Tutorial: Power Consumption for Time Lapse with Motion Control

Complicated time lapse camera moves require a lot of power. Camera batteries, motion controllers, tablets/computers, and motors all require power and when you’re not connected to an AC outlet this requires a battery that can handle the load. My setup uses:

    Canon 5D Mark 2
    MacBook Pro 13″

Dynamic Perception Zero with NMX Motion Controller

    iPhone 6

gear for timelapse photography, power consumption for time lapse

When I’m out in the field shooting a 3-axis time lapse, my iPhone 6 runs the NMX controller software which sends signals to three motors on my setup to manage the slide/pan/tilt of the camera. These three motors require a lot of juice to move the camera in a precise controlled motion. This setup will consume approximately 1050mA at 12V or about 12.6 Watts. The 5D lasts about 1,000 shorts or 8ish hours depending on the temperature which translates to about 1.75 Watts (the 5D battery is 14 Watt hours). The iPhone lasts a long time as I am able to shut down the NMX app after its set up. The app runs autonomously.

Long exposures (e.g. 30 seconds for not shots) a lit LCD screen increase power consumption and reduce battery life.

timelapse rig setup, power consumption for time lapse

For long time lapse moves I use the V72 laptop battery (72 Watt hours) to power the motors and also keep my phone juiced up. Being the workhorse that the V72 is I also use it to power my Macbook for when I need extra power. It allows me to transfer and backup my shots or to give me extra time when shooting day to night time lapse shots, which I control on my Macbook through qDslrDashboard.

For extended trips, I keep my V72 battery topped off by linking two 17 watt solar panels to the battery. This allows me to always have power to control my shots and not worry if my batteries will die during long days out shooting.

v72 powering timelapse, power consumption for time lapse

About Derrick:
Derrick Lytle is a Utah-based photographer and filmmaker who specializes in time lapse. He is an ambassador for Mountainsmith and can be found running through the mountains and deserts of the Western United States.

Follow Derrick on Instagram.

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