Help me choose a timelapse cam

Hi! Despite my long history in photographing tiny organisms I, admittedly, have not become very knowledgeable about cameras.

I would like to produce a timelapse of some (very small) mosses. Adding a macro lens to my phone cam wom’t help; it’s going to be a very long timelapse (months, if not years) and I fear my phone (which is already engorged with more than a thousand photos) will be unable to handle it. Also I am um on a Budget and will not be able to afford something that’s unreasonably expensive. Any advice?

Thanks.

If it’s going to be that long you might consider an old laptop with an external webcam hooked up and just keep it dedicated to the task. Unfortunately, that option only really works for a situation with a controlled environment.

Thanks! Fortunately the specimens are indoors, so having a controlled environment is no problem.

Alternatively, how viable would having a stand or tripod from which the camera is kept permanently charged be?

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We are unsure how small subjects would photograph, but an affordable option of a camera intended to be mounted and left alone that has a time-lapse feature is a trail camera. Less than $100 is common, night modes are available, etc.

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I was going to suggest the same, however we don’t know if a trailcam would optically satisfy coniontises’s requirements.
An old phone, perhaps, mounted on a tripod and hooked up to a powerbank may be equally feasible? What about lighting?
coniontises, what do you currently use for regular shots of this kind? Are you using a smartphone or a fixed-lens camera or an interchangeable lens mirrorless?

Edit: Most cameras cannot be powered via a simple USB cable connected to a powerbank while they’re on and ready to shoot. You might need to replace the regular battery with a dummy battery that can be powered via a cable plugged into a wall socket. Such dummy battery setups aren’t expensive, but they are camera model dependent, of course.

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I currently take all my pics with a smartphone (with no attached macro lens).

Would the dummy battery be absolutely necessary? I plan to take an estimated 1-3 pics per hour, so I imagine that if the cam is running out of power I could just remove the camera from its stand during battery replacement without moving the stand itself (thus leaving the timelapse uninterrupted).

There are a lot of cheap “USB Microscope” products out there. It’s probably possible to configure them to do timelapse. However they require a computer, but an old one will do. Even a microcomputer (Arduino or Raspberry Pi) will suffice. The catch with those microscopes is that the image quality is often low, with minimal depth of field. But the price is probably right, as they usually fall in the $20 to $50 USD range.

That can be done with some models of camera, but for the volume of images you’d be getting over a time frame like that you’d still want it connected to a computer and loading the images directly to the computer instead of being stored in the camera.

In addition, you’d be constantly running the risk of moving the tripod every time you downloaded the images.

A good option might be a C-mount lens mounted to a dedicated CCTV camera. There are lots of C-mount lenses available and they tend to be relatively inexpensive as they’re small. C-mount lenses are made for CCTV type security cameras (of which there are thousands of varieties in all sizes and styles), and there are also adapters for the C-mount to standard cameras as well (I know folks who use them for hand-held macro photography).

This would allow you to install a small CCTV camera exactly where you want it, without needing the bulk and expense to a full size camera and tripod, and have better resolution than a webcam, yet retain the optical options of a standard camera.

Standard security camera software should allow you to have that automatically send and store the images in a remote drive, either via a direct hardline, or via wifi or cell networks.

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If you’re tech savy…or know someone who is…I wonder if a raspberry pi camera might fit the bill? I don’t have any experience with this, but a colleague uses a raspberry pi camera to photograph bacterial agar plates.
https://www.seeedstudio.com/blog/2020/06/18/a-complete-guide-to-help-you-choose-lenses-for-your-raspberry-pi-high-quality-camera-m/

https://www.instructables.com/Raspberry-Pi-HQ-Camera-Microscope-a-Minimalist-LEG/
https://www.raspberrypi-spy.co.uk/2013/07/macro-photography-with-the-raspberry-pi-camera-module/
https://www.raspberrypi.com/news/focus-stacking-with-raspberry-pi-for-macro-photography/
https://www.dpreview.com/news/4505290162/raspberry-pi-launches-12-3mp-interchangeable-lens-camera-system-for-its-pi-computers

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I recommend you to use Campark T150 4K 30MP Solar Powered WiFi Bluetooth Trail Camera. here is the link:https://bit.ly/3oT8ADu

“ Rechargeable and Solar Panel Equipped
The special thing about the T150 is that you can charge the trail camera when it is out of power. In addition, the trail camera has a solar panel, which allows it to be used without batteries.

Support 10 Continuous Shooting
The rechargeable solar panel trail camera supports up to 10 continuous shooting, and you will get more pictures. Photo number from 1~10 is available.

Time Lapse
You can press “ON” in “Time Lapse” to set time interval. If the process of plants growing need to be recorded, time lapse will be good. The trail camera will record automatically in every set time interval. ”

I think this configuration is very good, recommended to you.