Suitability for project?

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Discussions on RICOH THETA shooting techniques, spherical images or self-made apps on, introduction of attachments, etc.

Suitability for project?

Postby NickDawes » 14 May 2019, 11:30

Hey guys,

I've stumbled upon the THETA camera this morning and would like to ask the community a few questions regarding the suitability of the device for a project I'm working on at the moment. It may be that all the answers are available within the documentation etc, but I'm hoping to have a general discussion with people experienced with the gear- so I hope you don't mind too much that I post here :)

I live in Iceland, and last winter I ran a Canon DSLR inside a Pelican Case connected to a Pi from my back garden. A Python script grabbed a picture every 5th minute, checked for the presence of the northern lights and if present, an alert would be pushed out to my phone- along with a copy of the image. Picture at the bottom of post for those interested.

There were a number of issues with the setup, so I've been looking into alternatives. Here are a few of the main issues:

- Canon DSLR/gphoto2 combination could be temperamental, and felt more like hacking than a truly reliable manufacturer supported software solution. The biggest issue would be if the script ran into a problem and hung, the DSLR would sleep automatically after 30 minutes of idling (cannot be disabled.) The only way to then wake the camera would be to manually press the shutter.
- With the intention of capturing as much sky as possible in a single image, a 360 setup seems ideal. Current setup uses an ultra wide angle on a full frame and a funky dome protruding from the case to allow the lens to be positioned externally, which is an expensive setup and allows for approx 170 degree FOV.
- External power for the DSLR is possible via a proprietary adapter, which had to be imported (takes a few weeks).

Aside from these issues, there is the housing of the gear itself, which is a problem that applies to any device. The Pelican Case seemed logical, as it's reliably weatherproof, however there are a few issues. If anyone has any advice based on experience in this area, I'd love to have a discussion.

What I'm interested to know is:

- If you would recommend a THETA for a project like this, which model?
- Image quality is not paramount, as the image mainly serves as a trigger for an alert.
- Video is not required.
- Manual shutter speed/ISO control is essential.
- The ability to handle both data transfer and external power is also essential- is this possible with a THETA? Some devices offer a 'one or the other' arrangement via USB. There may be a limitation here as the Pi can only provide 800-1000mA output.
- It may be early to tell, but what is the consensus regarding lifespan/reliability of hardware etc, assuming optimal conditions (operating temps, humidity etc) and heavy usage?

Happy to elaborate on any points, and thanks in advance for any suggestions.

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Joined: 14 May 2019, 10:24

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