The CamDo time lapse calculator helps you plan your time lapse footage for your GoPro, ShootX or other camera. It also lets you work out how long an external battery will last using our solar panels/enclosure. Let's answer a few questions to work out what you need. There are 3 main areas to consider:
Numbers in boxes can be changed. The outputs will be recalculated based on the new value entered.
Extra help will be available for each item as you move down the calculator.
The first step is to enter the project length, how often photos are to be taken and from that understand the final clip length.
Enter the number of shooting days. This will be used to help calculate the number of shots to be taken and associated memory requirements. 67 days is the equivalent of 3 months, shooting Monday to Friday.
Enter the number of hours per day actually shooting. Along with the number of days/weeks this will be used to help calculate the number of shots to be taken and associated power and memory requirements.
hours per day
Enter the time (in minutes) between shots. This will be used to help calculate the number of shots to be taken and associated power and memory requirements.
Note: The GoPro camera can only shoot time lapse intervals of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30 and 60 second intervals.
If you want to shoot for an interval longer than 60 seconds, you will need to use the CamDo Blink time lapse controller.
A typical interval for a construction time lapse could be every 10 or 15 minutes.
If you have a target length, input it here. If you are just trying to capture an event and are not sure about this, then just leave the default. The calculation will update this result based on the other inputs to the calculator.
This is typically between 24 frames per second (fps) and 30 fps. If you are unsure leave it as 30 fps.
Based on the above:
Now that we know frames will be taken over the shoot, let's work out what size memory/SD card is needed.
NOTE: If you are unsure, keep the default of 5MB per photo for GoPros and 1.5MB for ShootX (JPEG Quality left at default of 90). Average photo size can vary greatly depending on the scene. It is important to take a couple of photos of the scene you are shooting with the actual camera intended to be used and review the image size. Scene complexity can mean for a full size image, image size can range from 3MB to 6MB per photo.
The reason is that GoPro is not consistent on compression parameters from one version of the firmware to the next. A Hero 3+ Black purchased in October 2013 (and not updated) has jpeg compression set to 93%. A Hero 3+ Black purchased in November 2013 comes with a 98% jpeg compression ratio. The exact same shot is 1.8MB on the first camera and 4.2MB on the second camera. This would not have been expected.
The complexity of the scene also makes a difference, so please take some test shots and check the average image size.
Select your SD card size. The calculator will then tell you how long the card will last. Regardless, please check your installation as often as possible.
The selected SD card will hold up to days of shots or photos, assuming 90% of capacity is considered full for this analysis.
Regardless of how many days of shooting the card can hold, we recommend backing up the images and clearing the card as often as practical to avoid losing shots if something goes wrong.
Let's work out how much power you need for the project. If you need solar power, this will be calculated in the next section.
Why would you use a CamDo Scheduler / ShootX?
For intervals longer than 60 seconds, use our latest Blink timelapse and motion detection controller. Our previous Intervalometer and Programmable Scheduler products can also be used.
For cycle times less than 30 seconds, there is little advantage to turning the camera on and off each time. At 15 seconds, there is no advantage. In that case, use the Programmable Scheduler to turn the camera on for the hours of shooting and set the camera to take time lapse photos at the desired rate instead of stills.
Warning! You have selected a camera on time of less than 24 hours a day without using a Programmable Scheduler or Blink/BlinkX or ShootX. If you are not using a scheduler, you need to adjust your shoot time to 24 hours/day as the camera will be permanently on!
For cycle times less than 30 seconds, there is little advantage to turning the camera on and off each time. At 15 seconds, there is no advantage. In that case, use the Programmable Scheduler or Blink to turn the camera on for the hours of shooting and set the camera to take time lapse photos at the desired rate instead of stills.
NOTE: If you are just using the inbuilt time lapse function of the GoPro camera, select 'No Scheduler'.
Select your type of camera below. This will be used to calculate the power requirements. If you are using ShootX, please choose whether you are uploading or not uploading to CloudX.
Select the internal battery associated with your selected camera above. We recommend removing the internal battery when using Blink or BlinkX. In this instance, select 'No internal battery'.
CamDo offers a solar power option, and a non-solar DRY enclosure option:
Extra batteries can also be purchased for extra 'ride-through' time, with typical combinations available in the drop-down box. eg if you buy the 9W/V44 solar system, and add another V44 battery for extra backup, select the "2 x V44 (88Wh)" option below.
If you are not using solar then choose the battery combination that meets your site visit frequency, by checking the "Battery Summary" to the right.
The battery combination should last approximately days.Batteries
Approx. energy required per day: Wh
Test the actual hardware extensively before deploying it. Do not rely on theoretical calculations alone!
The power calculations are based on the comparative study of GoPro Camera Power Consumption by Model.
When using the Intervalometer or Scheduler such as Blink/BlinkX, a camera ON time of 15 seconds is assumed for each shot with HERO4 cameras and older. HERO5 cameras take a little longer so a 25 second camera ON time per shot is used.
Remember that the battery energy available will be significantly reduced if the temperature is lower or higher than normal room temperature. There is also a leakage loss that reduces the battery life if you expect it to last weeks or longer.
Actual Test. An actual test of the Hero 3+ Black using the intervalometer to shoot one photo per hour, 24 hours a day, managed 21 days for a total of 504 photos before stopping. The photos took 1.5MB on the SD card. This is 4 days less than predicted, but very acceptable performance.
If you don't have permanent power available, let's work out the right solar panel for the project.
It is necessary to establish the energy of the sunlight at your location at the time of year for your project. Use the Solar Irradiance Calculator to look-up the energy available based on your location. Enter the actual direction the solar panel faces, or use the optimal direction if you plan on orienting it in the best direction. If the panel will be in the shade for a portion of the day, reduce the energy figure accordingly. Enter the figure found in the Solar Irradiance box below. Then we can select a Solar Panel.
The strength of sunlight can vary significantly around the world. Use the calculator linked above to work it out for your location. Enter the lowest figure for your location to be conservative.
Now select a solar panel option to see how long it takes to charge your selected battery configuration.
Choose from the following options:
If you are are in an area where the weather is consistently cloudy or rainy then you might consider extra batteries.
Extra batteries provide extra 'ride-through' time - see the battery dropdown selection in the previous section.
Here are some typical numbers from the Solar Irradiance Calculator, facing South.
As can be seen the numbers vary wildly, so it's important to use the Solar Irradiance Calculator to input the correct data.
Energy generated on a sunny day by the selected size of panel: Wh.
Full sun days needed to charge the battery: days.
Cloudy days ride-through by the batteries if they were fully charged: days.
Based on the calculations and inputs above, the following CamDo products are recommended.
Visit the following pages to purchase the recommended equipment for your application. We also have some great resources on our site if you would like to learn more about the nuances of time lapse and the various considerations, including in-depth information covering all the basics and advanced topics that you can review if you are interested in the detail.
So that you can come back later and not lose your settings, copy the following link somewhere or click on the following link and make a bookmark.
These details are automatically copied into the Contact form below, so we know the details of your current project calculations.
NOTE: This calculator is intended to be a guide to the thinking necessary for preparation of a solar powered time lapse installation. It is up to the user to check the accuracy and suitability of any calculations for their particular need. Please report any errors to us as you find them. Good engineering practice is to design the system for the worst case scenario and to build in a buffer for inefficiencies in the system. The calculator is focused on GoPro cameras but can be used for other cameras.
We are always happy to help, please fill in the form below. The "Calculation Details" field will auto-populate as soon as you start using the calculator above.