Many mechanical processes occur in microscopic timescales, therefore to visualise these developing reactions requires an imaging system that can dissect the event and provide a spatial and temporally resolved record that allows critical interrogation. Research projects are subject to intense scrutiny to contain costs, consequently high speed imaging needs to provide fast results from which reliable quantitative data can be extracted. Secondary to this are the expectations of the research community to access recorded data, without recourse to what is often regarded as out dated procedures in the subdued lighting conditions of photographic darkrooms, and exposure to environmentally dammaging chemicals. Converting an analogue image to a digital record that can be interrogated by computer can be time consuming and often suppresses fine detail. Often relatively slow mechanical events can generate a phenomenon which propagates at velocities that are orders of magnitude faster than the initial stimulus. The propagation speed of mechanically generated damage through a material is dependent on its composition, therefore to capture these fast transient events requires a versatile imaging system that can be readily programmed to satisfy a wide range of experimental conditions. A typical example of these differences can be demonstrated by crack propagation in ceramics. The initial stimulus may have a velocity of a few hundred metres per second, but the rate at which these cracks and shockwaves propagate through the material are measured in kilometres per second. The high quality images that can be captured using the Imacon 200 will facilitate a greater visual understanding of the fast phenomena that influence materials failure. Analysis functions that form an integral part of the operating software can provide quantitative results within minutes of image capture using the system computer.