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I am trying find the best camera options for the below project...please help:

  • I want to set up a small camera in my front window, to take a daily shot of the outside scenery.
  • I would like to be able to automate the shot so for 365 straight days it takes the same picture at the same time.
  • We have such a climate that I want to make a 365 day collage of the changes.
  • I would prefer the picture to be automatically sent to the cloud or an phone app, but this is not required.

Any thoughts on how best to do this, somewhat economically?

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    No info about camera and options to control it? Then my answer could be "pug the camera to a wall adapter to ensure power, then set it to shoot every day". – FarO Feb 8 '18 at 15:18
  • Might want to look into GoPros, however, using an actual camera (Dslr/mirror less or whatever) is going to be a challenge, I doubt you could even have one turned on for 365 days without issues. – Matthew Feb 8 '18 at 16:42
  • what gave you googled yourself? – aaaaaa Feb 8 '18 at 18:39
  • Where will the camera be located? Is theft likely to be an issue? What are the temperature extremes? – Hueco Feb 8 '18 at 19:53
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    Because of how the sun moves, "at the same time" could lead to drastically different light levels over the course of the year. And what if it's cloudy or stormy one day? – JPhi1618 Feb 8 '18 at 21:13
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Many of the older Canon A series point & shoots can be highly controlled by use of a free software product called "CHDK" - Canon Hack Development Kit. The features provided add considerably to each camera's functionality.
These cameras are often available 2nd hand at low cost. Lists of suitable cameras are available.

CHDK is immensely capable - you can trigger a sequence of timed stills or video based on movement in selected area, set interval timers, set ISO and extract RAW files on cameras that do not offer the facilities usually & much more.

Start here CHDK Wiki and then

this garglabet search will provide ample extra.

_______________________________________

SOME OF THE FEATURES: (from the Wiki)

Shutter-priority (Tv) exposure - via shutter value override feature

Aperture-priority (Av) exposure - via aperture value override feature

Shooting in RAW, with RAW Average, RAW Sum, and RAW Develop features

DNG (Digital Negative) in camera conversion, and USB download options

Bracketing -Tv, Av, ISO, and Focus bracketing, using scripts, or in continuous or custom timer modes

Live histogram (RGB, blended, luminance and for each RGB channel)

Zebra mode (a live view of over and under-exposed areas of your picture) for many cameras

Depth-of-field (DOF)-calculator, Hyperfocal-calculator with instant Hyperfocal and

Infinity focus-set, and more

Battery indicator

RAW and Video space-remaining gauges with custom low-limit alerts

USB cable remote shutter release

Motion-detection trigger - automatically fires camera on motion detection. - Ability to capture lightning strikes.

Adjust Video quality and size (compression) adjustable while recording

Elimination of 1 Gig video-size limit (for most DIGIC II cameras)

Zoom during video function - for cameras without this feature

Shutter, Aperture, and ISO Overrides

Ultra-long shutter speeds - at least up to 64 seconds - and longer for supported cameras

Ultra-fast shutter speeds - up to 1/10,000" and higher

High-speed Flash Sync at all speeds up to 1/64,000"

Custom, user-editable visible grids for framing, cropping, and alignment (not all cameras)

File browser

Text reader

Text editor

Calendar

Games

Fully customizable CHDK display, info placement, user colors, fonts in menus, etc.

Multi-language Interface - CHDK supports many languages

Custom CHDK User Menu - for instant recall of up to 10 favorite functions

Scripts execution - including intervalometer, motion detection, etc
...

!!!

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Don't tie up an expensive camera or use a cheap one not designed for this purpose (many photos/videos over a long period of time). Either get a "Timelapse Camera" or a "Trail Camera".

Example video from a Timelapse Camera: Brinno TLC120

List of Trail Cameras: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/buy/Trail-Wildlife-Digital-Cameras-Accessories/ci/13927/N/3808211484

Example video of results from and feature set of a typical Trail Camera: Moultrie M-1100i Mini Game Camera

Depending upon the purported quality and features a "Timelapse Camera" will be a cheaper, less durable, featureless, one trick pony.

As you can see from the video demonstrating a "Trail Camera" it has an enormous list of features (easy to add in software) that are lacking from a tiny/cheap "Timelapse Camera".

The trail cam shoots (depending upon the model and cost) 20K+ 20MP photos / 4K video for a year on a battery pack. They are designed to run 24/7 winter/summer outdoors anywhere. They do timelapse, motion detection, or combo of those two, have invisible IR and 'white flash' and are camouflaged/small animal-proof and people proof (physically lockable and encrypted so if it's stolen it's useless) - which features depends upon the price and manufacturer.

Read recent reviews and do a lot of research before deciding upon a specific manufacturer and model. It's an investment that will last many years for ~ 2 - 5 hundred dollars. Plan to get use out of it after your 'out the window' photo series (like capturing wildlife in the backyard or catching who's stealing packages/newspapers).

If you'd rather use a 'good camera' you'll want an Intervalometer / external timelapse remote control as discussed in this "Learning Timelapse" article - I advise against wearing out a decent camera, cooking it in the Sun on an external power supply.

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An option (And one I'd probably go with) would be the Sony API and one the cheaper supported cameras.

At a quick glance, it looks like a PowerShell script and scheduled task could complete this with ease. Or write something as complex as you want in any language you can make REST requests with.

The last hurdle would be keeping power to the device over a year, but buying some of these cameras for under $200 should be possible.

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An option is a Raspberry Pi. It can be connected to a a Pi camera module or a USB webcam. There is also the option of the Pi Noir camera, which is sensitive to infrared.

It is powered from the mains, no need for batteries. It can be setup to automatically take photos as required, eg with a cron job.

It can be setup to save the photos to its own memory (Micro SD card), and can be connected to a network. So it could automatically upload the photos to cloud storage, or email them somewhere etc.

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