Cameras that can now be found in thrift stores which can do time lapse
January 26, 2015 7:41 PM   Subscribe

Hit a couple of thrift stores today, noticed that they all had earlier model dSLRs for relatively little. I'm curious about doing time lapse photo sets of the visible night sky in a light pollution-ary city (and maybe try some stop motion again). Any suggestions on which older makes/models/lines might be suitable or could be good finds to keep an eye out for?

External power supply would be useful, I'd imagine, unless the particular camera does scheduled tasks well. Would be willing to flash the thing to gain functionality of course. I imagine that having an adapter for external "take picture" without touching the camera (what is the correct term here?) would be critical.
posted by porpoise to Shopping (4 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
You might check out CHDK as a starting point.

I think some/most of those might be point-and-shoots rather than true dSLRs though.
posted by brentajones at 7:57 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

In case you don't already know, pretty much all DSLRs before, say, 4 years ago had really awful noise in any ISOs past 1600, and too much sensor noise for stuff like shooting stars. I mean, it's not going to be terrible by any means, but it will almost certainly be noticeable and/or you'll have to work around that limitation.

Worth looking into what cameras custom firmware like Magic Lantern is compatible with. There are probably also some cool recipes for DIY intervalometers using Raspberry Pi boards or the like if you don't want to buy some overpriced accessory. There are apps that can do it now as well as long as the camera has the right inputs (1/8" mic for a lot). Apologies if none of this is new info!
posted by BlackLeotardFront at 8:56 PM on January 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

I'd just try and find some cheapo thing like this and use it with whatever the cheapest camera was i saw at those thrift stores.

I think your last "external thing" idea is on the mark. You want something like... well... what i linked. They seem to exist for most brands/platforms. Those things are so cheap that i wouldn't even try and hack together some home made solution. I think there might even be cheaper ones out there than what i linked.

I've had similar thoughts, by the way, seeing used 300d's for $30 and stuff.

Make sure they include the battery, charger, etc. All that stuff is basically a stack of $15 expenses at which point you're probably ahead just paying $75 on for the same camera or whatever. Definitely factor in the cost of an ac adapter/external power solution too. And note that not every model ever supported it, for example this supports some but not all models, and it seems like no camera earlier than maybe the 450 or 500d can do tethered power like that(although you could maaaaybe hack something together if you're handy. i'd probably try).

Definitely figure out what the cost of accessories would be to do this before you pick up a cheap body/kit at a thrift store, is my point. It could probably be done cheaply if you're willing to rip apart a battery, do some soldering, and really hack it together... but if that's above your pay grade this could end up being a bit of a money pit.
posted by emptythought at 11:13 PM on January 26, 2015

There is a program out there called "Granite Bay Timelapse" or GBTimelapse, that I've used for Very long term timelapses. Check out which cameras they support. I have used both P&S and slr cameras. Result can really be very stunning.

Also keep in mind that even a pretty crappy old P&S will make good videos, because a 1080p video is 1920x1080, aka 2 megapixels. A P&S will also typically be quieter - having a slr doing a timelapse right next to you while you work, for example, can be pretty annoying.

I've used CHDK to do timelapse also - a lot of cheap canon P&S support it. It's kind of a PITA.

And I've never tried it but magic lantern does timelapses and works on some (pretty modern mostly, maybe nothing pre-50d?) canon dslrs. I think it even makes it into a movie file for you instead of just a set of stills.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:59 AM on January 27, 2015

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