What do I need to take a timed photo, outdoors, once per day for six months without touching the camera --unless I am just periodically switching out a memory card?
December 21, 2009 8:21 AM   Subscribe

What do I need to take a timed photo, outdoors, once per day for six months without touching the camera --unless I am just periodically switching out a memory card?

For the sake of this project, I have a pretty limited background in photography and even less in time-lapse photography. I have a small budget which I am aware I could spend on the camera alone. I have done some searching, and it looks like I will need a solar panel to power the project. I am hoping there are people out there with first hand knowledge.

Any suggestions (or links to similar projects) would be very helpful.
posted by john.c.herman to Media & Arts (12 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It will probably depend on what kind of quality you're looking for, and where the camera will be located (i.e. relative to any buildings, wifi networks, etc.). If it's close enough that you could have a wifi network available, a wireless webcam could do this pretty easily and you wouldn't even have to fool with memory cards.
posted by entropic at 8:27 AM on December 21, 2009

If you get a camera capable of tethered shooting, you can connect it to a computer and set up a schedule via software. I don't know how far outdoors we are talking about, though...

Or, Canon sells a remote/timer for their digital SLRs.

What, specifically, is your small budget?
posted by thejoshu at 8:30 AM on December 21, 2009

Response by poster: By outdoors, we are talking the middle of a city square. Wifi is supposed to be free and accessible downtown, but sometimes it goes down. I could probably get a local business to unlock their wifi for the project. Specifically the camera system would be incorporated into a sculpture of an eyeball. The budget for everything (sculpture included) is $1000.

And I haven't even begun to think about the sculpture.
posted by john.c.herman at 8:50 AM on December 21, 2009

You can get a supported Canon Powershot, install the firmware CHDK on it, which has a time-lapse script available, and power it with an AC adapter bought on eBay. Budget: $150. Many other people have done it.

You'd want to do a test run over a week or more, but otherwise, just buying a large-enough capacity card should get you going. Search through the CHDK forums for time-lapse to see what others have done.
posted by fake at 8:59 AM on December 21, 2009 [2 favorites]

Six months is only 182 days, so you could do that with a 2gb card, easy.
posted by fake at 9:00 AM on December 21, 2009

Do you really need to be able to leave the camera there the whole time? Can't you just take any old camera and tripod, then mark on the ground where exactly to locate the tripod feet? Or put your camera flat against the same wall at the same height each time? I guess if you are not available to do this every time that is another issue. How are you going ot make sure it doesnt get stolen then? An outdoor wireless webcam is a pretty elegant solution.
posted by kenbennedy at 9:10 AM on December 21, 2009

I vote for Fake's answer. Some cameras have built-in time lapse modes, if you don't want to install CHDK. It's usually listed in the full specs.
posted by echo target at 9:24 AM on December 21, 2009

What about a cheap cellphone with a camera?
posted by talkingmuffin at 9:49 AM on December 21, 2009

Would it actually be easier to do with a netbook or white box (secured inside a building, perhaps) and a wireless webcam?
posted by dhartung at 9:55 AM on December 21, 2009

If you can afford it, the easiest way would be to buy a Harbortronics Time-Lapse Package: camera, intervalometer, memory cards, and battery pack, all in a waterproof housing with a solar panel on the top.

But since your budget is $1,000 (and the kit costs $2,550) you will probably have to buy all the items in it, but with a cheaper camera and/or housing.

To reduce costs, have you considered hiring the camera and intervalometer, rather thna buying them outright?
posted by James Scott-Brown at 1:01 PM on December 21, 2009

What about the Brinno GardenWatchCam? It can be set to take a picture every 24 hours, measures 2.1 x 3.7 x 7.6 inches, and is meant to go in a garden to take pictures of your plants growing so it is meant to be left outside.
posted by ob1quixote at 1:12 PM on December 21, 2009

How about just an alarm clock? :)
posted by Lukenlogs at 8:06 PM on December 22, 2009

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