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Old May 8, 2010, 4:38 AM   #1
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Default Camera for remote controlled garden wildlife photography

I'm looking for a camera for doing wildlife photography in the garden using remote control with motion detection from a laptop. My ideal camera would have:

1) Be USB powered so the battery doesn't go flat, OR have a battery life of 12 hours plus
2) Work in low light levels for hedgehog photography
3) Be a Canon so I can use Breeze's PS Remote control software
4) OR have webcam drivers so it can be used directly with ZoneTrigger
5) OR have some other facility for remote capture

Any suggestions?

Thanks,

Mark
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Old May 9, 2010, 10:28 AM   #2
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Check out the chdk wiki website...

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK_in_Brief
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK_User_Manual
http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/FAQ

It has a list of Canon cameras that it supports and does most if not all that you desire. In terms of the power, look for a camera that has an external power supply available.

http://www.bestbatt.com/Canon_Power_...ters_s/125.htm

Low light is a function of holding the camera still - and since you are looking for some sort of remote capability, you are using a tripod? There is no substitute for a tripod, however to help out, a fast lens would help (a large aperture - i.e., a low f number, f2).
USB specifications have a maximum cable length.



Last edited by interested_observer; May 9, 2010 at 10:31 AM.
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Old May 9, 2010, 12:05 PM   #3
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Thanks for that, especially the CHDK project which sounds like it might be just the ticket for the motion detection auto-capture.

FYI, I generally use a USB extender which allows me to have the camera(s) up to fifty meters from my laptop. This means that USB power is readily available local to the camera, but not mains power. I mount the camera on a powered PanTilt head that is also controlled by USB (http://expedition-electrics.mark-ju.net) and so I can control everything from the laptop. It's a fair point about camera speed and using a tripod, but remember that wildlife is mobile so shutter speeds still helps!
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Old May 9, 2010, 3:13 PM   #4
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Hi Mark,

What you are trying to do, isn't really supported in the way you wish to implement it, by way of the USB - at least as a power source. There are some security cameras that make use of power over USB, but they really do not have the image quality that you are looking for. So the external power supply is the way to go. Canon offers these, and they are used by folks doing time lapse photography over very long periods.

I say Canon primary because of chdk, which should narrow your search for a point and shoot that has the best and fastest lens. I would assume that sooner or later you may want to go to a dSLR, however you then loose the versility of chdk. You also loose quite a few features that you are probably using - power zooming among them, but pick up better faster lenses with a larger sensor, with lower noise. You also loose the very deep depth of field of a small sensor.

So, the bottom line is that there is probably not an absolute perfect solution for you - at least right now. Just trading the alternatives to arrive at the best set of compromises for your particular situation, is what you are faced with.

The USB remote pan and tilt is a wonderful find. Part of the problem with the lens is that the fastest lenses are at the shorter focal lengths, so when you zoom in, you effectively slow the lens down.

hope that helps some....
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Old May 11, 2010, 7:04 PM   #5
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Another suggestion: I have a Pentax K20D dSLR, which can be tethered and includes remote software. But tethering isn't necessary. K20D features include continuous shooting, and trap-focus aka Catch-In-Focus. So, I enable continuous drive and trap-focus, and disable auto-power-off. I mount a manual prime lens on the camera, set it on a tripod, plug in a latching remote, and take the rig to a target site (bird-feeder, squirrel run, race finish line, etc). I aim and focus at a point where I expect action, and latch the remote. Whenever anything comes into focus, SNAP! (That's the trap-focus.) And whenever focus is confirmed, SNAP! again, and again, and again... (That's the continuous drive.) New battery life is about 10 hours. A 16gb card holds ~700 14.6mpx RAW images. Would this work for you?
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Last edited by RioRico; May 11, 2010 at 7:14 PM.
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Old May 12, 2010, 12:12 AM   #6
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This Pentax feature 'trap focus' . . . . other dSLR's share that feature? I find that most useful.
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Old May 12, 2010, 3:22 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Monroe View Post
This Pentax feature 'trap focus' . . . . other dSLR's share that feature? I find that most useful.
When I gargle for trap-focus http://www.google.com/search?num=100...f&q=trap-focus or catch-in-focus http://www.google.com/search?num=100...catch-in-focus the hits indicate that many dSLRs have the feature; I'm just not familiar with non-Pentax implementations. For details, check the manuals of specific cameras.
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