How National Geographic Captures a Cheetah Running at Full Tilt

In order to keep up with a cheetah sprinting, National Geographic photographers built over 400 feet of dolly, equipped with multiple high-speed cameras

Capturing a cheetah sprinting at full speed is no trivial task for a photographer. Most of the time, you rely on being in a fixed position, and having the lens and the light needed to capture an image of the cat sprinting. For November's digital edition of National Geographic, the photographers wanted to go a different route.

Rather than sitting in one spot and tracking the cheetah, they carefully constructed an immense dolly track — more than 400 feet long. The cheetahs were released to chase a lure, and a dolly loaded with three Canon 1D X DSLRs and a Phantom high-speed video rig would zoom alongside it.

Unfortunately, none of the footage of the shoot has been released yet, either stills or slow motion, so we'll have to keep ourselves happy with this brief behind the scenes glimpse. Watching the video, you can get a feel for just how fast a trio of 1D Xs can fire, as each shoots 14 frames per second for the entire run. It'll be intriguing to see if using a dolly to follow alongside the cheetah provides a view that we haven't seen of the creature before.