Vela One: High Speed Flash On A Budget

One of the great innovations in the past 50 years pertaining to the study of what projectiles do in flight and why is the advent of ultra-high-speed photography – the kind that can keep a rifle bullet in focus. This sort of endeavor is not for the novice photographer, but the results speak for themselves in terms of empirical and artistic quality.

However, one of the major barriers to entry into very high speed photography – the cost of flash – may be about to come down. Enter the Vela-One, an LED flash capable – according to the designer – of times as brief as one two millionth of a second. If a slower speedlight with a flash duration of 1/20,000th of a second is used to photograph, say, a 55gr M193 5.56mm bullet traveling out of the muzzle of an AR-15 at 3,300 ft/s, then the image of the bullet will be blurred, as during that time it has traveled almost two inches. However, with a 1/2,000,000 of a second flash, the bullet will have only traveled twenty thousandths of an inch, roughly the thickness of a thumbnail.

Vela-One is currently seeking crowd-sourced funding through Kickstarter. Their page has a lot of detail on the product itself, including a video showing the inventor’s set up for capturing a crayon being shot with a BB gun using the Vela-One.

The Firearm Blog is currently seeking an interview with Matt Kane, the inventor of the Vela-One, so stay tuned!

Nathaniel F

Nathaniel is a history enthusiast and firearms hobbyist whose primary interest lies in military small arms technological developments beginning with the smokeless powder era. In addition to contributing to The Firearm Blog, he runs 196,800 Revolutions Per Minute, a blog devoted to modern small arms design and theory. He is also the author of the original web serial Heartblood, which is being updated and edited regularly. He can be reached via email at


  • JumpIf NotZero

    When I looked into nano flashes awhile back, I though I remeber some in the $600 range already. This looks good for a prototype, but not one I’d line up on kickstarted for. I’d wait for a version 2.

    • Hi,
      The only other flashes that are fast enough are airgap flashes, which start from around $2000.

  • Blake

    did you mean “the thickness of a thumbnail”?

    • I guess it depends on how parse that. Your way makes more sense, I admit.