How Did An iPhone Take This Picture?

Unless the blades of this airplane propellor can defy gravity and float, the iPhone's camera totally distorted reality with this picture. How did this happen? No, it's not Photoshop. It's because of the camera's "rolling shutter".

So as it turns out, most digital cameras don't actually take a picture the instant you hit the button. What they actually do to capture an image is scan over the frame either vertically or horizontally. So basically, not all parts of an image are recorded at exactly same time (the top right could be a little ahead of the bottom left, etc.). Hence it being called "rolling shutter".

And though the "rolling shutter" is typically fast enough and hardly affects daily life, it means when you're trying to take a picture of an even faster moving object, distortion like the picture above occurs. Looks kind of cool. [Soren Ragsdale via Core77 via TUAW]