Frequently Asked Questions

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Quick Questions, Quick Answers

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. That said, you would not be able to do this if powering unit with solar, so we recommend you operate on 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 five seconds to just one photo per week.

As a general guide, for a long term time-lapse lasting more than 6 months, one photo every 10-30 minutes will provide more than enough images to produce a final video of reasonable length. Often during a long term time-lapse project there are occasional periods of high activity, such as a concrete pour, that you want to capture at a faster rate. In this instance, you’re able to shoot and save as fast as every five seconds, but you won’t be able to upload each photo as it has taken. At the end of the fast-take event, you can either collect the images from the unit manually, or you can set the system to upload them as a batch overnight.

One limiting factor in frequency is upload time. With the photoSentinel Mini (which uses a 3G internet connection), 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, for photoSentinel Mini 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.

With good 4G/LTE reception, the photoSentinel Mach II can shoot and upload photos as fast as every minute. Here, the limiting factors are power consumption and data charges. You’re able to save power and data costs by setting the system to shoot without uploading, or uploading only some images.

 

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

The photoSentinel system does provide any remote Live View function.

 

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

The most common cameras used with the photoSentinel Mach II are the entry level Canon and Nikon DSLRs (e.g. Canon 2000D/Rebel T7 and Nikon D3400). For a full list of tested and compatible cameras, see the specifications at the bottom of the Mach II product page.

 

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

Currently the photoSentinel Mach II and Mini only 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.

For the photoSentinel Mach II, remote camera control is a feature currently in development and will be included in a future update.

 

Can I shoot photos in RAW format?

We recognise that shooting RAW photos can offer significant post-production benefits for photographers, such as increased image dynamic range and colours.

The good news is that the 500GB SSD storage in the photoSentinel Mach II Premium package was specially designed with RAW workflow in mind. When configuring your equipment, you can select to upload JPEG only, RAW+JPEG or RAW only.

Here are some other things to consider when shooting RAW.

  • Images in RAW photo formats are not supported by any internet browser, and so won’t be viewable on the photoSentinel web gallery. Uploading JPEGs while also shooting RAW means that your clients will be able to still view their images in the gallery.
  • Images in RAW photo formats are significantly larger in file size than a file in JPEG format, and can be larger than 80MB per file compared with 5 to 10MB for a typical JPEG image. If uploading, the larger size of files results in significantly increased upload times, and significantly higher rates of 4G cellular data usage. For this reason we recommend only uploading JPEGs while saving raw locally on the unit for periodic manually collection.

If you are interested in shooting in RAW, we recommend:

  • Using the photoSentinel Mach II Premium package, which comes with the 500GB SSD and Ethernet-ready housing.
  • Upload only JPEG images. As long as a JPEG file is uploaded, the web gallery will continue to function correctly.
  • Save RAW images locally on the photoSentinel 500GB SSD for periodic manual collection.
  • If you have a fast LAN connection available onsite, you may wish to use Ethernet (available with Premium package) to reduce the running costs from high 4G cellular data usage. Keep in mind however that while you would save on cellular data, there may be an increased cost to photoSentinel service fees for storage of large amounts of data.

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 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.

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.

 

Can I buy just the housing from you?

The housing is very customised to the photoSentinel system, and because of all the modifications we do to make it compatible with the photoSentinel system, it comes at a premium. If you’re looking for just a DSLR camera housing, we recommend searching for a cheaper, off-the-shelf option, rather than our highly customised housing. 

 

Do you have any resellers outside of Australia?

We have our own offices in both the US and Dubai, and beyond that we generally don’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 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. For extended wide angle lenses, ask about our oversize “Beast” housing. 

 

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 housings are officially rated to IP66 (NEMA 4X) – that’s as weatherproof as you can get before a full submersion rating.

 

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 using hose clamps or other metal strapping.

 

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 requires internet connection through the cellular network or LAN (LAN available with photoSentinel Mach II only). 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 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 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 automatically re-uploaded when the network is back up.

 

What cellular networks/frequencies does the photoSentinel work with?

The 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.

 

Does photoSentinel work with Wifi?

Not out of the box, but the Mach II can be modified to work on wifi. Contact us to discuss your requirements if you want to use wifi.

 

Where are my images stored?

On the photoSentinel Mini, 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 three places: (1) on the flash drive or SSD hard drive, (2) on the photoSentinel server, and (3) at your own photo forwarding location.

 

What is the maximum on-board storage capacity?

The photoSentinel Mini comes standard with a 32GB micro SD card. The Mach II Standard packages comes with 64GB of on-board storage, and the Premium package comes with a 500GB SSD.

 

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 time-lapse camera systems. If you have concerns about privacy, or special requirements (e.g. construction time lapse of high security locations), please contact us.