Time-lapse movies are cool. Especially when they are really professional looking. Some of my favourite time-lapse movies are made by these people:
YouTube. Perhaps not in the same league as those guys, but it's still fun and rewarding anyway.
I hope to do a lot more, and have recently learnt some new techniques to maximise battery life and minimise wear on the camera.
On a SLR camera, every photo causes the mirror to flip up, the shutter opens and closes, then the mirror flips back down. Being moving components, the mirror and shutter have a finite lifetime. During a time-lapse you may be taking thousands of photos, therefore reducing the life expectancy of your camera.
These techniques can be used with the Canon 7D and 5D mk II cameras (and possibly others) to reduce mirror and shutter activations.
Live View mode eliminates the mirror flapping since the viewfinder is disabled. Unfortunately as I found out here, under normal Live View operation (Silent shooting Mode 1) the shutter is activated twice for every photo. If you select Silent shooting Mode 2, then a sensor reset is used instead of a first-curtain shutter meaning that only a single shutter activation occurs. Eliminating mirror flapping not only extends the life of the mirror mechanism, but also saves on battery power consumption.
Using Live View in itself does use more power because the LCD is lit between each photo. Here is a technique to turn off the LCD, simply connect the supplied A/V cable to the AV Out/Digital socket (the weird USB socket) on the side of the camera. This will trick the camera into thinking you're using an external monitor instead of the LCD monitor and switch it (permanently) off. Note using a HDMI cable doesn't work.
The battery life is (apparently) very long when the camera is used in this manner. But, I'm yet to try it.
For every photo, the camera will also switch the aperture between two positions (except if you are using your lens wide open). Surprisingly, people report success by half unscrewing their lens which results in the aperture staying in the desired position. Instead, a better solution is to operate in Movie mode instead of traditional Live View. This might result in a longer aperture life and/or some power saving. The real gain from this technique though is to reduce flicker in the time-lapse image sequence. Flicker can occur where the aperture does not open to the exact same position every time.
I hope these techniques work for you. Please post links to your time-lapse movies.
Read about other things I've learnt here.