I would like to setup a timelapse capture of a building site. I would like to take approximately 5 photos every day for the next 3 months.

What is the most economical way of doing this? I have a Raspberry Pi, a Canon Ixus 100 and a GoPro. I can purchase additional equipment, but only have a budget of around $100.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Just out of interest, what involvement does a Raspberry Pi have in this? \$\endgroup\$
    – connersz
    Commented May 13, 2014 at 8:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ Relevant: photo.stackexchange.com/q/13361/9161 and photo.stackexchange.com/q/8723/9161 Also take a look at all the other questions tagged with timelapse \$\endgroup\$ Commented May 13, 2014 at 9:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ @connersz, actually Raspberry Pi makes sense. TLDR; it is helpful for timing. Long answer: It seems the target of this timelapse is the construction of the building, hence there will be no night shooting (I think!). It is possible to install a tiny linux on Raspberry Pi, install gphoto2, and do timings that are not possible with internal mechanisms of either of aforementioned cameras. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pouya
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 9:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @mrwooser, referring to my comment above, if you are going to do what I guessed, and if your camera is supporter by gphoto2, your only concern would be the power! Probably you can find one of those ac power adapters for less than half of your budget. Furthermore, with 3*30*5=450 shots I don't think you are going to have storage problem. \$\endgroup\$
    – Pouya
    Commented May 14, 2014 at 9:29

3 Answers 3


Spend some of your budget on making the mounting for your kit as stable and safe as you can. For example, I use a tripod and tape it to the ground with strong tape, or stake it down with tent pegs if it's outside. If you use a power adapter, tape the cable down too.

Don't worry about stopping the timelapse at night - just discard the dark frames when you're post-processing.

For a three month timelapse you're going to need to clean dust from the lens a few times without moving the camera. Make sure the front of the camera is accessible (eg not right up against a window), and the mounting is secure enough to stay in place while you do it.

Check that the sun isn't going to shine directly into the lens as the sun position changes over the period. Direct sunlight focussed onto the CCD for a few hours will kill the camera.

Finally, you could probably increase your framerate - with a 1 hour period, each frame will have the sunlight coming from a different direction, so when you put it together at the end you'll have a strobe effect. If you can shorten it to 5 minutes you'll get smoother lighting transitions - you'll see the shadows swing around and the clouds traverse the sky as the day passes.


In addition to David's answer, you will probably want to eliminate flicker. Here is a guide:



Two thoughts

You could instal CHDK Firmware on your canon which would give you some more advanced features. I believe there is some timelapse and motion detection abilities.

And while you won't get the quality you can get out of an SLR or a GoPro, and it may not fit into your budget but Brinno makes some cameras that are dedicated for timelapse. I was looking to timelapse a construction project and ran into some issues with building a custom rig like,no AC power, dust, weather, paint overspray. I was able to get a camera and a weather housing. the quality was good and the camera was very energy efficient captured for over a month on a pretty high rate of capture (higher than I needed).


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