The folks over at CHDK have been implementing custom firmware for the Canon Digic II and Digic III PowerShot cameras for some time – allowing for some awesome features for these small cameras. Previous added abilities such as shooting raw mode, USB tethered triggering, in camera motion detection and increased video recording options (compression options and no file size restrictions per clip).
But recently a new fimeware build by firmware hacker Allbest has allowed some very impressive high shutter speeds and high speed flash unit timings. CHDK folks have done tests measuring ccd timing vs flash timing, as well as capturing high speed subjects in controlled environments to find real world numbers. At the smallest aperture, the fastest timing available is around 1/64,000. Compared to high end professional cameras which costs one to two orders of magnitude more, this is quite the feat!
Check out the High Speed Shutter wiki page at the CHDK wiki for more information on high speed photography with the CHDK firmware.
Also be sure to check out the Video Plus options for extended recording and compression settings.
You can find a list of supported cameras on the CHDK wiki front page.
Impressive works. Thanks Yair for the heads up.