Group

Camera Traps / Feed

Looking for a place to discuss camera trap troubleshooting, compare models, collaborate with members working with other technologies like machine learning and bioacoustics, or share and exchange data from your camera trap research? Get involved in our Camera Traps group! All are welcome whether you are new to camera trapping, have expertise from the field to share, or are curious about how your skill sets can help those working with camera traps. 

discussion

Experience with Microwave Motion Sensors!

Hi all, I'm looking for anyone who has any experience in using Microwave Sensors, such as the rcwl-0516, to detect the motion of birds/mammals for triggering camera traps....

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@TomRS  @greghall and @htarold my initial (and brief) tests with the microwave sensor (same as this one: https://wiki.dfrobot.com/MicroWave_Sensor_SKU__SEN0192) I have suggest it's really sensitive to movement at fairly close range (~2m or less). Whilst this is impressive (like, it can detect my finger moving a few mm @ ~1-2m), it suggests that in order to avoid a lot of false positives/blank images, a fairly high tolerance or threshold would have to be set in the code. This will take a bit of trial and error to get right I reckon. Even though it has an in-buit potentiometer to toggle 'sensitivity' (equates to distance), even at the lowest setting, which is what I have it at, it's still really sensitive out at several metres. It definitely does appear to have an ability to tell the difference between a 'one off' or superficial movement, and more consistent movement that might be expected when an animal moves through an area. Maybe a combo PIR (interrupt) and microwave sensor (double checks after wakeup) could be a goer...although that could be a bit slow...Anyway, thought I'd share...

Last year I did some tests with 2 rcwl-0516 sensors and a single LoRa radio in order to detect human activity on two paths/roads leading to our home. This worked well and as far as i could tell was telling me if something was coming or going, and even infer if there were were more than one coming or going. Each "trap" consisted of two rcwl-0516s on 3 to 5 metre cables which triggered interrupts on an 8v Arduino pro mini, whether sensor A or B triggered first denoting the direction of travel. Whether deer or dogs were triggering the traps was not conclusive to me, but I did not experience to my knowledge any false positives caused by birds or flies - which had been a major issue with PIRs. I was detecting at about 5m to 8m distance. Knowing when the postman was about to arrive gave me time to lock up my dog. It detected bikes, horses, vehicles and humans as I expected. Triggering something like an ESP32 Cam would probably very simple, IF there are enough spare pins to act as interrupts - which was my main problem. HTH.

Thanks @PaulG and @TomRS I've now ordered some of the same model units, so shall hopefully get to test em out soon!

Cheers,

Rob

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discussion

Overview: Depth Sensing Technologies for Camera Traps

Hi I am cross-posting a conversation I had with some people from the Global Open Science Hardware group and figured yall were the experts on this stuff: https://forum.openhardware...

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I'm not sure its been tottally worked out.  Molly Cummings told me she thought it could work.  She has a few recent papers using polarized light with fish.  

https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/full/10.1098/rsif.2021.0703

https://opg.optica.org/DirectPDFAccess/153F482A-D3F4-4421-90E56D0D23AE4CA7_335662/ao-55-3-626.pdf?da=1&id=335662&seq=0&mobile=no

@hikinghack @Nycticebus-scientia We just ran an open-source competition on this exact question! DrivenData is a small group of data scientists, and we partnered with the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology (MPI-EVA) and the Wild Chimpanzee Foundation (WCF) to compile enough hand-labeled data to apply machine learning to the depth problem. In your original post, this falls under the AI Prediction Based category. The code behind all of the top-performing models is freely available on GitHub. We're hoping to make these freely available in the future in the a more user-friendly way.

@JHughes to your point about motion sensor camera traps being continuously set off -our free, open-source web application called Zamba Cloud uses machine learning to automatically sort videos by either what animal they contain or whether they are blank. You just upload a set of videos, and the web application will output a list of labels for each video! This may not address the battery drainage problem, but can help with filtering out blank videos and identifying which actually captured animals.

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article

Introducing the WILDLABS On the Edge Fellows

WILDLABS Team
We're proud to introduce the first WILDLABS On the Edge Fellows for 2022, Loretta Schindlerova and Meredith Palmer! Working alongside expert Edge Impulse mentors, these two fellows will use embedded machine learning to...

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discussion

Comparisons: Close-up Lenses for Camera Traps

Hey Guys! We're setting up a camera trap within a woodpile to see what mammals enter/exit the nesting box we've included there. For this purpose, we'd need a camera...

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I really like your approach Colin, but because I couldn't find any magnets that were small enough for the purpose I resorted to using the complete glasses lens and attaching it with thin strips of velcro (you can buy velcro tap in rolls at the hardware) and on the camera body I used thick double-sided tape for a step-up for attaching the velcro. It works, but the velcro shows signs of deteriorating after 6-8 months in the Australian sun, and the full lens not fitting under the lens hood allows moisture and fine bark particles etc. to get behind it. I'm using Swift 3C cameras and have used +1.5 and +2 lenses with great results. Any advice on where to get small but strong magnets? Re the suggested coax sealant - beware using it for long periods where it is exposed to hot sun. It becomes very difficult/impossible to remove completely. In its intended electrical applications it is meant to be used as a water-proofing over a high quality electrical tape seal. If is has to be removed the sticky gunk remains on the tape.

I've purchased my magnets here and the ferrous mounting stripes here. I've used UV cure superglue for attaching the magnets, as standard superglue sometmes failed after longperiod of being wet.

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discussion

Wifi trail camera

Hello again everyone been a while since I have been online a lot of great ideas I see being posted.   The reason for my post is I am working on a idea for a long range...

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This seems like an eminently sensible thing to try. The main issue I've seen with most wifi cameras is that their antennas are omnidirectional - i.e. they send in every (horizontal) direction, because they don't know where the other wifi endpoint is. That means their signal doesn't go very far, but it's easy to connect. The tplink (and ubiquiti) long range devices have very directional antennas, so their signal is very focussed in that direction, which effectively means it remains quite strong for some distance. They also have to listen for the (more-interesting) return signal though from the wifi camera, and that could cause you grief. However, the highly-directional antenna can pick up fainter signals, from the direction they are pointing at, so it may be ok.

Getting wifi (or any radio signal) over any distance depends a lot on circumstances (distances, terrain, vegetation, weather, interference, ...) so I can't generalise to say this would/wouldn't work. You'd have to try it and see (or get into wifi signal strength measurements and calculations, which you can do with some apps). Some cameras also have removable antennas, so you could replace an omnidirectional (stick) antenna with something much more directional. Or, set up a wifi bridge, with e.g. a ubiquiti point-to-point link, with one end is close to your wifi camera (to pick up its weaker signal) and the other end at the house.

There are plenty of wifi wildlife cameras on ebay, which I understood use their own wifi hotspot to learn how to connect to a broader wifi network - same as the reolink, etc. when you first set them up. Lacking a broader wifi network they might offer their own as a fallback, so you can download while walking by. But I've not tried them, as they are quite expensive, and I have little faith their wifi signal would reach far enough (as per above) for our needs. I'm trying to build my own wildlife cameras now, using esp32cam modules and an external wifi antenna, just waiting on a few more parts :-)

 

Markusb very true but those camera are not truly wifi, they are a wifi /Bluetooth camera , meaning the create there own  wifi network to down load the pics you have to connect to that network.

 

Now in saying that I have not experimented in writing a code using a programming language to be able to turn on and off wifi or Bluetooth and then turn it back off and tell the code to be able to do this ever two hours or so.

But  using a small form factor pc that is connect to a ubiquiti or tplink long range wifi device this is possible to a Bluetooth / wifi trail camera 

Ok, understand. Note, the bluetooth feature is very short range, just to configure the camera from your phone when standing nearby. Wifi will give you some longer range and greater bandwidth for image/video downloads. If it is only offering its own wifi network then that is sad, but unsurprising (they try to be very simple/cheap). Doesn't change my point though about the signal strength - if you are trying to get a really long distance (which is "over 100m" on most wifi cameras) then you will need to add something in between. A dedicated NUC/RPi/small-PC would be one option - but your reolink already has a simple PC built in, that offers the remote control and download features and storage to an SD card, etc. You can write your code to talk to that, from your home, using the reolink API/CGI (https://support.reolink.com/hc/en-us/articles/900000625763-What-is-CGI-API). The small PC might still need to handle the "long-distance" wifi link if appropriate for your needs, in which case a ubiquiti/tplink wifi bridge (and a PC at home) might be more cost-effective? That can basically extend the camera's wifi back to your home.

This might need some whiteboarding and actual site-information to optimise :-) 

 

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article

Camera traps and community knowledge in Eastern India

Oryx (Journal)
This article argues for a conservation method that integrates monitoring technology and community knowledge. Focusing on pangolins, the most trafficked animals globally, the study combines camera trap data from the...

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article

Identification of Wildlife in Camera Trap Images

MDPI (Multidisciplinary Digital Publishing Institute - Journal)
Camera trap wildlife surveys can generate vast amounts of imagery. A key problem in the wildlife ecology field is that vast amounts of time is spent reviewing this imagery to identify the species detected. Valuable...

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discussion

Feedback Needed: Wireless Camera Traps

I am interested in making long distance wireless camera traps ( approx 15 kms), but as a proof of concept i am trying to make a short distance one (approx 500 metre) first,...

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Just be aware of the limitations; you'll be transmitting at a very slow baud rate on frequencies that may have strict duty cycle (transmission time) and ERP (transmission power) limits. Check up on the rules for the region in which you intend to operate and make sure that the restrictions fit in with your intended application.

The following two papers describe our attempst to develop an open source RPi camera trap platform with long range communications capability, and may be of interest:

Nazir, S., Fairhurst, G., Verdicchio, F., 2017. WiSE - a satellite-based system for remote monitoring. Int. J. Satell. Commun. Netw. 35, 201–214. https://doi.org/10.1002/sat.1176

Nazir, S., Newey, S., Irvine, R.J., Verdicchio, F., Davidson, P., Fairhurst, G., Wal, R. van der, 2017. WiseEye: Next Generation Expandable and Programmable Camera Trap Platform for Wildlife Research. PLoS One 12, e0169758. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0169758

More details can be found here: https://erg.abdn.ac.uk/wise/

/Scott

 

Vasudev

I have had no issues using ubiquiti device and pushing internet out to 5 miles line of site, what I am curious what are you using for you camera on the other end, I have always wanted to try and build a long distance wifi trail camera ( true wifi ).

is it solar powered or battery powered that has been my issue trying to figure out the power issue 

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discussion

Cellular and Lora camera traps

Dear all, I'm looking for feedback from field experience using cellular and/or LoRA camera trap. How is the reliability of those systems and how strong have to be the...

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Hi Antoine,

I am intrigued myself about how well a LoRa-based trail camera might work. I wonder if the 'LoRa' element is a more traditional radio connection? And of course the system still appears to rely on a cellular connection at the base station end. But interesting nonetheless. 

On the radio side, there's also the CuddeLink model: https://www.cuddeback.com/cuddelink

However, I'd be sitting down when you look at the price. 

I've had reasonable success with older model 3G cameras such as the Bolymedia MG983G-30M. From memory, it couldn't transfer video files larger than 10sec in length and it gets a bit glitchy if the batteries are running low. But, it worked well enough for me at the time.  

If you do end up looking closer at the 'LoRa' model, please let us know how it works.

Cheers,

Rob

Hi Antoine,

I had not seen these before, but I'll echo Rob in wondering if the radio links in these are truly what most would consider 'LoRa'.  That tech/protocol generally has very low data transfer rates and would be quite challenged in sending pictures.  That said, what they call it may not be relevant if it works for you. I would just be cautious of thinking it could integrate with other 'LoRa' devices or networks.  Some other web sites that mention this system describe the radio link as 'proprietary'.

Kyler

Antoineede they are a mesh style of camera, one links to the other and then send pictures back to the home unit where you either send them via cellular or you check the sd card. The cover Lora and cuddielink cameras do this but they play hell on battieries.

I had a cuddelink system and got rid of it , the home unit was to hook up to a pc and then from there you could easily wept a scrip to send to txt message or email etc but they scrapped that idea 

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discussion

Try our open-source automatic camera trap detection/labeling tool!

Hi everyone! We are spreading the word about a free, open-source tool called Zamba that...

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This sounds so cool! I will try it out and spread the word.

Wow, Zamba looks like a great tool. I'm curious about the terms of data use and privacy of the data uploaded to Zamba by users. I couldn't find that info on the website, could you point me in the right direction?

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article

Low-cost underwater camera trapping and deep learning

Wake Forest University
This study breaks ground in outlining a methodology for a system of low-cost, long-term camera traps (Dispersed Environment Acquatic Cameras) that can be deployed over large spatial scales in remote marine environments...

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article

Caiman: Images as Sources of Intelligence

Sensing Clues Foundation
CAIMAN is a product from the Sensing Clues Foundation that automatically classifies animals on images from camera traps. It aims to be available by the end of 2021, contact the Sensing Clues team for more details. This...

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article

Technical Difficulties: Pangolin in a Haystack

Juliana Masseloux
In her case study from our Technical Difficulties Editorial Series, Juliana Masseloux discusses her challenges in working with camera traps to study elusive and rare animals like the pangolin, and shares her best advice...

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discussion

Mesh camera trap network?

Does anyone have something to share about wireless camera traps that make use of a mesh-network type of architecture. One such solution, BuckeyeCam allows cameras to route images...

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Hi Capreolus, hi all,

As this thread seems to have come alive again, I thought it might finally be time to share some of the progress that's been made on a LoRa connected camera trap system developed by the Zoological Society of London called Instant Detect 2.0. There are already some blogs on this site about Instant Detect 2.0 so I’ll just focus on the LoRa camera here.

Sending images using an off-the-shelf LoRa module and protocol isn’t possible, so we had to develop our own protocol (MAC and Application layers) from scratch using the LoRa physical layer.

We designed this protocol to meet with EU radio emissions standards and usage restrictions (duty cycles) so that the system can be CE certified, and we have also designed protocol variants for many other countries  based on their radio regulations. Our goal is to have variants developed that allow the system to be used legally in every country.

The Instant Detect 2.0 LoRa cameras have now been undergoing testing and optimisation for almost 3 years. The key requirements we have designed for and now have working are:

1. 100% reliable transmission (no images are lost in the ether),

2. maximise range (regardless of terrain and vegetation),

3. maximise speed (this reduces power consumption and on-air time),

4. multiple cameras sending images at once (deconfliction management and queuing),

5. minimise power usage so the whole network can run off batteries (including the base station),

6. easy to set-up by non-technical users (it just works).

The Instant Detect 2.0 system is now undergoing field trials to prove its capabilities and find its limits and if all goes to plan we hope to have it available sometime next year.

Hi Sam,
I´ve been waiting for your Instant Detect 2.0 .
So great to hear about your progress. Please keep us updated!

Greetings from Austria,
Robin

Hi Sam,

Impressive!  Any chance the LoRa code is open source?  I should like to take a gander.

Thanks

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article

Technical Difficulties: Understanding the Realities

Colby Loucks
In their three-part interview from our new series Technical Difficulties, Colby Loucks and Eric Becker share the failures they've encountered and learned from throughout six years of working on the WWF-US Wildlife Crime...

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article

Technical Difficulties: A Deployment Checklist

Alina Peter
In Alina Peter's and Kristen Snyder's contribution to the Technical Difficulties Editorial Series, you'll receive a practical checklist of factors and questions to consider at various stages of your conservation...

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discussion

Advice needed: Beginner's Conservation Tech Starter Kit

Hi Wildlabbers! Ellie here, using our forums to get my own advice from all of you for a change! As some of you know, I don't originally come from a conservation tech...

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Hey Rob!

Thanks for all the tips! Getting 2 SD cards was a good reminder. I'd put extra batteries on my shopping list, but forgotten an extra SD card. Do you have a recommendation for a minimum SD card size?? I don't have any understanding of how long it'll take one of any size to completely fill up. 

I also think I'll try a little of both for video vs. still images, but the majority of it will probably be video to see how the squirrels are behaving/fighting. 

And I'm way ahead of you with the picnic table idea. These squirrels will be treated to some very fun props and dining opportunities along the way.

 

Hey Ellie--

Glad to see you getting started with this. 

I'll speak to the data-storage question, it might be worth it for you to do something like paying for extra google drive space rather than go through the external hard drive process. That way you're ensuring you don't have to worry about losing your drive or just leaving it at home. It's $30 US for 200GB of space for a year, which is quite reasonable, especially for a single recorder / camera trap. 

I'd also make sure you have an SD card reader, and maybe a sealed card holder/wallet to keep data safe while it transitions from the field. How much to budget for batteries will depend on exactly what sensors you end up purchasing but in my experience, ordering high-end alkaline batteries is the best bet (for example, in the Duracell line, their Procell D batteries really do perform better than the normal consumer level coppertop batteries). I'd recommend playing around with the scheduler software for whatever acoustic sensor you end up obtaining to figure out whether you'll be limited by power or storage depending on how you set things up.

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discussion

Old camera traps go cellular

Hi there, did you see this new gadget: spypoint cell-link? This may give our old camera traps a new life. What do...

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Oh very cool Robin. Do you mind if I ask how much it is for the unit?

Thank Capreolus,

for your feedback, did you try it where the cellular network is weak? 

Thank you.

 

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discussion

App Development Environment for Commercial Trail Cameras

I have recently prototyped a programming environment that allows me to customize the firmware of a commercial trail camera (Browning BTC7A) by adding new functions/features...

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much appreesh @StephODonnell 

I've put together a short slide deck outlining the concept and status (see attached PowerPoint).  Critcally, I'm looking for a 1 to 3 "inaugural open source developers" to help launch the effort.   Ideally, these developers would be associated with a project in need of enhanced firmware. I've already spoken with @Alasdair about this, and it looks like there could be an opportunity based on one of his projects.  Please repond on this thread (or message me directly) if you know of anyone who might be interested or available.  Skillset looks like:

•C (C++?) for Feature Development

•Python (for tool development)

•Thread-X RTOS

•Embedded System Software Design

•GitHub/Colab/Open Source Development Environments

Ability to Operate (and to help define) a Nascent Software Development Environment

@Freaklabs 

Akiba may be interested?

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discussion

How to dissociate the detector sensor from the camera in a camera trap surveyed area?

I want to film the reaction of a predator (wolf) attacking sheep equipped with a repellent. For that, I plan to place the sheep in a small enclosure keeping the sheep inside but...

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I think it would be technically possible. Something like the camera being put to sleep, and only activated when an outer sensor is triggered. I would be more worried about getting ethical approval for such a study where the aim is to have a live domestic animal being attacked by a predator in a confined space.

Hi Egil, indeed, ehtcial approaval is of course needed and I will ask for it for sure! (But note that it is hard to explain farmers that I need ethcial approuval for that project aiming at reducing attacks, while they get attacks every other weeks despite fences, livestock guarding dogs and/or shepherds !!).

My guess is that the camera triggering will prove to be far less of a challenge than getting ethical approval for penning livestock where predators can reach them. If you have such a high rate of wolf attacks in free-ranging flocks then you can directly measure the decrease in rate of attacks in flocks that have the repellent vs those that do not. 

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article

Wildlife Insights Launches

Wildlife Insights
Wildlife Insights is excited to announce the public release of their new platform! Read on to learn about all the useful features you'll find on Wildlife Insights, and check out WILDLABS' Tech Tutors episode with...

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discussion

Time lapse camera: recommendations needed

Hi, I need a good model with time lapse to take pictures in the rainforest. Any thoughts? I never used time lapse before on CT's. I am looking at the RECONYX HP2X...

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Hi again,

DSLRs are not that complicated and they are also used in rainforests by photographers (for "nice" non-sccientific images). I have heard reports that termites can be rough though! I have seen people making heavy duty metal "overboxes" to protect against asian elephant "vandalism". 

I have no experience myself with Reconyx ultra fire models and merely mentioned you might want to consider them as they have higher resolution and can thereby potentially record smaller details. With these small sensor cameras, as trail cameras are, the actually resolution is likely limited by the quality of the lens though! 

With a DSLR you have a large sensor (= good quality pixels (less noise)), full control over the lens quality and angle of view BUT the setup will be considerably more expensive. I believe you could get comparable syncronisation of multiple cameras with either DSLRs or trailcameras. 

Hi Ivonne,

Have you considered using a GOPRO? They have some pretty natty features now  and they have a good range of mounting and waterproofing gadgets. If you don’t need traditional camera trap features these work well and you can dial up the image quality to suit your needs.

Dave 

Do you need the photos during the timelapse, or just all at once at the end?  If the latter, how many exposures will you need per timelapse recording?  Depending on your answers, that might limit you to only options that let you retrieve images during recording - perhaps requiring wifi or celular?

Not knowing your requirements there, just some general thoughts:

GoPros

I too would think a GoPro would be an option, iff wide angle suits your purposes (though, if resolution isn't a high priority, GoPros do have exposure-time cropping options).  Cheap, robust, with myriad accessories easily available.  They also have wifi support - though, last I checked, you can't browse & download images while the GoPro is in recording mode (not even between exposures).  Maybe newer models have removed that limitation?

There's also relatively novel options like the GoPro MAX with 360° video recording.

Trail cameras

I've used several different trail cameras that have timelapse options - they're pretty common.  I haven't used Reconyx ones, though.  In general I find trail cameras to be pretty useless photographically - fine, maybe, for just monitoring wildlife activity.

Mirrorless / DSLR

If you do go for a 'real' camera, go for one with (at least the option of) a pure electronic shutter.  Few DSLRs have this option.  Some - but not all - mirrorless do.  Mechanical shutters (a) can cause motion blur and (b) tend to break after a few hundred thousand exposures.  e.g. if you're doing one exposure per minute, you'd get less than a year from most consumer cameras.

The Sony a6100 (or later) cameras are good options for this - they're old and therefore can be found very cheap, but the image quality is still light-years ahead of trail cameras & GoPros.

A slightly more up-market option - probably only of any interest if night-time exposures are important - would be a Nikon Z5.  Alas they're current-model so you probably won't find big discounts, but you get:

  • Excellent image quality (provided 24MP is sufficient resolution for you - are you aiming for 8K timelapse?).  There are higher-end options (Z6, Z7) as well as Sony a7r options if you need higher resolution or (marginally) better image quality.

  • The ability to use practically any lense ever made on them (their Z mount supports adapters to practically any other mount system).  In case you have particular lens requirements, or existing lenses you want to use.

  • Twin UHS-II SD card slots, so you can record to two cards simultaneously if data loss (from a faulty SD card) is a concern.

Keep in mind, though, that most mirrorless/DSLRs have limitations on how many exposures they'll allow on their built-in intervalometers (e.g. 9999 for Nikons).  But there's usually ways around that using $10 plug-in intervalometers, if need be (and fancier options if you want more control, such as "bulb ramping" for recording across day & night smoothly).

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