How rolling shutter technology can warp your photos

There’s an interesting discussion going on over at Reddit about the concept of rolling shutter photos, and how the technology can limit image acquisition on a smartphone. The image on the right is of an aircraft propeller and was snapped with an iPhone. But because the image is collected from top to bottom (albeit, very quickly), only parts of the blades are captured by the phone. The result is what appears to be an image depicting propeller blades bending away from the engine in some twisted mechanical failure. Rest assured — it’s only an artifact from the camera.

Compare this to a normal camera where the entire image is captured at one time, using a shutter and a CCD (or film!) and one can see the benefits of using a real camera for capturing faster moving objects.

Rolling shutter cameras — or rather, their limitations — also appear to create some interesting effects on video capture. The below video shows a similar propeller blade where the same sort of distortion is apparent. It was also shot on an iPhone.