Quick Questions, Quick Answers

Frequently Asked Questions

 

System capabilities

 

Can I run the photoSentinel 24/7?

Yes, as long as there’s enough power for the system to keep shooting photos and uploading during the night time hours. With solar, this may be difficult, so we recommend you go with AC power for this type of operation.

How fast can I shoot and upload with photoSentinel?

Like any other intervalometer, photoSentinel equipment can capture images at any almost frequency, from one photo every few seconds to just one photo per week. The limiting factor in frequency is upload time. With the Pro and Mini models, a typical upload takes between five and ten minutes (depending on your network speed and image size). So, if you want to upload every photo as it is taken, we recommend a photo frequency no faster than every 10 minutes. For faster frequencies, you are able to set the system to capture but not upload photos, and then upload the photos later or collect them manually.

Wiht good 4G/LTE reception, the photoSentinel Mach II can upload photos in a matter of seconds. Here, the limiting factors are power consumption and data charges. Again, you’re able to save power and data costs by setting the system to shoot without uploading

As a general guide, for a long term time-lapse lasting more than 6 months, one photo every 10-30 minutes will suffice.

Can I get a ‘Live View’ from the photoSentinel over the internet?

photoSentinel cannot access the ‘Live View’ function built into some DSLR cameras.

What models of cameras does the photoSentinel Pro/Mach II work with?

The most common cameras used with the photoSentinel Pro are the entry level Canon and NIkon DSLRS (e.g. Canon 700D/Rebel T5i and Nikon D3300). For a full list of tested and compatible cameras, see the specifications at the bottom of the product pages for the Pro and Mach II.

Can I remotely change things other than the shooting intervals? e.g. exposure/focus?

photoSentinel Pro and Mini are only able to power and trigger the camera; remotely adjusting functions like optical zoom, focus, exposure levels and aperture is not currently part of the system’s capabilities. These functions can all be set by the photographer during installation to ensure settings are optimal.

At this stage, the same is true of the photoSentinel Mach II, however remote camera is a feature in development and will be included in a future update.

Can I shoot in raw format?

You can shoot in raw using the photoSentinel, but there are a number of limitations:

  • Raw photo formats are not currently supported by any internet browser and so you won’t be able to make use of the photoSentinel web gallery.
  • Raw photo files can be very large so uploading them over the 3G network takes a long time (reducing the frequency you can take photos) and will costs a lot in 3G data.

For these reasons, we recommend shooting JPGs which, even at medium resolution, will generally provide you with well above the size necessary for a HD quality movie.

If you are interested in shooting in raw, we recommend you either:

  • save the photos only to the SD card and don’t upload them; or,
  • use a camera that will save each image in both raw and JPEG formats. This latter option means you can upload the JPEGs and make use of the web gallery while still having the raw files for your final post-production.

Both of these options require you to need to visit the camera to get the photos.

If neither of these options suit and you you want to upload the raw files over the cellular network, you’ll need to contact photoSentinel support to arrange to have your system configured to do so, as the default settings mean the system will normally only identify JPEG files for upload.

Purchasing a photoSentinel

Are there any additional costs aside from the hardware?

In addition to the cost of the hardware and shipping, costs include:

  • Monthly fee of USD50 per unit payable to photoSentinel for server access and service, which allows for 5GB of data uploaded each month and 15GB of data storage on the web gallery.
  • Cellular data plan needs to be arranged by the photographer with a local provider.*
  • With the photoSentinel Pro and Mach II It is also up to the photographer to supply the camera and lens. photoSentinel is able to provide cameras and lens at additional cost; enquire for more information about what cameras are available.

* With the exception of US customers who are provided with an AT&T data plan at 5GB for US$60 per month.

What happens to the monthly fee when unit is not in use?

The monthly service is billed automatically when thirty or more photos are uploaded in a calendar month. Billing is per month with no pro-rata option. If no photos are uploaded while the unit is sitting in your office cupboard, you won’t receive a bill. No need to let us know when you’ve stopped using it – our system will know automatically.

In the future we plan to have more customisable levels of billing that will separate out costs for data uploaded and data stored.

Note: for US customers using our AT&T service, costs will be applicable for any month a SIM card has been active, regardless of number of photos uploaded.

Can I use my own camera cables/solar panel/lithium ion battery/etc.?

We understand that sometimes you may prefer a custom-made component due to technical, environmental or economic reasons. However, using custom-made or non-genuine products within the photoSentinel equipment will void the warranty. If a photoSentinel unit is returned for warranty repair and the fault can be linked to a non-genuine part, then the cost of inspection, shipping and repair will be charged to the customer.

Can I pay by Credit Card?

We do accept credit card payments, but please note there is a surcharge fee. Payment options and surcharge amounts will be advised upon ordering.

Can I rent your system?

Yes, you can. For a quote, please contact us with your project specifications. We require a deposit, payment for shipping and up to two months rental before dispatch, and rental outside of Australia also requires a credit card number to be placed on file.

Can I buy just the housing from you?

Yes, though we sell it at a premium because of all the modifications we do to make it compatible with the photoSentinel system.

Do you have any resellers outside of Melbourne?

photoSentinel ships only from Melbourne, Australia and doesn’t operate through re-sellers. Because we offer an on-going service, we prefer to personally develop a relationship with all our clients rather than work through others. Instead of resellers, we work with partners – companies who use photoSentinel equipment to offer a service to the construction (and other) industry. To learn more about partnership, you can download our ebook about how to grow a business through long term time-lapse.

Can I become a reseller?

We are always interested to hear about business opportunities around the world. We generally steer away from reselling for the reasons outlined above (though would still like to hear your suggestions), but we love to hear from photographers and producers who are interested in building a business with photoSentinel long term time-lapse.

How long before I can receive my photoSentinel after purchase?

Please allow two weeks from payment for the production and dispatch of your photoSentinel equipment. If you communicate with us beforehand to let us know that a job is likely, then we can plan to have your unit ready and the dispatch time will often be much shorter.

Once shipped, the worldwide express couriers we use generally deliver within 3-5 business days. Note that we can take no responsibility for how long it might take to get your photoSentinel equipment through local customs. For information on the customs processes and expenses in your country, contact your local customs office.

Housings and installation

Does the window of the Pro/Mach II encroach on the shot with a wide-angle lens?

The window allows for a full view through a 10mm wide angle lens on a APS-C sensor. The edges of the window will encroach slightly at 10mm on a full frame sensor and quite a bit with a fisheye lens.

How much room is inside the photoSentinel housing?

To fit inside a normal housing, a camera and lens combo needs to be no more than 150mm long. For longer setups, we sell the bigger Beast housing.

What weatherproof rating are your housings?

photoSentinel standard housings are officially rated to IP66 (NEMA 4X) – that’s as weatherproof as you can get before a full submersion rating. The Beast housing has not been control tested, but has been field tested and is weatherproof.

How much is ‘The Beast’ housing?

‘The Beast’ will add US$800 to your order. Please be aware that this housing can take up to a month to manufacture and fit with your photoSentinel system.

What is the best way to install a photoSentinel on a pole?

All photoSentinel models come with pole mounts that make attaching your photoSentinel to a pole quite simple. You can check out our Pro installation video if you want to see the Pro/Mach II pole mount being installed.

Do you sell poles as an additional option?

No, while all photoSentinel models come with pole mounts, we do not sell the poles themselves.

Network, storage and uploading

Does the photoSentinel need cellular data coverage to work?

The photoSentinel system works best when in good cellular data coverage. The system relies on the network to check-in to the server to report the current status, get the latest shooting regime and upload the latest photo. It’s not designed to be used as a non-connected intervalometer.

Can I use a photoSentinel without cellular coverage?

Not with the Mach II, but you can with the Pro and Mini. However,there will be no online reporting, system feedback, remote configuration changes or photo uploading when in this mode. For instructions on how to use the Pro or Mini in ‘never connect’ mode, contact us.

What happens if there is a drop out in coverage?

If the photoSentinel is unable to connect due to a network drop out, the system will re-try a number of times before resuming its usual photo sequence. Any photos that have not been uploaded can be configured to be re-uploaded when the network is back up.

What cellular networks/frequencies does the photoSentinel work with?

The 3G/4G LTE modems used in photoSentinel equipment are of an international standard and are compatible with most networks around the world.* If you have any concerns about your local network, contact us and we can assess the compatibility.

*Note that Verizon and affiliated networks in the USA use a completely different kind of cellular technology that is not compatible with the photoSentinel system.

Does photoSentinel work with Wifi?

Not at this stage, but this feature is in development for a future version release of the Mach II.

Where are my images stored?

On the photoSentinel Pro and Mini systems, your images are stored in three places: (1) on the microSD card (onboard the photoSentinel controller), (2) on the photoSentinel server, and (3) on your own FTP server or Dropbox account.

On the photoSentinel Mach II, your images are stored in four places: (1) on the SD/CF card in the camera, (2) on the SSD hard drive, (3) on the photoSentinel server, and (4) on your own FTP server or Dropbox account.

What is the maximum on-board storage capacity?

The photoSentinel Pro and Mini come standard with a 32GB micro SD card that is inserted into the controller, and are not compatible with larger cards.

With the photoSentinel Mach II, any sized card

Can I use my own FTP server instead of yours?

Our server will forward images to the destination of your choosing (e.g. your Dropbox account or FTP server) and keep a back up of your images for up to 6 months. All images must go through our server as it is the central point of control for photoSentinel construction cameras.