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 New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse 
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Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
Posts: 121
Post New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
Please forgive this announcement / ad. I've asked for but gotten no response from the admin regarding how to post a product announcement, so I decided to proceed by posting here.

Time-lapse camera specialist Harbortronics is adding a new outdoor camera housing to it's product mix, complete with a variety of mounts, and integrated into complete time-lapse systems. The new 'Cyclapse' family of components, addresses customer requests and experience gained over 11 years of developing, manufacturing, direct sales and support of long term time-lapse systems.

The Cyclapse housing will accommodate full frame SLR and medium format cameras within a very compact, water-tight, weatherproof housing. A full set of mounting solutions have been developed for the housing, along with matching mounts for solar panels. The installed system will look tidy and professional on any job site, and provide years of operation.

Autonomous operation is the intended application for the Cyclapse Classic systems, allowing image collection for extended periods without connection to AC mains or networks. As with the original 'Time-Lapse Package' from Harbortronics, the included electronics are highly efficient. Harbortronics camera systems have been installed overlooking construction sites, dam removal projects, art installations, glaciers, agricultural fields, wild animal studies, and monitoring an amazing variety of other long term processes.

The 'Cyclapse Classic -Standard' system can take 200 or more pictures per day when installed almost anywhere on the planet, and includes a 24MP Canon T6i camera. A wide variety of SLR cameras have already been selected as options for the system, and will be included on the new website over the coming days.

The 'Cyclapse Classic – Extreme IQ' system makes use of the Pentax 645Z medium format camera to produce images that are unsurpassed by any other time-lapse camera system available at any price, all while housed in a tiny, light weight, reasonably priced package. For projects that require the ultimate image quality, the Phase One iUX camera is also an option!

Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:42 pm
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Joined: Wed Nov 11, 2009 10:45 am
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Location: Merritt Island, Florida, Estates Unitas
Post Re: New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
Shouldn't be a problem. Many of us on here who make, have posted announcements which are thinly veiled commercials for our stuff. If they were going to complain about it, I would have received the most complaints.

I've been a big fan of the harbortronics systems for years. I'd have a lot of them if i could afford it. What I'd love to see from you guys is some sort of economy system for seasons timelapse, possibly using an economical fixed lens or mirrorless body. I've tried those little brinno things but they don't survive as long as I'd like to shoot for. There doesn't seem to be anything priced between them and you. The market size in that area might be a lot bigger than you think. Your excellent systems almost have to be limited to construction and research studies with a grant budget. Nerds who do seasons timelapse would each like to put out as many cameras as possible because the best stuff shows a year in 12 seconds. You need multiple cameras to get any reasonable amount of it recorded. There are a whole lot of people who would get into it in a big way if it was made affordable.

If you're interested, there have been several discussions on here about flicker caused by cloudy and sunny days. Blending shots taken throughout the day is one way. Another, more effective way which would be really easy to do when designing your own controller would be to shoot just before dawn every day at a time when the light reaches some threshold brightness. The pictures would always have even, diffused lighting because the sun is below the horizon. The brightness is always the same because the circuit would trigger when a certain brightness happened, not at a particular time of day. It wouldn't hurt to give me a discount on a dozen systems if you use the idea.... :D

Mon Jul 27, 2015 3:51 pm

Joined: Mon Apr 23, 2012 2:18 am
Posts: 20
Post Re: New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
Hi sciencelookers!

I really like what the harbourtronics people are selling, but the problem is how much they charging for theirs systems, as you say.
The housing is sometimes more expensive than the cameras that goes inside.
I tried really hard to find some more cheaper/reasonable solution, from electronic box's to any kind of box that would fit the timelapse housing requirements, without any luck.
I also crossed my path with those brinno cameras, but I decided to say to the client that I would not be hold responsible for the reliability of the timelapse system.
I did lost the client, and in the end the brinno cameras that the client installed went bananas.

Yes, I would like to see something in the middle that could fit my budgets.
Trying to explain to a client that a box is costing as much as the DRL camera with a lens is quite difficult.

Maybe some day someone will find what many of us would like to have.

As for harbourtronic, yes their products are top, so they are charging for what their product stands.


Sun Aug 16, 2015 12:01 pm

Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
Posts: 121
Post Re: New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
Interesting comment on prices.

We price our equipment to yield a reasonable profit, but certainly not a large one. There is a lot of engineering that goes into this, and no-one in the long term time-lapse market is making more than a few hundred systems per year. We've sold about 4000 systems since we began, and I suspect that's a pretty large number in our field. Have a look sometime at the price of other SLR based time-lapse camera systems, and I think you'll find that our system prices are significantly less than every other manufacturer... in each and every case, as far as I'm aware.

I never intended to position Harbortronics in the lowest-cost position in the market, but then again, when we started making integrated systems 11 years ago, there wasn't much of a market! Sometimes I wonder if we are priced a bit low when making comparisons. I think the reason our price is lower is because I'm doing all of the design work and technical support. If you call with a problem, I'll probably be the one talking to you. We have a very small team of people here.

Sun Aug 16, 2015 3:39 pm

Joined: Tue Feb 03, 2015 3:40 pm
Posts: 7
Post Re: New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
Late arrival to the conversation but here goes...

Hi Mark, I'm a Harbortronics customer - and fan! - but I find myself echoing the sentiments of sciencelookers and LightTime. I don't think their comments are criticisms of the cost of your units. They're well made and very reasonably priced in the market place. But they're in a completely different league for consumer and prosumer users. In the market you have the Brinno's at the lower end which a lot of people sound like they have issues with (haven't used them myself so can't comment), and then Harbortronic's units and beyond from $3k upwards with very little in between. I think there's a big market for that in between product. Something that doesn't necessarily have the full grunt of a DSLR but is weather resistant and has the battery legs to last weeks, months or years.

For example I'm currently in the position of quoting for a time lapse project that runs for well over a year. I don't want to commit our Harbortonics units to the project over that time frame because frankly I've lost faith in our cameras. Last project I had two die on me mid-job - one from shutter failure, the other from an unspecified camera error - which was a major stress and embarrassment. Could have just been bad luck, could have been hot weather (which we're having a lot more of now). Definitely no fault of the time lapse unit, the Harbortronics units have been great workhorses for us on some very demanding projects. I just want a camera with less moving mechanical parts for this upcoming job so I can sleep at night. So I'm looking for something in that elusive >$500 - <$3k range, essentially a +8MP webcam that can do reasonable colour night shooting, has a solar panel and the ability to login remotely to check it's still hunky dory. The closest I've found is this, but it's no good for night time:

Wed Mar 02, 2016 3:34 pm

Joined: Tue Jan 11, 2011 8:12 pm
Posts: 121
Post Re: New long-term camera housing and system - Cyclapse
I 100% agree that there is a potential mid-low end market. The problem has always been the availability of an appropriate camera model. The market isn't large enough to justify building a custom camera module, with requisite lenses, so you have to find just the right existing camera.

There are loads of lower end camera modules, as used on the existing trail / garden / game / construction systems. The problem is image quality… or rather the lack thereof.

Step up some in image sensor size and image quality and we find the action cameras. Better, but they are already tightly designed for a specific use, making them difficult to integrate into a time-lapse system… plenty of people have tried and perhaps someday there will be modules available that make sense… I haven't looked closely at the new breed of low cost cameras from Asia, but this could be a good direction for someone to head. The sensors are optimized for video however, so noise levels may be a problem.

Smartphones are another obvious choice. Image quality seems to be surprisingly good, given the tiny sensor size. Having huge amounts of money to throw into development in the smartphone market certainly helps fight back against physics. Given that they already include WiFi, cellular, USB, power management, etc., one would be silly to ignore them (and you can be assured no-one is ignoring them).

DSLR cameras still have some great advantages. They yield superior images to all of the above camera types. The large lens area makes them practically immune to dust build-up. Imagine a speck of dirt on a construction site sticking to the window in front of a cell-phone lens, compared to an SLR lens.

Mirrorless cameras tend to be in a class by themselves. They look great on the surface, but when you start working with them, there are lots of quirks that make them difficult to use in a long term time-lapse application. Many of the formats use electronic focus and zoom mechanisms, so if the power drops out, or in some cases even if the camera goes into sleep state, the focus and zoom are lost… even in manual mode. The mirrorless cameras are currently more expensive than the entry DSLR cameras, so that's not helpful either.

We have recently been working with the Sony A7RII, and after playing with some lenses, housing mounts, and custom cables, I think we may finally have a good solution for high-image count, high image quality applications. This camera is rated for 500K shots to start, and in silent mode there is no mechanical actuation at all. Of course it's also quite expensive, so this is not pertinent to this discussion!

My big concern for all cameras beyond the DSLR is the possibility of sensor-burn, given that there is no mechanical shutter on the mirrorless, smartphones, action cams, or bare sensor modules. Having the sun pass through the scene day after day makes me wonder how a sensor will hold up.

I think eventually more smartphone based systems will emerge to fill in the middle-low end market. Perhaps there will be a Harbortronics model in there someday.

Wed Mar 02, 2016 4:25 pm
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