Andrew Davidhazy just pointed me to this kit for high-speed photography. It looks like a great way to get started for not a lot of money. The heart of the device is a microcontroller, so it has few parts and is extensible for the experimenter. It has both a sound sensor and a light sensor. The timing is not crystal-based, so it probably has only a 1% accuracy (I haven’t tested it so I don’t know this.) And it comes with a flash.
The flash is just a disposable camera that you hack into to use only the flash portion. It makes a nice, cheap way to get started. It isn’t particularly fast (1/1700 sec) and it won’t produce a lot of light. But, it will take high-speed photos of balloons popping and drops splashing (not a bullet cutting a card in half.)
For $125 it’s not a bad way to get started.