Planning Your First Long Term Time-Lapse?
The best results begin with planning, so below you’ll find our Project Planner to help you determine the best photoSentinel solution for creating amazing long term time-lapse.
If we haven’t provided you with all the information you need to to make an informed decision, click below to discuss your project with one of our long term time-lapse experts.
The original photoSentinel ‘brain’ partnered with the power of the Fujifilm X-A3 camera. An all-in-one, plug-and-play solution for those who want to shoot and upload jpeg images at 10 minute or longer intervals. Maximum angle of view is 70°, so the Mini is not suitable for projects that require a wider field of view.
photoSentinel Mach II, Standard Package
Our most popular package, the Mach II is a powerful 4G LTE system compatible with your choice of DSLR camera and lens. It’s great for shooting and uploading JPEG images at regular long intervals (10 minutes or longer), but will also shoot and upload as fast as every minute, and shoot and save as fast as every few seconds (for shorter bursts). A camera with an APS-C sensor and 10mm lens allows for a 95-100° field of view, making it suitable for wider sites.
photoSentinel Mach II, Premium Bundle
The package of choice for photographers wishing to shoot raw or utilise Ethernet. Swappable 500GB SSD hard drive provides large storage for saving raw files (to be manually collected later) and JPEGs can captured and uploaded as fast as every minute (beware data costs if uploading large numbers of photos). Compatible with a range of DSLR cameras. A camera with an APS-C sensor and 10mm lens allows for a 90° field of view, making it suitable for wider sites.
The Mini system comes pre-fitted with the 24MP Fujifilm XA-3 camera.
The most common DSLR setup for the Mach II system is a crop sensor Nikon or Canon DSLR with a Sigma or Tokina wide angle lens. This entry-level setup provides a good balance between cost and quality – it’s relatively cheap and will still give you greater than 4K quality images so you’ll have plenty to play with in post-production.
We can provide Nikon and Canon cameras, with Sigma and Tokina lenses as part of a package with photoSentinel equipment; contact us for prices. We’re also able to provide full frame Nikon and Canon cameras by request; contact us to check compatibility and prices.
For a longer discussion on this topic, see our article What camera should you use for long term time-lapse? Or, why you don’t need a Canon 5D Mark III.
Field of View
Use this handy webapp to calculate the horizontal field of view needed on your project.
For an overlay of the Mini’s field of view (70°), select:
- Sensor size: Nikon APS-C (the Nikon APS-C sensor is the same size as that used in the Fujifilm X-A3).
- Focal length: 16mm
For an overlay of a cropped sensor DSLR with 10mm lens (95-100°, depending on camera brand), to be used with a Pro or Mach II, select:
- Sensor size: Select Canon or Nikon APS-C
- Focal length: 10mm
Search your location, then position your camera and subject on the map, and check if your choice of system will capture the whole subject site.
If you want to shoot JPEG photos only, then the Mini and Mach II Standard Packages will do the job. If, however, you are set on shooting raw then you’ll want to add the 500GB SSD that comes as part of the Premium Bundle. With the large on-board storage you’ll be able to upload the JPEGs over the cellular network while saving months of raw images locally to be collected later.
Due to the prohibitive costs of cellular data, we don’t recommend uploading raw images over the cellular network.
Avoid determining your regime by how long you want the final video of your project to play for. Because of the nature of long term time-lapse, you will end up with lots of photos you won’t use (rainy days, periods of inactivity, etc.), so it’s better to overshoot than undershoot.
As a general rule, most projects capture photos at intervals between 10 and 30 minutes, during work hours and on work days. This gives you plenty of photos for culling during editing, while not so many as to be unmanageable or cost you lots in data.
Site Access and Maintenance
While photoSentinel equipment is designed to be autonomous, you should always plan and budget for things to go wrong. We recommend budgeting for a site visit every three months. Hopefully you won’t ever have to visit, but you never know when equipment might fail or a spider might build a web over the front of the window.
Wherever possible, photoSentinel equipment should be installed in an easy-to-access location, in order to keep access costs down when maintenance is required.
All photoSentinel systems have a large internal lithium ion battery charged by either solar or AC input. Even if you have access to AC power, solar may be a more reliable input as workers often unplug leads to run their own tools.
In most locations, the provided 10W or 20W solar panel will be enough to run the photoSentinel system at a normal shooting regime (photos at 10 minutes intervals during work hours). If you are in a location that has limited sunlight (e.g. the far north of the planet or in the shade of multiple office buildings), or want to run a more aggressive regime, contact us to talk about alternative power options such as dual solar panels and an external battery pack.
To calculate the amount of cellular data you will require, simply multiply the number of photos you plan to upload in a month by the size of the files being uploaded. Then add a bit of buffer to allow for uploading status updates, re-uploading images in the event of a dropout, etc.
For example, if you’re shooting medium size JPEGs (3MB) at 32 photos per day (every 15 minutes for eight hours), then your minimum data usage will be 3GB per month. After building in some contingency, we would recommend a data plan of 4GB per month on this project.
All photoSentinel systems come with a pole mounting bracket that can also be used to mount the equipment to a wall. The Mach II can also be screwed into a horizontal flat surface. For other unique mounting requirements, please contact us to discuss your requirements.