Time lapse capture on the cheap?

I want suggestions on what gear to buy to capture time lapse video. My main concern is that it be real cheap. Some weather resistance would also be nice. It will be used to make simple videos with the kids who have shown an interest in that stuff. We would be shooting plants growing, tides, skies, animals decompose and all that kind of stuff. Hence the need for some degree of outdoor ruggedness although I guess I could improvise on that a little bit if need be.

I know there are plenty of good videos of all that around, but I want them to see both the actual event and the video for them to bridge them. I suspect they are seeing time lapse videos as some sort of fantasy or trickery and want them to see it correspond with the real thing.

Thanks in advance.

Do you have access to a power source? What minimum resolution would you be satisfied with? Do you want to do time lapse on the scale of hours or months? Are you concerned with it being stolen?

No to a power source. At least not in many cases.

Resolution can be anywhere from VGA up. We will be seeing them in my home computer and this will be internal consumption only.

Most projects will be in the range of days and I guess I will want to compress a day into a minute or less. I guess that means a shot every second to every hour, depending.

I don’t think it being stolen is much of a concern.

I’ve done low-budget timelapse photography (detailed here), but that was at home using a webcam and an old laptop, with mains power available.

There are small standalone camera/recorder devices that might be able to do what you want - maybe something like this: http://photodoto.com/review-the-flip-mino-hd-video-camera/ - but the problem you’re up against is going to be power supply - you might have to rig up some kind of large, external power source - maybe based on a car battery with the correct voltage converter or something.

Or do what the nature documentaries largely do for this - fake it by setting up a natural-looking scene in or adjacent to your studio.

Very cool, Mangetout. That’s exactly what I am after. Carrying a car battery might prevent some whims of beach videos where long walks are involved.

Does the Flip do time lapse? It doesn’t say on that review or in Amazon’s page.

I think it does - one of the comments on the page I linked says someone tried it, but that the battery let them down.

Until it finally broke, I had a Pentax Optio 43WR which was immersible in water and somewhat shockproof. It also had an intervalometer to take time-lapse pictures, and I used it several times to that effect.

I believe the latest incarnation (Pentax Optio 80?) has the same features. I don’t know the price, but you could try looking for other models used if they’re cheap now.

There are a few pieces of software that will put together a movie from stills. I used a slideshow app on the Mac that let you specify tiny intervals of time and export as a movie. I forget what exactly it was called.

I have a Cuddeback trail camera. I have used it in time laps mode and it works very well.

Some Canon Powershot models have a time lapse setting in movie mode, but the frame-per-second option (mine has 1 or 2 fps) might not work for things that take more than a couple of hours.