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- 1 What To Look For In a Time-Lapse Camera
- 2 Best Time-Lapse Cameras for Beginners
- 3 Best Cameras for Time-Lapse for Advanced photographers and Time lapse photography
- 4 Bonus: Best Night Sky Time-Lapse Photography Cameras
- 5 Best Time Lapse Camera Must Have Features
- 6 Is a GoPro good for time lapses?
- 7 To Conclude
What are the best cameras for time-lapse?
Whether you’re just beginning to explore the art of time lapse photography or you are a seasoned professional looking to make a commitment, you’re likely asking yourself the same question; What are the best time lapse photography cameras I can buy for the money?
First of all, if you’re already set on getting a compact camera for time lapse, then we have a dedicated guide to compact cameras just for you. If you’re not at that stage yet, then read on.
We’ve got you covered.
Below, we’ll take a look at some of the best beginner and advanced time lapse camera bodies you can buy for this style of photography, ranking each of them in terms of their:
- Image quality,
- And price.
Before that, though, let’s briefly zero in on what to look out for in the best time lapse cameras.
What To Look For In a Time-Lapse Camera
In general, when searching for the best time-lapse cameras, the main features to focus on are:
- The ability to capture high-resolution images in RAW format,
- Low-light performance, and
- Lens selection.
Of course, there are various types of time-lapse photography out there, and what you need will depend on what you’re looking to accomplish.
For instance, if you’re set on shooting low light such as astrophotography time-lapses of the night sky, you’ll need to really invest in a camera that produces incredible images in almost complete darkness.
That said, if you’re only interested in shooting time-lapses in the day time on the streets of New York, this obviously isn’t as much of a concern.
Regardless of what you’re looking to do, you’ll also need some basic gear, such as:
- A Tripod,
- A high-capacity SD card or two,
- And an Intervalometer.
For a more detailed breakdown of the gear essentials, you’ll need, check out our beginner’s guide to time-lapse photography.
Best Time-Lapse Cameras for Beginners
If you’re just starting out, the world of time-lapse photography can often feel a bit overwhelming.
With so many different options out there to choose from, it can make your head spin, but don’t worry.
The truth is, even your iPhone or Android can be some of the best cameras for time lapse and are a great place to start, so don’t overthink this too much.
That said, here are our picks for the best beginner time-lapse camera bodies in 2023:
The Nikon D5600 is a great DSLR camera for those who want to get into the world of time lapse photography.
It has an excellent image sensor, good low light performance and is very reasonably priced.
It’s built-in intervalometer makes shooting time lapses easy and hassle-free.
The Nikon D5600 also comes with a standard lens mount that allows you to switch lenses and capture different types of shots.
The Canon EOS M100 is a great entry-level mirrorless camera for time lapse photography.
It has an excellent image sensor, good low light performance and comes with a nice range of lenses.
The autofocus system on this camera is fast and reliable, making it ideal for shooting time lapse sequences.
It also has a flip-out touchscreen display that makes controlling the camera easier than ever before.
In addition, the Canon EOS M100 comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can share your time lapse videos online quickly and easily.
This is one of the best cameras for time lapse and it is an absolute joy to use, as Canon really knows how to cater to the beginner market at this point with intuitive control systems.
Sony has long been an underdog when it comes to dedicated mirrorless and DSLR cameras, but all that has changed over the last few years.
The company’s a-Series of mirrorless bodies has exploded in popularity, mainly due to their uncompromising performance stuffed into tiny, compact shells.
The Sony Alpha A6300 is a great entry level camera with an excellent image sensor, good low light performance, and a very reasonable price tag.
It has 4K video capabilities and comes with a standard E-mount lens option which makes it easy to switch lenses for different types of shots.
The autofocus system on this camera is fast and reliable, making it ideal for shooting time lapse photography.
If you’re looking to get something small and light enough for frequent travel without breaking the bank, Sony might be for you.
Best Cameras for Time-Lapse for Advanced photographers and Time lapse photography
If you’re ready to step up to the big leagues, these camera’s will get you there and take your timelapse videos to the next level.
Featuring some of the absolute best image quality in the consumer industry, each of these DSLR and mirrorless systems has proven to be well worth the cost of entry.
Here are some of the best time lapse cameras of 2023:
The Sony a7R III is without a doubt one of the best time lapse cameras for advanced time lapse photography.
It has an excellent image sensor, good low light performance and comes with a range of lenses that makes it easy to switch between different types of shots.
With a massive lens selection to choose from (when using several first-party adaptors), this is truly a platform worth investing in if you’re looking for the best of the best in the palm of your hand.
Plus, it has an awesome autofocus system which makes shooting time lapses a breeze.
The Sony a7R III even has a full-frame sensor that allows you to capture stunning 4K video footage. It comes with Wi-Fi connectivity to easily share your time lapse videos online.
And also features a massive 42.4-megapixel full-frame sensor and up to 10 frames per second shooting speeds.
The Sony a7rIII is an absolute powerhouse, regardless of what type of photography you are looking to do.
The Canon 5D MkIV is a great DSLR camera for those who want to get into the world of advanced time lapse photography.
It has a fantastic image sensor, good low light performance and comes with an array of lenses that won’t let you down. Plus, it offers 4K video capabilities and its autofocus system makes shooting time lapses easy and hassle-free.
The Canon 5D Mk IV also comes with Wi-Fi connectivity, so you can easily share your time lapse videos online.
And to top it all off, this camera has a rugged build quality and is weather-sealed for extra protection against the elements.
Canon’s 5D series of full-frame camera bodies have long been considered to be the workhorses of the professional photography industry.
With years of field-tested experience to draw on the new Mkiii version of this storied system is the most elegant and powerful solution yet, featuring a 30.4 megapixel sensor, 6 frames per second shooting, and an ISO range that expands up to 102,400.
The Nikon d850 is a feat of modern engineering.
It includes 45.7 megapixels worth of stunning image-capturing potential, 9 FPS continuous shooting, and an in-camera time lapse system capable of shooting natively in 4K resolutions.
The d850 also includes Wi-Fi functionality, a rugged build quality, and dust & moisture resistance so you can be sure your investment will last.
For those looking for the absolute best in time lapse imaging, it doesn’t get much better than this.
Need we say more? This thing comes at a pretty penny, but if you’re looking to craft some of the sharpest, cleanest time lapse videos out there, it may be worth the steep asking price.
Bonus: Best Night Sky Time-Lapse Photography Cameras
If you want to take things to the next level with your time-lapse photography, then night sky astrophotography is the big league.
In order to get the sharpest, brightest, clearest shots of the dim night sky, you really have to invest in the right gear and the right timelapse camera.
To zero in on the best cameras for shooting time lapse in low-light, we’ve got you covered.
When it first debuted, the original Sony a7s wowed consumers and critics alike with its almost paranormal ability to see in the dark.
Now, the a7sii is outdoing itself once again, providing a stunning ISO range of up to 4,096,004 (4 million!).
The 12.2 megapixel sensor uses a smaller amount of larger-sized pixels to help reduce noise, and in our experience, very few cameras at its price range can match the a7sii’s capabilities when the light is low.
The Sony a7sii is also tiny and lightweight, so it’s perfect for packing up and taking on the road with you.
It has 4K video capabilities, Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity, and its autofocus system does an excellent job of locking onto stars even in pitch darkness.
If you’re looking for a killer night sky time lapse camera, then the Sony a7sii is your best bet.
The Nikon D500 is a happy medium between affordable price and performance grade. It boast a great range of features along with a decent 20.2 megapixels.
If you currently own a more entry level DSLR camera and you’re looking to take your time lapse video to the next level, then the D500 is a great candidate.
The D500 has an impressive ISO range of up to 1,640,000 and can get you some amazing shots in low light situations.
It also comes with 4K video capabilities, Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity for easy sharing, and a host of other features that make this camera a great choice for taking your time lapse photography to the stars.
No matter whether you’re just getting your feet wet with astrophotography or you’re a veteran of the night sky, the Nikon D500 will not disappoint.
Lastly, we didn’t want to exclude budget shoppers looking for some serious low-light performance, and apparently, neither did Nikon.
Despite its modest asking price, the D7500 was designed from the ground up with low-light performance in mind, featuring a maximum ISO of 102,400.
That’s higher than any other crop sensor camera on the market, and though it won’t be able to compete with the gargantuan D5, it is also a fraction of the cost.
The D7500 also features a 20.9 megapixel sensor, 4K video capabilities, Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity, and the reliable Nikon autofocus system to make sure you nail each shot.
For those who want to get started with time lapse astrophotography on a budget without sacrificing performance, the Nikon D7500 is an excellent choice.
Best Time Lapse Camera Must Have Features
When it comes to time lapse photography, the most important factor is always going to be low light performance.
Having a camera body with a high ISO range will allow you to capture more light in low light situations, and help ensure that your time lapse video is as clear and detailed as possible.
Here is a list of features to look for when looking for the ideal time lapse camera:
Good ISO Range
Look for a camera with a good ISO range so you can capture clear shots without too much noise in low light situations (i.e., night skies).
Since many stars can be difficult to focus on, find a camera with an effective autofocus system that will follow the stars and ensure you get sharp images.
Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity
Make sure your camera has Wi-Fi & NFC connectivity so you can easily share your videos online.
Must have Excellent Image quality
You’ll want to make sure that your camera has 4K or higher image quality capabilities, as this will help you capture the sharpest and most detailed images possible.
Image quality is essential for time lapse photography, so be sure to invest in a good lens as well.
A wide angle or ultra-wide angle lens will ensure that your photos are crisp and clear, even at night.
High quality lenses can be expensive, but it’s an investment worth making if you want the best results possible.
Long Battery Life
One of the most important factors to consider when looking for a time lapse camera is battery life.
Make sure you invest in a camera that has long enough battery life to last through your shoot, or else you may find your time lapse photos coming out blurry and distorted due to the camera shutting off before it can capture all of the images needed.
Also, make sure you have extra batteries on hand in case you need to shoot for a long period of time or you’re out in the wild and don’t have access to an outlet.
Make sure your camera has an adjustable shutter speed.
You’ll need to be able to adjust the shutter speed in order to properly capture a time lapse sequence.
A good rule of thumb is to set the shutter speed at 1/30th second for a smooth and consistent flow, but you can also experiment with different settings to see which looks best.
Finally, don’t forget to check for weather sealing and a rugged build quality. After all, you never know what Mother Nature will throw at you when shooting time lapse outdoors!
By making sure your time lapse camera has these features, you’ll be able to capture the sharpest images and create the most captivating time lapse videos possible.
Is a GoPro good for time lapses?
Yes, a GoPro can be used for time lapse photography.
GoPro’s have the benefit of being rugged, lightweight, and waterproof – so they are perfect for taking on the go or in more challenging environments.
However, since Go Pros tend to lack advanced features like RAW shooting (which provides much clearer images), their low light performance is often sub-par.
Their 4K video capabilities are also limited, so they won’t quite be able to capture the level of detail that a dedicated time lapse camera can.
That said, if you’re on a tight budget or your photographic needs don’t require super high quality time lapse photos/video, then a GoPro could still be a great option for time lapse photography.
You just won’t be able to get quite as much out of it in terms of image quality or low light performance as you would from a dedicated time lapse camera.
So there you have it the some of the best cameras for time lapse.
Any one of the cameras on this list should be capable of taking professional level HD time-lapse images, regardless of the price.
Generally speaking, you get what you pay for, so get the most powerful, capable camera body that your budget can afford.