Steve's Digicams Forums

Steve's Digicams Forums (
-   What Camera Should I Buy? (
-   -   Want Cheap Used Time Lapse w/Big Zoom Camera (

motatcams Jun 4, 2015 10:19 PM

Want Cheap Used Time Lapse w/Big Zoom Camera

I gave up a long time ago lugging around SLR sized cameras everywhere I go. So I end up never taking any pics.

I like the compact size of a Nikon S3000 (the worst camera I ever owned - in fact a friend bot one when I did and he literally threw his in the garbage!) since it is small enough to throw in my pocket and take along.

However I have discovered that I do sometimes go out to take pics specifically in which case a big SLR sized camera is OK.

I recently have been photo documenting the transport of 3 large Elliot compressors, 2 are 190 tons and 1 is 121 tons, and when they slid them onto their rail cars, it would have been an awesome time lapse movie. (An actual movie would be the most boring thing in the world since the sliding velocity is maybe 0.5 inches per second with many pauses along the way.)

And since you need a tripod to do this, a big camera is again not an issue.

And as far as zoom goes, at least 10x optical. (A 40x DSLR-ish camera would be great obviously.)


I'll leave it at getting something used on eBay (or Craigslist if I find something.) It is amazing the deals you can get on old(er) tech and I love the value.

So the first question right off the bat are what are the oldest cameras around that had the TL option? I've done searches on eBay to try and find them but its not bringing back many even if you search descriptions. Web searches bring back just about nothing either. While there might be some guides for current modes, I'm simply not in that market.

What do I want to spend? $50 to $100. I would have no problem going cheaper and would consider going higher if the features were too good to be true at that price level.


The S3000 is an abomination of a camera, it has megapixels yes, but couldn't out-focus milk-smeared glass. Which leads to the question of pixels and focus: What is the point of megapixels if the autofocus is not sharp???
The DSC-HX9V is a camera that received rave reviews, but when I got my hands on one, it got confused and produced the dreaded E:91:01 flash error code. (My theory is that since something like 800v is present in the flash capacitor, when the camera detects any kind of fault, it disables the flash not unlike a lithium ion battery pack shutting itself down.)

Then the auto focus intermittently quit working on anything over a 3.2x zoom.

I would attribute this to poorly written firmware similar to HP printer drivers.


Lowly models, but they work.
I had a 3.2 megapixel model, DMC-LC33 I think - it worked fine and took good pictures. Of course I've got a couple old Nikons from that era and they were good too.
I suspect models before the Megapixel Wars were more robust but they are now so old, their quality is irrelevant.


I read one opinion on a thread by a fellow who had some real opinions on all the various makes. I'll try to summarize his terse advice:
  • Raved about Fujifilm F series low noise abilities
  • Panned Nikon and Cannon
  • Liked Ricoh for macro work
  • Liked Pentax
  • Kodak OK
  • Olympus not the best but very rugged.
The big problem is to get any kind of opinion, you have to have tried a lot of different cameras. I've tried a number but again, I'm stuck in the cheapo used old camera market which frankly considering the progress isn't that bad. Just hope I don't get one that was dropped (!)


I did some research on the Fujifilm F series and they looked good to me, but NO TL!

Then looked at some fixed lens DSLR's... but no TL.

And while I know you can do TL with an intervalometer on many cameras, I'd really like to avoid that - too much stuff to lug around. (However it really depends on how nice a camera I could get and at what price.)

So I'm all ears and will greatly appreciate all opinions/suggestions.
Thanks in advance,

VTphotog Jun 5, 2015 8:01 AM

I have a Minolta D7hi which will do what you are talking about, and I think the other cameras in the D7 line, and the A1 and A2, also. Only 7x zoom, but somewhat larger sensors than most. Sensors are a bit noisy at over 400ISO. These models go back to the early 2000s (D7hi around 2003).
Fuji X-S1, more recently. Lots of zoom. Pretty good noise control up to about ISO 1600. Big, though, and fairly complicated menu system.

PeterP Jun 5, 2015 9:20 AM

Many mirrorless ILC's like the Sony nex5r & nex7r and others can load apps that will do timelapse.

What lens range do you mean by

And as far as zoom goes, at least 10x optical. (A 40x DSLR-ish camera would be great obviously.)?
For instance my 500mm f/4 lens is a 1x , while my 120-300 f/2.8 is a 2.5x
10x would run around somewhere around 20-200mm, 40x simply does not exist in dslr sized lenses.
Image quality of the super zooms much above 3x or 4x is not very good.

motatcams Jun 5, 2015 11:09 AM

There are a whole bunch of ultra-zoom "DSLR's" (fixed lens).

Here are some Nikons:

motatcams Jun 5, 2015 12:56 PM

Found difficulty searching "D7hi" but better results with "7hi" - actually Dimage 7hi.

Probably just a little too old (zoom, pixels) for me - unless I find one crazy cheap (!)

But it does have some time lapse abilities like the 4fps 640x480 movie and the 2-99 time lapse pic number from 1 to 60 min intervals. Too bad it didn't have something between .25 and 60 seconds per pic which is the sweet spot for what I would have just like to do.

VTphotog Jun 5, 2015 5:17 PM

The A1 is pretty much the same camera, but with sensor shift anti-shake. The A2 adds an 8MP sensor. It, and a couple DSLRs were the last cameras produced by Minolta (also an A200) before being bought by Sony. Much of the Minolta technology carried over into Sony's cameras, so there might be a good place to look as well.
Dslr-wise, I have software for my Pentax *istD which allows me to tether the camera to my laptop and take interval exposures, but don't recall offhand the settings available. (And my laptop battery doesn't last very long anymore, anyway)
Shortest interval available on my Pentax K3 is 2 seconds.

PeterP Jun 7, 2015 10:20 AM

Sorry, neither of those you mentioned are DSLR's

They are just largish obsolete Point an Shoots with very tiny 1/2.3-inch sensors almost the same sensors you can find in modern smartphones.

Which is why they can have huge apparent lenses, that do not translate to real DSLR where you would need a truck to carry a lens capable of that range.
Also the optical quality of lenses with much more that 3x range begins to get bad.
Acceptable to some people that want the range, not acceptable to those interested in good image quality.

(NB: the Nikon p510 has a 24-1000mm effective range, a FF DSLR sized 800mm lens weighs in at 10 pounds and is 18 inches long,
you can find 24-105, 100-400mm and 150-600mm lenses (about 4x to 5x) for DSLR's but they are large and heavy and expensive all well over 1000$us.
Sort of gives you a perspective on what you are asking )

Here is a link to what the various sensor sizes look like


Originally Posted by motatcams (Post 1390928)
There are a whole bunch of ultra-zoom "DSLR's" (fixed lens).

Here are some Nikons:

All times are GMT -5. The time now is 9:54 AM.