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07-11-2011, 04:29 AM   #1
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K20D and time-lapse movies

How many shutter actuations is the K20D good for? -100.000?
Now, do the math . . . my next time-lapse project will involve some 2000 images. One shot each 10 minutes for 6 or seven hours.
Now, it won't take more than 50 of those projects to reach 100K actuations and wear out the mirror/shutter assembly.
Locking up the mirror with Live View won't help since the mirror returns to it's default position after that first shot. Is there any way to lock up the mirror permanently?
I guess the answer is no, and it's freakin' beyond me why they stuff so much software crap into DSLR's without managing to put in a decent mirror lock-up function.
The K20D would otherwise be a fine camera for time-lapse movie making thanks to the built in interval function, but of course a decent mirror lock-up just had to be absent . . . or am I wrong?

07-11-2011, 04:36 AM   #2
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QuoteOriginally posted by emtor Quote
How many shutter actuations is the K20D good for? -100.000?
Now, do the math . . . my next time-lapse project will involve some 2000 images. One shot each 10 minutes for 6 or seven hours.
Now, it won't take more than 50 of those projects to reach 100K actuations and wear out the mirror/shutter assembly.
Locking up the mirror with Live View won't help since the mirror returns to it's default position after that first shot. Is there any way to lock up the mirror permanently?
I guess the answer is no, and it's freakin' beyond me why they stuff so much software crap into DSLR's without managing to put in a decent mirror lock-up function.
The K20D would otherwise be a fine camera for time-lapse movie making thanks to the built in interval function, but of course a decent mirror lock-up just had to be absent . . . or am I wrong?
Why so focussed on locking up the mirror if it's the shutter itself that is rated at 100K actuations? The shutter is an intricate electro-mechanical assembly travelling at high speed and breaking to zero-speed on impact, generating considerable forces on the mechanism.

I think what you'd need is some kind of electro-optical shutter like an LCD that goes from transparent to opaque in the blink of an eye without any moving parts - now THAT would be revolutionary!

Sadly, I don't know of any camera with such a shutter so my reasoning must have a hole in it, or it would have been applied long time ago.

Do remember that "guaranteed 100000 actuations" does not mean it actually will stop functioning at 100K+1!
07-11-2011, 04:38 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by newmikey Quote
Sadly, I don't know of any camera with such a shutter so my reasoning must have a hole in it, or it would have been applied long time ago.
Nikon D40, D50, D70, D70s all have electronic shutters, hence can flash sync to 1/4000 (or was it 1/8000..... ?)
But then it'd be at 6MP, and require an external intervalometer and be of average IQ to the K20D.....

Last edited by adr1an; 07-11-2011 at 07:57 AM.
07-11-2011, 05:09 AM   #4
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But when you're past 100K actuations it starts to get a bit scary.
The K20D is a fine camera and I shoot great portraits with it and I hate the idea of "using" it up for time-lapse movies.
The Nikons mentioned here sound like great tools for time-lapse movies though.

07-11-2011, 07:20 AM   #5
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What do you do with your time-lapse movies? How do you display them? At what resolution? Do you really need each image to be 10-15 megapixels in size? Is 1920x1080 (2mpx) HD quality sufficient? Would another camera (still or video) be more suitable?
07-11-2011, 07:52 AM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
What do you do with your time-lapse movies? How do you display them? At what resolution? Do you really need each image to be 10-15 megapixels in size? Is 1920x1080 (2mpx) HD quality sufficient? Would another camera (still or video) be more suitable?
2mpx is good enough, so another camera would be just fine in that respect. But, what I'm experimenting with are HDR time-lapse movies. As we speak Photomatix Pro is batch-processing HDR-images for use in just such a test-movie. The K20D is nice for HDR since it shoots up to five exposures up to two stops apart. Not having this feature makes shooting hundreds or even thousands of images a rather boring experience. Any DSLR would do if it has this feature. As for interval shooting I can live with building an intervalometer myself or perhaps buying one. A video cam is not good enough, at least not the ones within economical reach.
07-11-2011, 08:19 AM   #7
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I admit, I am not familiar with specific current hardware. But if I worked on a project like yours, I would look for a low-cost camera, new or used, still or video, that supported tethering. And I would write a control script that would bracket 5-7 shots every 10 minutes. I certainly would not risk wearing-out the K20D body I paid US$1k for just 3 years ago!
07-11-2011, 08:21 AM   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by RioRico Quote
I admit, I am not familiar with specific current hardware. But if I worked on a project like yours, I would look for a low-cost camera, new or used, still or video, that supported tethering. And I would write a control script that would bracket 5-7 shots every 10 minutes. I certainly would not risk wearing-out the K20D body I paid US$1k for just 3 years ago!
I shudder to suggest - but isn't this almost what a Canon Powershot running CHDK would be perfect for ? I know they have intervalometer options, and even the stuff like motion-detection etc...

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/CHDK

Worse case, you have to write your own script to do the HDR bracket and the intervalometer - but its not that difficult based on the glance I gave it...


Last edited by adr1an; 07-11-2011 at 08:46 AM.
07-11-2011, 08:45 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
I shudder to suggest - but isn't this almost what a Canon Powershot running CDHK would be perfect for ?
Apparently yes! Again, I can't claim familiarity, but I just gargled for TIME-LAPSE FORUM and found the Timescapes - digital timelapse discussion forum. Perhaps you will find more informed answers there. Good luck!
07-11-2011, 09:24 AM   #10
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A Canon Powershot may work, at least the bigger ones, but also any cheap DSLR allowing tethering would work too. Regarding tethering software: Is it possible to write your own scripts for such software?

The only problem is the computer would go out of juice long before the camera battery. If the camera could bracket five or more exposures and you could set the number of stops between each exp. more or less to suit, it would be a better idea to do the interval part by making/buying an intervalometer that could be powered by a large battery pack, making power supply a non-existent problem. Any camera with a wired remote control socket would do the trick.
07-11-2011, 09:42 AM   #11
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Yeah, but at least with the powershot its all based on the SD card - you copy the firmware hack (its actually more an 'overlay') and the required script on the card - after that no PC required, its just a PnS again..... the only reason you wouldn't go that path is potentially the IQ...

You only need a pc with the powershot if you want the dumping of images direct to a PC - otherwise its all based on files on teh SD card and is all 'in camera'... and you can shoot RAW etc...

http://chdk.wikia.com/wiki/UBASIC

Check the IQ, and the camera list (some other cameras besides the powershots are supported) - and I think you have all you need - no messin round with batteries, external intervalometers etc. Write a script to bracket and interval as you want, put on SD card.. setup on tripod... Instant HDR Timelapse... (with some editing required)

Of course - you could just use your K20D too - but the above advice is based on a cheap - Non-Complicated - way to achieve what you wanted whilst also preserving K20D shutter-operations for more substantial photography work that you appear concerned about (assuming you dont want more than the 5-6MP that a powershot could deliver for your timelapse...)

Last edited by adr1an; 07-11-2011 at 09:51 AM.
07-12-2011, 03:44 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by adr1an Quote
Nikon D40, D50, D70, D70s all have electronic shutters
Those still have the classic electro-mechanic shutter as well. So shutter life is a consideration.
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