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Help me choose a cheap camera

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Help me choose a cheap camera
« on: 06 / May / 2011, 11:18:26 »
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Hi guys,
I am trying to start a childhood-dream project: a time lapse video of the view outside my window for a year.
I was already ready to go with a webcam mounted in a floodlight housing, attached to my Mac via USB.

But... then I found you, guys, and your awesome project, and you managed to make me reconsider all the rig 

So, as far as I understood, I would like to achieve this:
camera powered via usb (or via external AC) -> of course I can't use batteries for a 365 days project
My mac connected to the camera via usb
Camera runs a script that takes the picture (maybe even HDR...) and "opens up" the usb for file transfer, and waits 10 seconds or so, while the Mac gets the picture
Camera then deletes the picture.

Am I right so far? How would you do it?

And now the main question: which camera should I use?
I'm on a budget so I was thinking about a used camera (where to buy them online?) below 100$, even if i can spend up to 150$ if needed.
Also consider that the camera will be outside in the harsh weather of NYC..

So, enlighten me!

Re: Help me choose a cheap camera
« Reply #1 on: 06 / May / 2011, 21:11:48 »
camera powered via usb (or via external AC) -> of course I can't use batteries for a 365 days project
External AC adapter is probably the way to go as I think most Canon cameras will not run off USB power.  Unless you plan to check daily (see below) then a small UPS feeding the AC from an inside location is probably a good idea too. But unless you are an licensed electrician,  that could be problematic.  So you need to make sure that the script running your camera gets things back where you want them to be after a power failure.

My mac connected to the camera via usb
You are going to leave your mac running 24x7x365 for this?   Also,  USB is only good for about 5 ft officially, although I have 20ft printer cables that work fine.   Getting to a lamp in your yard will be difficult.

Camera runs a script that takes the picture (maybe even HDR...) and "opens up" the usb for file transfer, and waits 10 seconds or so, while the Mac gets the picture.  Camera then deletes the picture.
Really big memory cards are cheap.  Why not just use what the camera already knows how to do and copy manually from the memory card every month or so ?

I'm on a budget so I was thinking about a used camera (where to buy them online?) below 100$, even if i can spend up to 150$ if needed.
The A480 series are regularly on sale brand new for $85 or so - at least here in the middle of the Excited States of Merica they are. Later versions like the A490 and A495 are priced the same but still not released.

Also consider that the camera will be outside in the harsh weather of NYC..
Probably the show stopper for this whole project unless you are willing to add a tstat and heat to whatever box your are planning to use to keep the camera out of the rain.

Regardless of all the conderations listed above,  you are probably not going to be able to setup a camera and come back in a year.    So you might want to think about a "tripod" mount in a fixed location that you can goto daily - lots of "quick release"  mounts available and it would save you a pile of trouble.   How much does the look of your house change in 7 days ?



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