech-point. i can impress the friends annd the “chaps” at the bar with this one thenks again! This one is worthy of their admiration and will “get them good where it counts.” I appreciete the explanation of the strorboscopic effect now i know when i see what is believd!

Search UMPCPortal

Recommended Reading

Top Ultra Mobile PCs

Viliv S5
4.8" Intel Atom (Silverthorne)
GPD Pocket 2
7.0" Intel Core m3-8100Y
Archos 9
9.0" Intel Atom Z510
GPD Win 2
6.0" Intel m3 7Y30
Acer Aspire E11 ES1
11.6" Intel Celeron N2840
HP Chromebook 11 G3
11.6" Intel Celeron N2830
Lenovo IdeaPad A10
10.1" ARM Cortex A9 (Dual-Core)
Microsoft Surface Go
10.0" Intel Pentium 4415Y
Samsung Galaxy Book 12
12.0" Intel Core i5 7200U
Lenovo ThinkPad P40
14.0" Intel Core i7 5500U