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Old December 17th, 2007, 01:23 AM   #1
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Still camera for long time-lapse

I have earlier been experimenting with time-lapse video using DV camcorders.

Now, I am in the planning stages for an eventual assignment, where I will arrange a time-lapse system for a big construction site (mining industry).
The project will have a duration spanning over years.

On-site I will have a computer with Internet access
This will allow me to (among other things)
-Download images for processing
-remotely make adjustments to the capturing software

A big question right now is what kind of camera to use.
My initial instinct is to go with some kind of (digital) video camera and suitable hardware on the PC.
I am rather experienced here.

However, since the interval between images will be in the multi-minute range,
I was thinking of using a still camera instead.

I have a Canon Powershot S2is, and I have written some program code to control the camera from a PC through the standard WIA interface.
This allows me to take pictures under program control and transfer them to the PC.
However, I have very little (if any) control over the camera settings this way.

I understand that there is an SDK (development software kit) available from Canon. that might help.
From searching around, I understand that there are other brands (e.g. Olympus) that offer SDK:s for computer controlled image capture.

I need to come up with a very robust solution.

I can not (as is the case with my Canon at present) have the camera moving the lens from off position to active position uisng the motor for every picture taken.

The main advantage of using a still camera is (as I see it..) that you will get much better image quality to start with.
In the process of producing the actual time-lapse sequences, I will have to crop, shrink and process the captured images, but having high resolution, high quality images to start from doesn't hurt a bit!

Storage is cheap these days, and communications bandwidth to the construction site will also not be a bottleneck.

So, I would be happy to hear from anyone with
-ideas
-insights
-experiences

from time-lapse projects with a long time-scale, eventually using still cameras for initial image capture.

/Johan
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Old December 17th, 2007, 06:35 AM   #2
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Johan,
Check out the remote software from Breeze it may give you a good direction.

http://www.breezesys.com/products.htm#dslr
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Old December 18th, 2007, 12:44 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Josh Laronge View Post
Johan,
Check out the remote software from Breeze it may give you a good direction.

http://www.breezesys.com/products.htm#dslr

Josh!

Thank you for an interesting link!

I have downloaded a trial and the initial results are promising.

However, it seems (from what I can hear) that the camera I am experimenting with (Canon powerhot S2is) has a mechanical shutter.
Maybe all digital still cameras have that?
(I hear a click sound from the camera for each picture taken)

I am not sure if a still camera is suited for this type of project.
One advantage with a video camera is that is has no moving parts.

Given a 3 minute interval between pictures aroud the clock, this will result in some 170000 pictures for a year.
Would a still camera handle that?

I'll keep investigating and experimenting a bit further.

/Johan
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Old December 18th, 2007, 10:20 AM   #4
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Hi Johan,

I'm not familiar with the Canon Powershot S2is, but usually the compact models are not made for more than 20,000 to 30,000 exposures. Even some of the cheaper D-SLRs run into trouble with the shutter after that many exposures. Only the pro D-SLRs have shutters that are good for something like 200,000 to 300,000 exposures.
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Old December 18th, 2007, 04:27 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Staeck View Post
Given a 3 minute interval between pictures aroud the clock, this will result in some 170000 pictures for a year.
Would a still camera handle that?

I'll keep investigating and experimenting a bit further.

/Johan
Hi Johan,

My Nikon D40 camera so far took around 103,000 photos since I bought it around this April.

Regards
Leigh
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Old December 20th, 2007, 01:29 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Johan Staeck View Post

Given a 3 minute interval between pictures aroud the clock, this will result in some 170000 pictures for a year.
Would a still camera handle that?
Johan,
170,000 is a lot of shutter actuations for a consumer camera (pro cameras will have a more robust shutter). The Canon 1d Mark III is rated for a shutter life of 200,000 before shutter replacement while the Canon 30d is rated for 100,000. I'm pretty sure that most digital still cameras have a mechanical shutter. Price wise, you can get 5 30d for the same price as 1 1dMIII. Perhaps you could get 2 30d and swap them after 50k actuations and send the first one to Canon for shutter replacement (or get 4 and sell them used after 50k). Just thoughts.
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Old December 30th, 2007, 09:32 AM   #7
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I used a Canon G9 for this - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iUw8aNefza0
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