Time Lapse Photography

I used the Arduino and a camera to make a weather proof box to take time lapse movies. You can see my write-up/pictures/movie here: http://www.glacialwanderer.com/hobbyrobotics/?p=124

The basic premise is to run an Arduino as a timer and once an hour it turns on a relay. The reason for the relay is minimize power usage while the Arduino is running as a timer. When the relay is powered up the servo and camera also get turned on. Then the Arduino uses a servo to turn on the camera and take a picture.

Some of the most interesting data I collected during this project was the current use from the 12 volt battery. The current draw when the relay is off is only around 0.07 mA. I had no idea the Arduino used so little power (0.84 mW)! The current draw when the relay and servo are on is around 210 mA. The current draw with the relay, servo, and camera is around 300 mA. But remember these higher current draws only happens for a few seconds while you are taking a picture.

If anyone has more questions about this just let me know.

I do love your photography projects :)

I built something similar, but instead of a relay, I used an IR LED to control my Nikon DSLR. Actually, right now the project is still on my workbench waiting to be assembled, but the code is pretty much done. I'm using a rotary encoder to set the interval and an 8x2 LCD for a display.

I'm not sure how much I'll use it though. 1440 exposures per minute of finished video seems like a lot of wear and tear on the mechanics of a very expensive camera body.

I get about 700 exposures from a battery charge so I'm not sure how far this project will get me without an external power source for the camera too.

Perfect project, perfect camera.

Did you ever try to open the F30 and override the buttons? I mean using electrical signals (from the Arduino) to switch on the camera and to take the picture instead of the servo solution.

Oracle, I know what you're talking about. The good thing with these point and shoot cameras is that they are cheap and I don't have a shutter to wear out. If I ever wanted to to this with my DSLR I'd probably buy a cheap used rebel/20d. Then I could put one of my lenses on it and not worry about the expensive camera wear. Unless I have a special use like a low light or a special focal length the point and shoot probably gives good enough quality for videos. If you finish your camera project, I'd love to see a picture of what it looks like.

Bohne, I did not try opening my F30, but I thought about it. I'd be surprised it it was very difficult. I had an old canon the broke and I took it apart. Buttons similar to what are on my F30 were easy to desolder and I could trigger them with either a simple transistor or relay. I just didn't do it because it was quicker to do the servo and this way I can use the camera as a normal camera in the future if I want to. That said I'm a little worried that these buttons may wear out because of very heavy use in this project. If these buttons become a point of failure then I'll probably do just what you suggested. The only other failure point I see as likely is the lens motor.

What about just running connecting the switch to a set of pins on the Arduino set to go HIGH after a certain delay?

i plan to do this my self, but not the ghetto way... I plan to use a 1.3 Mega Pixel cmos with built in jpeg compression. http://www.sparkfun.com/commerce/product_info.php?products_id=8668

then using DosONaChip or possibly cheaper means, to record the jpegs to an sd card.

I plan to use these for when our robotics team works on stuff to get cool time lapse of them doing it.

Also I am bored. FIRST STEP, i need a job ^-^

Shutter, that's an interesting idea. Can you explain why you are going with the sparkfun sensor? There are some advantages like small size and 15 fps, but you could get an better sensor with a pretty small size if you were willing to hack apart a $50-$80 point and shoot camera. If you choose a Cannon Powershot you could customize it with CHDK.

I can completely understand if you want to use the sparkfun sensor because it's cool, but I'm wondering if you see some advantage to it that I am missing.

By the way, my camera has been running for the past few weeks outside and is still functioning great without any intervention.

Well i want to do it partly for the cool factor. I also might have a small market for it.

What I would do, if i had a camera to spare, is yes take it apart, but don't remove the sensor, Instead I would look at the trigger button. I am sure you can replace it with a mosfet then toggle it on and off with the arduino. If you have a nice camera it might have a remote to it. Then I would use an oscilloscope and a phototransistor and read in the signal, then recreate that with the arduino. Also some cameras have a plugin remote system.

I think I just want to play with building my own stuff. It gives me a chance to learn to use the fat chip and the cmos sensor. I like this cmos sensor because it has built in jpeg compression.

There are many ways of doing it.

Hmm i never new of CHDK. That is cool. I have to check that out.

Shutter, don't know if you've seen it, but there is a thread on this camera module on the Sparkfun forums. It would seem that getting images out of the camera is not as easy as the sales blurb would have you believe. Worth checking before you part with any cash.

Thread here http://forum.sparkfun.com/viewtopic.php?t=10314


i would advise not to use a dslr for time lapse. they are just not made for that.

Shutter, don't know if you've seen it, but there is a thread on this camera module on the Sparkfun forums. It would seem that getting images out of the camera is not as easy as the sales blurb would have you believe. Worth checking before you part with any cash.

Thread here http://forum.sparkfun.com/viewtopic.php?t=10314


Ah, a bit... disappointing. Thanks. How come a DSLR is not fit for time lapse?

Here is a good link


I've used my DSLR for timelapse and it works great in certain cases where my point and shoot doesn't. If your shots are in low light the images generated by the smaller sensors in a point and shoot will look really bad compared to a DSLR. Lenses and overall image quality are other considerations. I've only used my DSLR for timelapse a few times and the last time was because I already was capturing a different sequence with my point and shoot camera.

You need to know the downside of using a DLSR though and the only one I know of is shutter life. Most people never get close to the shutter activations their DSLR is rated at so the cost is likely free. Mine is rated at 100K and I have about 50K on it after many years. If you do think you will need to replace the shutter you can find out how expensive the shutter is (mine is $300) and figure out how much a timelapse sequence is costing. If I did a 1000 image sequence that would cost about $3 worth of shutter. I can live with that.

You can get nicer cameras that have an external trigger option and don't have a shutter. That's what I'd probably do if I wanted a nice camera for just timelapse, but my current cameras work good enough for me.

Well then. I will consider hacking a point and shoot. it apears with canon camera you can controll it with usb to take a photo. an other good thing to point out.