2018-05-11

Time-lapse photography with Raspberry Pi

After some more tweaking, i got a reliable workflow for time-lapse photography with a headless Raspberry Pi Zero W and a Camera Module v2, while it does other things as well: It takes every minute one photo with quality specified at 7 and everything else set to automatic, which is suitable for daylight. From 11 pm to 5 am it goes into manual mode with shutter speed at 19 seconds, ISO at 800 and quality set at 9, which helps in low-light. The Sony IMX219 sensor is performing great. The Pi Zero W pauses once each hour for two minutes to get external updates. Once in a while, it is going to crash, because of some heavy multitasking in an environment with limited resources, but it will recover by itself automatically, thanks to the integrated watchdog.
Every day at midnight it takes a break for 15 minutes to create a large zip file of all JPEG images from the past day. After seven days, i download all archives via SFTP and FileZilla, unzip all files with 7-Zip, run them through IrfanView to crop the part i want at 3278x1844, and let ffmpeg make a 1080p 30fps H.264 video with all the edited photos at a CRF of 18. Most steps are automated in Windows batch script. I have been running this particular time-lapse photography for seven weeks, and the nicest thing is to see the motion of the stars at night. Years ago, this could not have been done at this price. Cheers to Eben Upton for the affordable hardware. And thank you to Tim Kosse, Igor Pavlov, Irfan Skiljan, and Michael Niedermayer for the free software.