Creating hypnotizing time-lapse photos has never been easier thanks to advancements in camera technology. More memory, stronger battery and built-in intervalometers allow virtually anyone with patience to participate in the “set and snap” approach to shooting. Read on to find out how to take advantage of this camera setting and deliver time-lapse clips that will win over your audience and followers on social media.
Time-Lapse Gear 101
In order to capture stable, fluid shots, you need the right gear. In addition to a camera with a built-in intervalometer, you’ll need a tripod. Even if you have steady hands, it’s still better to rely on a stand for consistency. A large memory card is also required because you’ll be taking a lot of shots. Running out of memory in the middle of the process would completely throw off your timing and leave you with an incomplete image. When setting up outdoors, it’s recommended to stay away from flickering light sources. Again, consistency is key here so you don’t want unnatural external factors affecting the photo session.
According to Ian Norman from Lonely Speck, below is a short list of time-lapse capable cameras with built-in intervalometers:
- Nikon: D5500, D600, D610, D700, D7000, D7100, D7200, D750, D800, D800E, D810, D810A
- Canon: 7D- Mark II, 1100D, 500D, 50D, 550D, 5DS/R, 5D Mark II, 5D Mark III, 600D, 60D, 650D, 6D, 700D, 7D, EOS M
- Leica: Q (Type 116)
- Pentax: K-3, K-3 II, K-5, K-5 II, K-5 IIs, K-7, K-50, K-30, K-01, K-r, K-500, 645D, 645Z
- Olympus: OM-D E-M1, E-M5 II, E-M10, E-P5
- Samsung: NX1, NX500
- Panasonic: DMC-GH4, DMC-GH3, DMC-GX8, DMC-GM1, DMC-GM5, DMC-G7
- Fuji: X-T1, X-T10, X100T, X-E2
- Sony: NEX-5R/5T, a5000, a5100, a6000, a7, a7II, a7R, a7RII, a7S, RX1, RX1R, RX100M3, RX100M4
Setting Up the Shot
Now that you’re done choosing your gear, it’s time to set up your camera settings. Your main objective is to keep the frame-to-frame exposure smooth, which can be difficult on manual mode. Luckily, there are some measures you can take to streamline this buttery effect. Setting a slower shutter speed of about 1/100th seconds or slower should do the trick. If you’re shooting under bright, daytime conditions, try applying an ND filter to reduce the risk of over-exposure. To minimize noisy elements, use a low ISO setting.
In most cases, you won’t be blessed with favorable lighting. This holds especially true for day-to-night scenes and vice versa. Setting your Aperture Priority on after plugging in your preferences above may help smooth out the shots during frame-to-frame transitions. Turning this mode on keeps your aperture and ISO consistent while slowing down the shutter speed (as the conditions change).
Once you have the basics down, you can start playing with the other settings to personalize your shot. You could set the length of the session by taking the total number of shots and dividing it by 30. So if you take 3,000 images, you’ll end up with a 100-second time-lapse clip. Best practices for setting interval times include taking buffer sessions into consideration. Ideally, you should also set your interval time longer than the slowest shutter speed being applied to the shot.
The last aspect of creating time-lapse photos is compiling. Most cameras will automatically do this for you in an exportable file type that you can share instantly. On the other hand, you could also manually chop and stitch the shots yourself using editing software. For extremely cautious photographers, the second option is the way to go. But if you’re just testing settings, the first should suffice until you’re ready to take something more concrete.