Cheap time lapse photography setup

Discussion in 'Nature' started by marco_p|1, Nov 25, 2009.

  1. Hi to all.
    Simple question: i need a cheap device that can shoot a picture every second or two all day long or at least for 4-5 hours. The idea is to put it near a feeder in a remote location, just to see what comes and at what time... Does anybody know of some old, depreciated digital camera with time lapse function?
    thank you.
  2. pvp


    The Epson PhotoPC 3100Z has time lapse capability from 5 seconds to 24 hours per shot. It has a 3.3MP sensor, not large by today's standards but probably good for your purpose.
    Issue: it uses Compact Flash memory cards, which tend to be expensive compared to SD cards.
    Solution: get an adapter for $15 or so.
    Another possible issue, is that it only supports up to 256MB memory cards, at least according to the specs. I haven't tried larger cards. A 256MB card will hold 200 JPG photos at maximum resolution, over 1,000 at reduced settings. The camera can also store images uncompressed as TIFFs, but it uses 9MB per image in TIFF mode.
    The biggest problem you'll have to solve, is power; I doubt if it will last 4-5 hours in continuous timelapse service unless you wire in an auxilliary battery.
    An online review is here .
  3. USB webcam hooked up to a PC? Maybe one of the new microcamcorders that records directly to SD cards?
  4. Ive been experimenting with the EOS utility and you can set=up intervals that go directly to your laptop so not to worry about card size. Might want to get a dc power setup though.
  5. Cheap webcam wired or wireless direct to computer, controlled by this:
    cheap and fexible.
  6. Thank you all for your suggestions. The device will be abandoned unattended in the wild, so using something linked to a PC is not feasible / practical / wise for this application. I will probably use some sort of digicam, my Nikon D300 could do it but I'm not leaving something that pricey alone in the wood. As Alan points out memory space will be a problem (but I can shoot at low resolution no quality needed), and power consumption also. The use of CF cards would be a plus as I already use them and I have some available at diferent capacity. As for power, an unit which works on NiMh batteries would be interesting as I have some high capacity ones available, which I use for my flashes, or I could use a couple of bigger batteries wired to the battery compartment of the camera.
    What about an old coolpix 990? is it timelapse capable on its own or would I need something to control it?
    Thank you,
  7. I can't see you doing this cheaply, at least not if you want it to run unatended for long periods of time.
    For a remote power source, you can use a 12V lead acid type battery plus an inverter to supply power to the AC adapter of the camera, which in turn powers the camera.
    Link to a thread with some info here:
    The next problem is memory space. Depending on the quality you are willing to settle for, you could run into problems fast. If you shoot one frame every two seconds, that's 1800 in an hour or 43200 in 24 hours. You might need a laptop if you want high quality as well as to be able to run it unattended for long periods of time.
    My advice would be to use an EOS 20D (cheap on ebay) + lens mount adapter + cheap 50/1.8 (pentax/nikon)lens + Chinese TC-80N3 copy + 32GB CF card (formatted on a pc)
    That would give you around 16 hours shooting RAW at one frame every 15 seconds.
    Expensive due to all the little bits though!
    One option, if you are leaning more towards digi-cams, is the Ricoh brand. My G3 will do timelapse via a menu option, so I'm sure at least some others will as well. Here is a usefull resource (albeit with a glaring mistake regarding the timelapse feature on the G3):
    I think you will find the memory capacity (not to mention picture quality) limiting on the digi-cams though.
  8. Thank youLeo, the link to your thread is very interesting and informative.
    In my application I have no need for quality, I just want to record the visits to the feeder. Real photographs would be done with proper equipment later, so I can settle for low resolution jpegs, even in BW mode if necessary. But at 1 shot every 5 seconds for 5 hours that's still 3600 shots, and battery power is really a problem.
  9. Ricoh GX 100 has interval capability down to 5 seconds and for undress of photos. There is also an AC adaptor that you
    can - with some other gear - probably plug into something like a 12v car battery if you wish.

    You can also maximize the internal battery by setting the camera to manual focus and manual exposure and turning off the
    rear LCD. I've managed hundreds of 5s interval shots this way on a motorcycle this way - maybe 2 hours of riding.

    You might also consider motion sensor triggers
  10. You're welcome Marco.
    I like John's idea of having sensors too, although I'm not sure if it would be possible to intergrate them into a digi-cam setup since most don't have a remote connector.
    If you are willing to reconsider using a DSLR, you could build all kinds of triggers, from sound/motion activated, to IR laser beam activated.
    Here are some links where you should be able to find some ideas:
  11. leo: thnks for the sharing
  12. Consider the Pentax Optio W10: water and dust proof, light weight, and can take up to 324 pictures with a time interval as short as 10 seconds.
  13. Thank you John, Leo and Glenn, I will consider the digicams you suggested and those links Leo are incredible. The camera AXE seems particularly interesting.
    I am also investigating the CHDK for canon digicams, there is a motion detection feature which looks promising. If I manage to have the camera shoot only when there is activity at the feeder, i will loose no time looking at thousends useless pictures.
    a couple of links:,1038.0.html
  14. Have you thought about a trail camera? As an outdoor nut, I've found that what works best is a trail cam.

    A trail cam is a point and shoot digital camera that is secured in a protective housing that is mounted to a tree. If you set it up near your feeder, it will take pics of everything that moves by it. A trail came is motion activated.
  15. Hi Marco,
    You can go for an old Pentax DSLR(i say Pentax here because i don't know if CaNikons have the same feature) and set up a focus trap?
    Use a manual lens(or some tinfoil between the contacts if you only have an AF lens), pre-focus, and set the camera on AF-C with burst mode. Attach a wire remote and put it on bulb.
    Now everytime something comes in the area you've focussed on the camera will keep taking pictures until it's gone again.
  16. Another link:

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