The construction industry is a fast-paced, always evolving environment. Construction companies need to keep up with the latest technology in order to stay ahead of the competition and provide additional services for their clients. This article will help you select the best time-lapse cameras for construction applications.
Time-lapse cameras are an excellent way to capture all of the hard work that goes into building something from start to finish without having someone there filming it every day. They let you see what’s going on even when you’re not around, which may be important if your company has multiple locations or remote workers who can’t stay at one site indefinitely.
There are many different types of time-lapse cameras out there so we have broken them down by their ability to do this job and given some pros and cons for our top 5 camera selections.
Check out our reviews of the best time-lapse cameras for construction, complete with a bunch of handy tips on the things you should be looking for in a time-lapse camera.
Brinno TLC200 – Our Top Pick
The only dedicated time-lapse camera on our list, it comes with a 140-degree field of view that allows you to capture a larger area of your construction site. It can also shoot 270,000 frames using only one set of batteries.
Even better, the F1.2 lens lets you shoot in low light so no details are lost in the dark. The camera is sturdy and extremely easy to set up, and the one-year limited warranty and 30-day money-back guarantee should put your mind at ease.
- Batteries can last up to four months
- User-friendly interface
- IPX4 weather-resistant housing
- Checking in may stop filming
Often called the star of the entire Canon lineup, this camera comes with a 20.2 MP CMOS sensor and features the stellar 65-point all-cross-type AF system. It also allows for high-speed continuous shooting of up to 10.0 fps.
The rugged shutter can withstand up to 200,000 cycles. Even better, it ensures quick operation with just a 55-msec shutter-release lag.
- Dual-pixel CMOS AF mimics camcorder video filming
- Consistent focus even in poor lighting
- Intelligent Viewfinder II lets you shoot and change settings and modes
- Wi-Fi Adapter W-E1 may not be compatible with all phones and tablets
This camera comes with a 24.2MP BSI full-frame image sensor with a 1.8x readout speed. It has an impressive 15-stop dynamic range and 14-bit uncompressed RAW. It can also be connected to smartphones via Bluetooth.
Even better, it’s durable and super-easy to use. The compact size makes it easy to place or mount anywhere for capturing time-lapse footage.
- Large-capacity battery
- EyeAF feature
- Compatible with Sony E mount lenses
No camera list would be complete without a Nikon, even one as expensive as this. If you’re not a fan of digital displays, you may prefer this camera with its clear optical viewfinder. It also features a 45.7-megapixel sensor that ensures superb image quality.
Even better, this camera delivers a shooting speed of 7 frames per second. Use the optional battery grip and that rate climbs to 9 frames per second.
- Battery life of up to 1840 shots
- Two memory card slots
- Super-fast burst shooting
Although it’s pricey, this classic is always worth a place on our list. Combining precision with operability, this camera’s Intelligent Viewfinder displays AF points and AF mode. It also has a grid display and a horizontal electronic level.
The 24.2 Megapixel CMOS sensor ensures high-resolution images while the DIGIC 6 Image Processor delivers outstanding processing speed.
- 45-point AF system for fast, reliable performance
- You can turn it into a high-quality webcam
- Built-in wireless technology allows for remote shooting
- No 4k video
You can showcase your work. Whether you took on a construction project that lasted years or spent months remodeling a house or refurbishing a ship, a time-lapse video can highlight your progress. It can also win you potential clients.
Here’s a number of places to show off your time-lapse footage:
- Your website and social media
- Trade shows
- Client souvenirs
A high-end camera isn’t necessary to get excellent time-lapse results. Here’s what you need to look for.
Your camera needs to be able to shoot for months, if not years. By far the single most important criterion, a large battery capacity is essential. Even better are cameras designed to be connected to external batteries, solar panels, or power banks.
It’s likely that your camera will see sweltering heat, endless rain, and maybe even snow. You want its housing to withstand anything the seasons bring from brutal windstorms all the way to lightning.
Unless your client has specific requirements, you generally want a photo every 10-30 minutes. This means you need to set up your camera to capture images at certain intervals. If your camera lacks this feature, however, you can hook it up to an intervalometer.
Typically, construction sites are sprawling spaces that can be too wide for a regular lens. The best way to showcase all the changes that happen throughout your project is through a wide-angle lens.
Here are a few more things to keep in mind if you want to find the best time-lapse cameras for construction.
This is where the magic truly lies. No matter how ridiculously expensive your camera is or how high your image resolution is, if your video is poorly edited, very little can save it. By contrast, images taken by a plain entry-level DSLR can produce excellent results if edited well.
You can edit your own footage with editing software, or hire a professional editing service.
Since you should be making maintenance visits to your camera every few months, it needs to be easily accessed for the duration of your project. You don’t need to pay someone to let you in, for instance, nor should you have to clamber onto scaffolding to reach it.
Ideally, your camera needs to shoot without glare from the sun. Here are a few questions to look into and decide:
- What will the sun position be throughout the year?
- Where will you put your solar panel?
Depending on your camera, it may automatically upload data or you may need to manually upload every few weeks’ or months’ worth of images. Regardless, you’ll be uploading sizable footage to the cloud.
Planning in advance can spare you a nasty shock at the end when you discover how big your bill is. If your client is paying, make sure they understand this beforehand.
Take a look at three of the top camera brands in the market.
A Japanese multinational corporation, Canon Inc. has specialized in imaging products since 1934. It also makes top-notch medical equipment, mixed-reality systems, and even space satellites.
Another renowned Japanese multinational corporation, Nikon Corporation specializes in optics and imaging products. In addition to its iconic cameras, it’s also famous for its imaging lenses and 3D printing solutions.
Founded in 2003, Brinno started as a design business with world-class tech firms for clients. Brinno soon developed the first dedicated long-term time-lapse cameras that are also affordable and user-friendly.
Here are a couple of commonly asked questions.
Generally, we don’t recommend getting a full-frame camera. Here’s why:
- You don’t want to lock around $4000 worth of camera on a pole for years.
- High-quality pictures need expensive storage space on the cloud.
- Your client will likely never notice the difference.
- Post-production magic rather than super-high camera quality is the bottom line.
However, consider a full-frame camera if you need one or more of the following:
- Higher dynamic range
- Low-light capabilities
- Mostly night photography
Several things make a time-lapse better than filming a video:
- You don’t need to be around.
- Still image resolution can be much higher than a video.
- You’d have to speed up the video, negatively impacting quality.
The best time-lapse cameras for construction don’t necessarily have to cost an arm and a leg. As long as the battery life is long enough and the housing is weather-resistant, any entry-level camera should do the trick.
If you want a dedicated time-lapse camera, however, pick up the Brinno TLC200. With some editing magic, it’ll drive up the traffic to your website and wow your current and prospective clients.