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The Ultra-Affordable HD Time Lapse DSLR

The Ultra-Affordable HD Time Lapse DSLR

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My good old Canon 20D is seeing new life as an HD time lapse camera.

By Jack Howard

March 4, 2010

For the past few years, my good old banged up, high-mileage 8 megapixel Canon EOS 20D with BG-E2 grip has sat, mostly undisturbed by the passage of product cycle after product cycle, in the back of my gadget cabinet as one SLR innovation after another marched forth: bigger, brighter higher-rez LCD screens, faster bursts and buffers, Live View shooting, HD Video, and cleaner high ISO images, just to name a few.

 

In its heyday, the 20D was a rock-solid mid-market general purpose SLR. For a long while this was my workhorse camera for news and commercial assignments. But by today's standards, it falls a little short on a couple of fronts especially high ISO image quality and RAW burst rate. But these things don't matter at all for the new missions for my 20D, which is now beginning to see a new life as a dedicated HD time lapse capture camera in conjunction  the Canon TC-803N multi-function remote controller.

Full HD video is 1920x1080 pixels, so there's resolution to spare on my 20D's 3504 x 2336 chip. Same goes for the 6.3MP Canon EOS 10D: with its 3072x2048 chip. For that matter, even the classic Canon EOS D30 with its "huge" pixel wells on its 3.2 megapixel 2226 x 1460 chip is big enough for full HD Time lapse.

Here's a quick video tutorial on stringing still shots into HD Time Lapse video clips.

Here's the funny thing. I wasn't holding on to my old 20D for this–or any–particular reason. It just sort of happened that I never actually got around to trading it in. A few years ago, it was worth a bit more on the used market; but the last time I saw one in stock in the Used Department, in much nicer overall condition than mine–I might add–it was selling for just around $300 for the camera body, charger and booklets.

Now I can't imagine trading it in! But what a great deal for picking up an SLR for time lapse at that price!

I'm thinking of ideas for making time lapse sequences in conjunction with other shoots and have been sure to keep my stash of BP-511A batteries charged should the time lapse bug bite out of the blue. The fact that this is a "second" camera means that I can think differently about time lapse–I could wind it up and let it go for a week as a pot of dirt turns into a flower in the garage, and grab my newer Canon SLRs for any other non-TL shoots that might spring up. Below is an 18-hour, 3010 frame time lapse during the December Nor'Easter shot with my trusty old 20D and a Lensbaby Composer.

 

 

Turns out there's still a lot of life in this classic SLR!  As I've mentioned elsewhere, I've really caught the time lapse bug, so I'm looking forward to making more cool compressed time video in the coming weeks and years.

And the tape on the grips? That's a long story for another day.

Got any other great uses for older camera gear? Let us know!

 

Adorama's Used Department is always buying and selling great gear. Get in touch with them via email to buy or sell gear!

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