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Timelapse Photography as a Hobby for Those with Autism

Photographer with camera

Although individuals with autism often have hobbies typical for their age group, they can also be drawn to more procedural, ‘making’ type activities. Time-lapse photography can serve these types of interests either as an augment or as a core activity. If you are looking for hobbies for yourself or someone else, here are some ideas that time-lapse could enhance.

Legos with time-lapse

Legos are a common interest for those with autism. The building elements and step-by-step instructions allow for the progressive development of a more grandiose product. This progress can be beautifully shown through time-lapse and can be enjoyed long after the particular set has been taken down. Not only will a time-lapse photo capture the final product, but also the journey to get there.

Making with time-lapse

Many individuals with autism are quite good at dissembling and/or building contraptions or other objects ranging from simple electronics to smaller engines. This may lead to the creation of new devices with varying capabilities such as prototypes that may work at lifting or moving and can serve as a learning or teaching tool. Time-lapse particularly serves this as it will give the opportunity to not only show the progress of a project, but it can also document the steps one has taken to disassemble an item or build one. This would not only provide a beautiful example of the tasks achieved but also provide an archive of the steps – or instructions – for future work or replication.
Jigsaw puzzle

Puzzle-solving with time-lapse

Another popular hobby among those with autism is puzzle-solving. This includes, most obviously, jigsaws, but could be any type of puzzle. It is a popular hobby common among non-verbal autistics, as well, and can be enjoyed in solo or group settings. Just as time-lapse will serve building legos and other contraptions, it will also show the steps and progress made on a puzzle in a much-accelerated timeframe. This will serve to document the work and accomplishment of the puzzle completion, long after the puzzle has been dismantled once more.

Raising and caring for animals with time-lapse

Not every individual in the spectrum loves animals, but for those that do have an affection are usually passionate. If caring for an infant or young, the hobby could be enhanced by captures that show the growth of the animal at an accelerated rate. This may come with some logistic hurdles, however, as posing the pet could be difficult, so this would serve some more easily photographed animals such as turtles or reptiles.

“…the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building”

Botany or growing indoor plants and time-lapse

A good amount of research suggests that plant cultivation is a fulfilling hobby for those with autism. Tending to a garden gives the opportunity to impart nurturing skills along with the satisfaction of visible results. These results – the growing of the plant – lend themselves well to the use of time-lapse photography. Not only will an indoor plant or garden offer the individual to explore their interests in the selection of the plants themselves, the resulting adult plant and the time-lapse documenting the progress will be enriching and confidence-building.
Person hiking in countryside

Hiking or camping as an opportunity for time-lapse

Individuals with autism may have high energy, and many enjoy the outdoors. Hiking or camping is an opportunity for a person to explore the outside world while getting exercise. These outdoor experiences provide an excellent opportunity to capture a time-lapse sequence. Whether it’s a couple hour excursion or a several night camping trip, a location can be actively sought, and once found, a time-lapse can show the changing clouds, light, or other features of the outdoors, including star cover at night for night sky time-lapse photography.

Drawing and painting revealed with time-lapse

Drawing and painting are also pastimes autistic individuals frequently enjoy. If coupled with time-lapse, the entire process can be accelerated to showcase the labor of the art. Each stroke and step will progress quickly in the resulting video, giving way to the final product with all of the splendor of the labor that created it.

Sculpture and time-lapse

Similar to these other examples, sculpture – with clay or any medium really – can be a hobby which is enhanced by the shooting of time-lapse. The sculpture will seem to build from nothing, with each step of the process visible throughout the time-lapse. This could also apply to things like carving and whittling. Again, you will see your or your loved one’s work in all of its glory compose itself before your eyes in the final time-lapse video.
Compact Camera

Photography and time-lapse

Photography and time-lapse can be a hobby in itself. Starting with developing a mastery of photography, anyone with an interest can capture it with their camera. An enthusiast or professional camera really is where you should be starting. Enthusiast cameras are usually fully featured, bodies with a metal skeleton are a good place to start and better models will even include weather-sealing. If you decide on a professional camera, they will all be built well. These cameras will have removable lenses and will work with remote shutters and intervalometers (if they are not included in the firmware), allowing the user to capture what they want in the way they want to capture it.

“The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art”

Eventually, as an individual masters still photography and settles on a subject, they might advance further to produces time-lapses – perhaps, but not necessarily related to other hobbies. The ability to shoot time-lapse will enrich any other activity that involves the progressive building or production of a piece of art, or the growth of something. It can also be used to witness natural phenomena at accelerated rates. The hobby will encourage not only a mastery of still photography but also will lend itself to learning a whole host of creative programs in order to develop the final product. Those that are autistic are typically pretty intuitive on computer programs, and will likely be able to learn the programs associated with digital negative development and the composition of the final time-lapse. So one hobby can provide the individual with many skills.

Beginning your time-lapse journey

If you would like to learn more about time-lapse or you know someone else who might, a great starting point is our beginner’s guide to time-lapse where we introduce the basic concepts and give you the tools you’ll need to take it further.

Some other resources

LRtimelapse Review

Photo editing software

If you are considering using LRTimelapse software but you’re unsure if it’s the right tool for the job, then our detailed LRTimelapse review should help make up your mind.

There are a number of time-lapse software options available, LRTimelapse is just one, but it’s one of the most fully-featured and powerful applications out there.

LRTimelapse is likely the most capable and effective tool available for serious time-lapse photographers. It could also be effectively utilized for some stop-motion work. It harnesses the effective RAW processing of Adobe Lightroom to define keyframes within the sequence of images and will subsequently apply those adjustments to successive images, and it will even transition between them. It does allow manipulation of white balance, brightness – apparently anything available in Lightroom – however, LRTimelapse itself is not as user-friendly by any means, but adjustments in Lightroom can be easily utilized in LRTimelapse. It features a de-flicker feature which is remarkable and incredibly useful if you’re trying to reduce flicker in time-lapse. It also features functions geared specifically to photographers using the “holy grail” protocol available from the same software engineer, Gunther Wegner.

LR Timelapse is a hybrid of a plug-in and a standalone program. I appreciate this, as you can make adjustments within the program, however, it doesn’t try to replicate the efficiency and robust features of Lightroom. Lightroom does what it does best, and the modifications in the metadata can be loaded into LRTimelapse and vice-versa; you can load the modifications you have made in LRTimelapse into Lightroom as well by going into “metadata” and “read metadata from files”. To load updates from Lightroom in LRTimelapse, make sure to “reload” in LRTimelapse to apply the metadata changes after you have saved the metadata to files. For example, you may run a de-flicker at some point, but then realize that after the brightness issues have been resolved, you have a white-balance issue, which is more easily taken care of in Lightroom. In this situation, you would load the metadata from LRTimelapse in Lightroom, adjust the white balance in Lightroom, save the metadata to the file(s), then go back into LRTimelapse and reload to preview and continue editing your timelapse.

Although LRTimelapse has the ability to modify the white-balance and other elements such as brightness, sharpness, whatever, I found it does not live-update, so if you are trying to make a modest, visual adjustment, Lightroom is far superior. In fact, unless it’s a holy grail sequence or de-flicker, you should be primarily editing in Lightroom and then going from there. I think that is the opinion of the creator as well, as LRTimelapse leaves most things to Lightroom that Lightroom does superbly, and simply facilitates their transition between frames. It is similar to batch processing in some ways, but it is much more than that – the ability to allow the adjustments of one keyframe in the timelapse to be applied and transitioned to the next keyframe in full resolution using Lightroom is a hallmark feature.

LRTimelapse also allows you to sample a specific region to determine the flicker adjustments – so if you have changing lighting due to clouds or whatever, you may select a region in the photographs which are not affected by the cloud cover in order to de-flicker based on that sample area. If that area were to become undesirable as a sample region at some point in the time-lapse, you could change the region using keyframes. You can keyframe this area to animate a transition between these regions.

I also would like to point out that, although the GUI has “auto-transition”, which is most often the choice you will make, there is another option which is “individual transitions” under “transitions” which will allow you to determine which transitions you want to animate and how. You can define the curve, and select which transition it is applied to. This is helpful, especially if you have a highly imperfect time-lapse, or are looking for a certain aesthetic element.

There are a lot of things to like about this program. It is what you ought to be using if you are shooting time-lapse, pure and simple. It could also do wonders if you are shooting stop-motion and have flicker in sequences or would like to apply transitioned adjustments to the sequence.

As for the bad, I would say the most disappointing thing is there is no simple “undo”. This is highly desired in any program which has an aesthetic element to it and is something I would highly recommend in future versions. It also doesn’t allow you to simply create new folders from the import option, so you will want to create the folder outside of LRTimelapse and then populate it using the import option. Not ideal.

I like that the sequence can essentially be dragged into Lightroom – This is very nice. You ought to be using Lightroom Classic as simple Lightroom CC does not apparently support the plug-in. The export option is quite convenient, however, it would be nice to have a preview of the final product in case one is trying to determine the desired speed – that said, LRTimelapse does offer speed options, including 1,2,4 and 8 times slower or faster, which is nice. You can select framerates from 24p-30p, including 29.97 and 23.97 for NTSC. This is nice, but I would almost like to see other options such as 12fps and 60fps. You can manipulate this using the speed+framerate (30fps + 2x “faster”=60fps)…

In conclusion, this is a premium timelapse solution. Gunther Wegner, although sounding like a mixture between a physics professor and an action hero in his tutorials, is an authority on timelapse science and practice and the program is the best available. If you have issues, the aforementioned tutorials are available on the website and feature the developer himself. They are quite informative and a quality resource if you are planning to use this program.

In terms of LRTimelapse’s utility, I have to say, although you can do much of these things in Photoshop or Lightroom, you really can’t. Although there are competing software options out there, if you are serious about timelapse, or do it professionally, there really aren’t. This is the only software I have found with the ability to keyframe, transition and deflicker at an effective, professional level. I would suggest using the Pro version as the export options are superior, however, if you are not a professional or a habitual pixel-peeper, the private license is certainly more powerful in many ways than anything else out there.

To find out more about LR Timelapse and to see some examples of what it can do, check out the official LRTimelapse website.

7 Time-lapse Ideas to Inspire You

Night sky timelapse tree silhouette

The key element to a stunning time-lapse is the presentation of movement that would otherwise go unnoticed or underappreciated, but with the increase in perceived time, can be observed in splendid detail and at a pace that allows the movement to be fully understood.

Thanks to the use of a sequence of still images, the resolution, color depth and dynamic range of the time-lapse can be of a higher quality that would otherwise likely be available, meaning the final video will be down-res’d to fit the dimensions of HD, or 4k (4k is roughly the equivalent of 8MP/frame), with outstanding clarity and vibrancy if carried out correctly.

If high resolution is something you really require, you could even output in some ultra-high resolution dimensions like 5K for viewing on very large media (5K is roughly 15MP), or when zooming into the final product may be desirable. Your typical time-lapse will not warrant such capability, however, if you are doing a time-lapse to capture scientific phenomena, it may be advantageous.

If you are anxious to try out time-lapse, but you haven’t a subject determined yet, here are some ideas that often result in great successes to use as inspiration. Keep in mind that exposure times can be significant – if there is motion it may serve the time-lapse to freeze it in place, however, it is often a good idea to allow some motion blur, as it will transition between frames more fluidly.

This depends on the speed of the motion versus the number of frames per second you have, and the nature of the motion as it relates to the composition of the time-lapse, but it is something you should consider when planning and executing your time-lapse.

Flowers and plants

Flowers and plants can be beautiful to behold, but their transformation from seed to adult plant is often absolutely breathtaking. If you have an indoor plant that you are about to start to grow, you can set up a camera on a mount of a tripod at the angle with which you want to capture. As you water, groom or fertilize on a regular schedule, you can incorporate taking a photograph at the same time. You aren’t going to want to allow the camera to move, so it would be best if it weren’t touched at all. Use a remote shutter and a wall outlet to keep the camera powered and the lighting is consistent.

The Sky

Whether you choose to shoot clouds sprawling across the sky, or the awesome display of stars in the night sky, the sky can provide a whole host of phenomena that will both enlighten the observer to the complexities of the atmosphere or cosmos but will also provide a beautiful spectacle. In the daytime, the movement of clouds can be quite spell-binding, and the rolling in of rain or a thunderstorm can be particularly interesting.

At night, if the sky is clear and you are in an area dark enough, the stars in the sky can provide a beautiful time-lapse as the stars move in relation to the observer due to Earth’s rotation. Our list of top astrophotography locations may give some helpful suggestions.

Sunrise or sunset

The transition from day to night or night to day can be spectacular. Often the color changes are beautiful, but can only be appreciated in a video format, but where video often fails to capture the splendour adequately and results in a video that would ideally be increased in speed, time-lapse allows you to take high-resolution, high-bitrate and high-dynamic-range images using your DSLR or mirrorless and use each image as a frame rather than dropping frames in order to speed the motion in the video.

These are called “holy-grail” sequences in time-lapse parlance. This will result in splendid views of the sun and the transition to or from nighttime that would just not be possible with most video equipment out there. I highly suggest taking such shots in a desert, on a mountain, or on a coast in order to get the full effect of the sun’s set or rise.

Other locations which might serve well include forests, city-scapes and prairie or farmland, especially those with rolling hills. If you are considering shooting a sunrise or sunset, you should look into software and techniques to help you overcome the challenges of creating a “holy grail” time-lapse.

Urban area

Show the hustle and bustle of the city street throughout the workday. Show cars and people in motion, working like the blood cells of the city. These types of time-lapse can work especially from higher vantage points, showing a grand scheme of the movement in the city. It is a good idea to get some variation, for example, sunrise to sunset, to allow for the workday to play out and the difference in traffic to reveal itself. Often the majority of traffic will walk in one direction to start a workday and the opposite when it concludes, with less dense and less directional traffic in between and the pre and post-workday lull afterwards.

There are all sorts of patterns you may find, however, and it is very interesting to see a large volume of people moving en masse. In this case, it might be wise to use relatively longer exposures to allow for some motion blur, which will soften the movement in the frames and often results in a more fluid transition from frame to frame when you have dramatic motion during the course of the time-lapse.

Tides & Seaside

Another display of nature’s wonder is the movement of the tides. Roughly every 24 hours, the tide comes fully in and out twice. It’s hard to see tides move in real-time. Some shallow beaches mike make it noticeable with the water flooding over, but generally, you can’t see much going on in terms of tidal movement.

A time-lapse video really brings life to the movement of the sea and the magnificence of just how much water moves in and out over the course of a few hours.

The movements of boats and people playing in the sea are fun subjects in time-lapse and they add a really visually interesting extra dimension.

DIY and construction

Something that utilizes the benefits of time-lapse to the highest effect is construction, DIY, or other projects that are progressively built or taken down. This includes home improvement projects and new constructions to major urban construction but is not limited to the grandiose.

Time-lapse works for any building, assembling, disassembling or similar project. The process of building something in Legos can be well translated with time-lapse. Replacing car parts, assembling a model aircraft, anything which requires stepwise procedures to achieve a greater goal can be well-served by time-lapse. Not only can time-lapse serve as a record of the accomplishment, but it can also record the steps, how to carry them out, and when. It can serve as a valuable teaching tool when applied to projects such as these, not to mention being quite visually satisfying.

Art Project

Similar to construction and assembly projects, time-lapse really stands out as an asset to capturing the labor and evolution of art projects.

Not only can the viewer (of the final time-lapse) see the steps and transformation of the work from mere materials, they can also gain an appreciation of the craft, or discover a technique, or further their comprehension of the medium itself. This is another example of an application that would serve education well, but it isn’t a necessity. The time-lapse can be a piece of art all by itself!

Time-Lapse vs Stop Motion: What’s the Difference?

Stop frame animation

They’re similar terms, but are they the same? time-lapse vs stop motion. What is the difference?
Although both time-lapse and stop-motion involve compiling a series of still images into a video or animation, they are not the same thing. The two terms do not refer to the same technique or intended outcome, yet are also not mutually exclusive. Despite being uncommon, a time-lapse could be a stop-motion as well and vice versa – Here is what I mean…

Strictly speaking, a time-lapse is a series of photographs shot chronologically from a single position and perspective, most often taken within regular intervals, to be later used as frames for a video that illustrates the passage of time at an accelerated rate.

Stop-motion is the use of still images to construct a video or animation where the time interval between each exposure is typically not relevant, rather, between each successive exposure, manipulation of the subjects or scene is made to prepare for the next shot. This is done repeatedly, and ultimately each still image is used as a frame to generate the intended outcome.

To further distinguish the two, let’s look at how each is produced and how each is used to translate a visual concept…

Typically, when someone claims to be producing a time-lapse, they are planning to shoot successive still images with the goal of showing the passage of time. Based on the subject(s) or scene, an interval between each image will be determined. The camera will be mounted on a tripod, hi-hat or some other static, secure structure or piece of equipment. Another typical piece of equipment will be an intervalometer (some cameras have this built-in), which will determine the interval between each shot.

The use of an intervalometer pretty much indicates it’s a time-lapse, however, it does not necessarily mean it is NOT a stop-motion.

Stop motion refers to the manipulation of a successive series of still images to create a video which, more often than not, is done for stylization or to achieve otherwise difficult motion effects or animation. A stop-motion will also make use of a tripod or some other form of the mounting device, but intervalometers are not common on stop-motion. What you will find more frequently are items that assist the photographer or director in determining the position of the objects in the frame, especially those that are being manipulated. For example, if you have a human subject that is moving in some way, often their orientation to the camera will change between successive shots, which is not desirable if it is not intentional. Often you will see stop-motion photographers using markers or guides – this can be achieved through assorted means – from chalk on the ground to mounted laser-pointers to indicate how a subject is meant to be oriented or positioned.

Stop motion animation of a deer running

You could shoot a ‘stop-motion’ using an intervalometer, I can imagine doing such a thing if you had a significant element of the composition which occurred at intervals, or if you wanted to have the same effect of an accelerated timeline in the background with a foreground shot in a “stop-motion” style manner. This would most often be referred to as stop motion, but again, this would almost depend on the nature of the content itself.

Stop-motion is more likely to be narrative, whereas time-lapse merely seeks to illustrate the passage of time, usually from a static perspective. Live-action stop-motion often incorporates human subjects that develop character over the course of the piece, whereas timelapse is more often exploring natural phenomena and is unlikely to develop anything like traditional characters. Stop motion is also likely to include multiple camera angles, this is less common in time-lapse.

Stop-motion can also be used to describe a means to animate inanimate objects or allow them to interact with humans. The technique is often used to animate such things in a manner which more closely parallels animation than live-action video – as a matter of fact, the phrasing “stop-motion animation” is quite common and applies to the application of stop-motion in a non-photorealistic manner.

Although timelapse typically involves set intervals of time between each shot in order to project a smooth passage of time, this is not essential for what would be commonly referred to as “timelapse” – if varying intervals between shots are used, but the presentation translates to a perceived expedited passage of time, that would be time-lapse.

In addition, if the final product appears to be a photo-realistic accelerated passage of time, the term most commonly used to describe such a production would be time-lapse. I mention this because, although most time-lapse is shot in specific intervals, and although intervalometers are a hallmark piece of equipment for time-lapse, it is not essential that identical intervals are used. Again, the cornerstone element of a timelapse is the perception of time speeding naturally, albeit more quickly, without the intentional use of the interval between captures to stage the next image – each successive image is merely observed rather than intentionally altered.

“The cornerstone element of a timelapse is the perception of time speeding naturally, albeit more quickly”

Now, there could be acting in a time-lapse. If the time between each capture is not used to manipulate with the intention of animating, and the subject(s) merely were captured in intervals, one could have a time-lapse with actors or acting. This arguably applies to some DIY videos and how-to clips. The subjects complete a task while shots are taken showing progress. These shots are not necessarily taken at fixed intervals, and the subjects will often intentionally move or position themselves to serve the composition. This parallels stop-motion, yet it ultimately is showcasing time progression in at a speedy rate – you would call this time-lapse (or, perhaps time-lapse stop-motion).

Again, Timelapse is essentially the presentation of a sequence of still images as frames in video/film to show the passage of time more quickly than in real-time. It is most often used with intervalometers but doesn’t have to be.

“Timelapse is essentially the presentation of a sequence of still images as frames in video/film to show the passage of time more quickly than in real-time”

In the case of stop-motion, the photographer or director will take advantage of the time between the capture of each successive frame to intentionally manipulate the set, setting or subject(s). You could produce a stop-motion time-lapse.

You could have elements of stop-motion in your timelapse; an example would be using stop-motion type frame progression with a quickened perceived passage of time. For example, you may wish to produce an animation that sought to incorporate a comical use of a puppet which may represent the moon – stop-motion could manipulate this moon character from frame to frame, while the intervals from frame to frame could allow the transition from day to night to occur at a quickened pace; this would literally be a stop-motion time-lapse.

The “moon” in this example would be directed and intentionally manipulated from to frame, making use of the period between each capture, while the timelapse would show the passage of time at an accelerated rate, taking advantage of the time between each capture for the benefit of increased time between each frame.

This may also be achieved using a green screen or other matte or keying effect in post-production, which would mean a stop-motion was composited and layered over a time-lapse.
Right? Right.

To summarize;

Stop-motion is more likely to be narrative, artistic, compositional, staged. Stop-motion always implies the intentional use of the time between each capture in order to stage the following frame. It is most frequently used to animate the inanimate, but the technique could be applied to virtually anything.

Timelapse is more likely to be somewhat scientific, journalistic, observational. Timelapse always implies the use of the time between each capture to allow for the perception of time moving more quickly.

Time-Lapse Intervalometer Buying Guide

Stopwatch chronograph

What is a Time-Lapse Intervalometer?

On your journey to time-lapse video stardom, you will inevitably come across the need for a time-lapse intervalometer unit, otherwise known as a time-lapse controller. This small but essential piece of kit acts as the brain for your time-lapse platform as a whole, telling your camera how frequently it should fire the shutter, amongst a host of other functions. Some cameras even include this functionality in-body, but for the most part, dedicated Intervalometers are going to offer better flexibility and functionality overall.

In this shopping guide, we’ll break down what to look for in a quality intervalometer, as well as walk you through some of our favourite products for beginners and experts alike. By the end, you should have a firm grasp on which model will work best for you.

What To Look For In a Quality Time-Lapse Intervalometer

Let’s face it; time-lapse Intervalometers are not the sexiest products out there. Because of that, it can be a bit overwhelming trying to understand what to look for in a good one. They all sort of look the same, and product descriptions are often just a jumbled mess of stats, figures, and granular features. To help cut through the noise, we thought it’d be helpful to detail what to look for when searching for the perfect Intervalometer to match your needs. Here are a few things to consider when starting your research:

Compatibility

Not all intervalometers are compatible with all camera systems. You should be used to this by now, as just about everything in the photography world is locked to a certain manufacturer or another. You’ll want to be sure that any Intervalometer unit you are looking at will work with your specific brand of camera. The good news is, many modern Intervalometers work with all of the major brands, such as Sony, Canon, and Nikon.

Features

For the most part, every Intervalometer unit that you see is going to be able to, at a bare minimum, control the frequency of your camera’s shutter actualizations using a few different interval parameters. That said, more advanced units can include things like speed ramp-ups (and ramp-downs), HDR support, mirror-up delays, and more. If you’re just getting started, it can be easy to feel as though you need all of the features, but the truth is that you really don’t. Even the most basic intervalometers are capable of producing stunning videos in the end, so it’s just a matter of growing your flexibility over time.

Build Quality

The may not be as important as, say, the build quality of your camera or tripod, but you need to remember that you’ll be using your Intervalometer out in the field, often in situations where it could quite easily take a tumble. It’s important to consider what this may mean, and focus on Intervalometers that use high-quality materials in their construction. Unfortunately, like with most things, there’s a bit of “you get what you pay for” at play here, but there is still a lot of value to be had with some of the higher-quality entry-level Intervalometers out there. You just have to know where to find them (hint hint, keep reading below).

Types of Time-Lapse Intervalometers

There are several specific categories of intervalometers on the market today. Let’s take a look at each of them, breaking down their unique strengths, as well as any potential limitations.

Off-Brands

Off-brand Intervalometers have been around for years and years, like with just about any other industry. These Intervalometers are often made for specific manufacturers, but there are several that will work with most of the major brands. Best of all, these are usually quite a bit cheaper than the name brand variety, and many of them include much of the same functionality and quality to boot.

Our Off-Brand Suggestions:

[amazon text=For Nikon: Remote Wireless Intervalometer&asin=B07TLN64Q6]

Works with: D90 D600 D610 D3100 D3200 D3300 D5000 D5100 D5200 D5300 D7000 Digital SLR Cameras

[amazon text=For Canon: Neewer LCD Timer Shutter Release Remote Control&asin=B016W3KFA8]

Works with: EOS 30, 33, 50E, 300, 300V, 3000, 50, 300D (Digital Rebel), 350D (Digital Rebel XT), 400D (Digital Rebel XTi), 450D (Digital Rebel XSi), 500D, 1000D

[amazon text=For Sony: Pholsy N10 Wired/Wireless Intervalometer&asin=B01N133BI6]

Works with: a7RII/ILCE-7RM2 a7II/ILCE-7M2K a7SII/ILCE-7SM2 a7R/ILCE-7R a7/ILCE-7 a7s/ILCE-7S a6000/ILCE-6000L a3000/ILCE-3000 a58/SLT-A58 NEX-3NL DSC-RX100M3 DSC-RX100M4 DSC-RX10M3

Name Brands

Name brand intervalometers are going to cost you a bit more than the off-brand ones above, but if you’re willing to invest in something for the long haul, they can provide some amazing value overall. On the whole, these will be more compatible with one major camera manufacturer and will be fully tailored to that specific system. As such, you will often find that they simply work better than their off-branded brethren, but this isn’t a strict rule.

Our Name-Brand Suggestions:

[amazon text=For Nikon: 2.4GHz Wireless Shutter Release&asin=B076H46W5S]

Works with: Nikon D4, D800, D700, D300

[amazon text=For Canon: Pholsy Remote Intervalometer&asin=B01MTC2IAH]

Works with: EOS 10D, 20D, 30D, 40D, 50D, 7D, 6D, 5D, 1D, 1Ds, D30, D60, 1V & 3 SLR Cameras

Advanced Units

For those who are looking to push the envelope, there are a number of more advanced, experimental intervalometers on the market today. These are going to cost you a pretty penny, but they are also going to include more functionality than just about any other class of Intervalometer. This commonly includes things like advanced timing settings, full HDR support for bracketing, mirror-up delay (which increases sharpness), and time-ramping functionality. That last one is key, as it’s all but a requirement to create what many believe to be one of the most challenging sequences in time-lapse photography; a day to night (or night to day) transition.

[amazon text=Our Advanced Pick: PHOLSY Wireless Timer Remote Control&asin=B01NAW947S]

Works with: Versions available for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus/Panasonic, and Fujifilm!

DIY

If there’s one corner of the internet that has consistently surprised and delighted us over the years, its the DIY community. This group of tinkerers, innovators, and people with lots of time on their hands have come up with a homebrew solution for just about everything under the sun, and as it turns out, time-lapse Intervalometer units are no exception. Here are a few of our favorite projects we’ve seen across the web:

http://www.instructables.com/id/Time-Lapse-Intervalometer-for-SLRs-with-555-timer-/
https://www.instructables.com/id/Turn-a-TI-Graphing-Calculator-into-an-Intervalomet/
http://www.hdrlabs.com/occ/index.html

2022 edit: This one recently became unavailable, will leave here in case it comes back online: http://cms.diodenring.de/en/electronic/mikroIntervalometer/82-intervalltimerv2

The bottom line:

As you can no doubt tell for yourself above, there is an abundance of options available when it comes to time-lapse Intervalometers today. Just about every camera manufacturer under the sun has multiple to choose from, and best of all, they are available at virtually every price point to boot. Put a budget together, make your choice, and get out there and get to shooting!

If you’re looking to invest is new gear, or if you’re just interested in learning more about the available hardware, check out tripod buyer’s guide. or our guide to selecting the best camera for time-lapse.

How to Shoot Time-Lapse with a Smartphone

Smart phone filming time lapse video

If you’d like to learn how to shoot time-lapse with a smartphone, this guide should serve as an introduction and answer any questions you have.
Time-lapse photography has never been more accessible than it is right now. In fact, that’s true for any form of photography, because smartphone cameras have seamlessly transitioned from “impractical novelty” to “near DSLR-level” tool in the span of about a decade. Today, the creative possibilities using just the tools available on iOS and Android devices make it possible to craft compelling, mind-bending time-lapse videos, and by the end of this article, you’ll have everything you need to do it.

First Thing First: Android or iOS?

While both Android devices and Apple’s iPhone have a variety of apps to choose from that can help create stunning time-lapse videos, iOS gets a bit of a leg up with the inclusion of a time-lapse function directly in the native camera app (some newer Android devices do as well, but not all). Of course, compared to many of the dedicated apps available on both platforms–such as the fantastic Lapse It–Apple’s own version is fairly rudimentary. All the same, it’s worth mentioning, especially if you’re just beginning to explore time-lapse work as an art form.

Regardless of which side of the smartphone arms race you fall on, there are a ton of fantastic cameras to be had on nearly all of today’s top devices. Chances are, the phone in your pocket is more than enough to get started taking some seriously compelling sequences.

Essential Mobile Time-Lapse Accessories

One of the key components that go into making quality mobile time-lapse videos is your ability to keep the phone steady for a long period of time. Many newer models have advanced stabilization software built into them which makes your life much easier, but if you’re looking to take things to the next level, here are a few handy accessories that will change your life:

Ubeesize TripodUBeesize Tripod S

The UBeesize Tripod is a mobile imaging platform that can conform and cling to almost any surface, thanks to its flexible, octopus-style legs. This thing is so good that we consider it to be a must-have for anyone who’s serious about capturing high-quality stationary time-lapse videos with their Android or iOS phone. Try attaching your phone to a guardrail above a busy city street, or to a branch on the side of a mountain overlooking the valley below. The possibilities are limited only by your creativity.

Moment Lenses

Moment has long been the de facto king of mobile lens attachments, and today, their wide range of accessories are more powerful than ever before. Options like the stunning Anamorphic lens give you unparalleled cinematic potential, while the wide angle, telephoto, and macro options unlock entirely new perspectives. If you are trying to blur the lines between what’s possible with a mobile device and what isn’t, this is where you should be looking.

Smartphone Time-Lapse Tips and Tricks

If you’re setting out to explore what your phone can really do, we want to give you every advantage you can possibly have. Here are a few tips and tricks we’ve learned and use ourselves every single day.

Don’t neglect the basics: Regardless of what devices you use to capture time-lapse videos with, it’s important to keep in mind the essentials like exposure, framing, and subject matter. Each of these represents a crucial pillar that is needed to make your shots interesting to your viewers, which is ideally what you want.

Use an older phone if you have one–or don’t: If you have an older device laying around that you don’t use anymore, turning it into a dedicated time-lapse camera may be a great way to breathe new life into it. That said, if you upgraded to a fancy new model that features an even better camera, you may be tempted to justs stick with that, and we don’t blame you.

Get creative with your framing: By nature of their size alone, you can get a smartphone into positions and spaces that a bulky DSLR simply wouldn’t be able to go. This is especially true when you couple it with something like the UBeesize Tripod listed above, so get creative and unconventional; you never know where it’ll take you.

Experiment with hyperlapse videos: You don’t have to stand still all of the time when capturing your shots. Hyperlapse videos involve camera motion, and apps like Hyperlapse for iOS and Microsoft Hyperlapse for Android make creating these surreal, ghostly sequences easier than ever before.

The Best Camera Really is The One You Have With You

Once more, be sure to check out our guide to 5 of the most essential time-lapse apps for both iPhone and Android phones. Each of these apps will allow you to have more control over the final look of your time-lapse videos, and best of all, most of them are pretty easy to pick up and get creating with them. Now that you have all of the tools you could ever need, there’s only one thing left to do; get out there and start creating!

What is Time-Lapse Photography?

Time lapse of passageway of people

So what is time-lapse photography and why should I care?

Well, if you’ve spent any amount of time on the internet at all, chances are you’ve seen some pretty amazing nature videos. Particularly, you may have been drawn to videos of beautiful landscapes where time seems to be “fast-forwarded” like an old VHS tape, often to dramatic effect. These videos utilize the technique known as time-lapse photography, and today, we’ll explore the basics of this exciting and unique visual trend that has exploded over the last 15 years. So what is time-lapse photography? Let’s start from the beginning…

How Does Time-Lapse Work?

At its core, time-lapse photography simply involves taking a series of images in sequence over an extended period of time, and then displaying them at a rapid frame rate, giving the appearance that the world (and time itself) is “lapsing” before your eyes. This often produces moody, ethereal results, giving many of these videos their trademark awe-inspiring feel. Wikipedia has a great introductory page on the subject.

Making a time-lapse video requires patience and a great amount of care. To make a three-minute-long video, for instance, you may need to capture several hours worth of footage, and this process can be a slow, painstaking labor of love. There are a number of special, purpose-built pieces of equipment often used to help photographers capture cinematic time-lapse footage, but today, even something as simple as your smartphone has the capability to produce exciting results. We’ll explore the equipment that goes into making these videos in greater depth below.

Is Time-Lapse One Word?

There are a number of ways to write it. Time-Lapse, Time Lapse or Timelapse. The most commonly used name is hyphenated (Time-Lapse) which is the way we write it, but really it seems that there is no one correct spelling.

Write it however you want, it all means the same thing!

Examples of Time-Lapse Photography in Action

There are countless examples of incredible time-lapse photography around the web, and we thought it would be a good idea to include a few of our favorites here, for reference.

NORWAY – By Morten Rustad
This incredible collection of stunning vistas showcases exactly what makes this sort of photography so special.

30 Days At Sea – By JeffHK
In one of the more unique applications of the technique, videographer JeffHK shows us what life on the open sea is like on one of the world’s largest megaships.

History of Time-Lapse Photography

The very first examples of time-lapse photography date back to Eadweard Muybridge (yes, that is how he spelled it). Muybridge was hired by the then-governor of California to prove that his racehorse had tripped several wires attached to still cameras. Though the governor was wrong and ultimately lost a bet because of it, Muybridge is often credited with creating the base technique still used today in time-lapse footage all over the world.

The first commercial use of this photographic method was by Alan Fanck, in a series of motion pictures he called Bergfilms. Over the next several decades, the technique would be applied to a number of subjects, from plant life to city development and beyond. Today, just about anyone has access to some form of time-lapse-capable equipment, making the barrier to entry lower than at any other point in history. The same can be said of photography in general, actually.

Basic Equipment Needed

The barrier to entry with time-lapse photography has been shrinking for over a decade, and though some special equipment is still required if you’re looking to get serious, it’s now possible to capture basic time-lapses on something as simple as your smartphone. Moreover, advanced gear that used to cost thousands and thousands of dollars can now be found for a fraction of that, allowing you to truly unlock your creativity in more ways than ever before.

So, here’s a list of the three basic components that we feel are essential to capturing a quality time-lapse video:

Camera

Chances are, you probably already have a decent DSLR camera if you’re reading this guide. If you don’t there’s more good news; there are literally hundreds of models variable to choose from today, all at varying price points, and all compatible with a full range of time-lapse equipment. We’d recommend something with a high ISO range, especially if you’re planning on doing any night-sky time-lapse photography.

Camera Tripod

Tripod

A quality, sturdy tripod is a foundational piece of your new time-lapse arsenal. This is how you will steady your footage and ensure that each shot is precisely framed. While many entry-level options are available, we’d recommend buying the best tripod your budget will allow, with enough weight to steady your camera even on uneven, rocky terrain, especially if you’re interested in taking time-lapse shots out in remote areas where conditions can be constantly changing.

Don’t assume that all tripods are the same and a cheap one will be suitable. A cheap tripod can wobble, which will be particularly apparent over the course of a full time-lapse sequence, ruining your footage. This is particularly important when shooting night sky (astro) time-lapse, when you have shutter speeds as slow as 30 seconds or more. With astro work, your camera has to be perfectly steagy to capture the stars as sharp as possible. There really is no margin for error. The last thing you want is to go to a remote location at midnight, sit in the cold until 3am, then it’s all for nothing because your tripod wobbled slightly in the breeze. Get the best quality tripod you can afford, you won’t regret it.

IntervalometerIntervalometer

An intervalometer acts as the beating heart to your time-lapse setup, helping you take hundreds of photos with precision timing by automating the task of triggering your shutter every x seconds. Some of these devices can be quite expensive, while other, more basic models can be found for much less. In fact, many modern cameras have much of this functionality built directly into the camera body. Regardless of which model you choose, the intervalometer plays an essential role in helping you put together a compelling time-lapse reel.

There are many other, more advanced pieces of gear that go into the art of capturing time-lapse footage, and we’ll be getting into these in much greater depth in future posts, so be sure to stick around. In the meantime, if you have any questions about time-lapse photography in general, be sure to leave a comment below, and we’ll do our best to help you out.

What Is The Best Time-Lapse Interval?

The ideal interval, or ‘frames per second’ for taking time-lapse pictures depends on the individual project. The more frequent the interval, the faster the motion will appear in the final video. To find the ideal interval, check out our time-lapse calculator.

As a rough guide, here are some example intervals:

  • People walking/crowds: 2 second interval.
  • Clouds moving across the sky: 5-10 second interval.
  • Night sky stars: 30 second interval.

The key to getting the right interval is to experiment and get a feel for different values. It’s all about artistic effect at the end of the day and telling a story. You can’t beat hands-on experience for getting the right settings.

Night Sky Time-lapse Photography Guide

Night sky star trails

We’ve compiled this night sky time-lapse photography guide to help you learn how to create the most awe-inspiring time-lapse videos there are – the night sky. Few natural phenomena can instill the same sense of wonder and awe that the night sky can. For hundreds of years, our ancestors believed that when they looked up at night they were gazing into the heavens themselves, and today, we know that the truth is even more mysterious than we could have imagined.

Our Milky Way galaxy is a sight to behold, and for several decades now, an entirely new way of observing its intricacies has been possible, thanks to advances in modern camera equipment. This style of imaging is commonly referred to as night sky photography, or astrophotography. Today, we’re going to be looking at a particular style that involves capturing the stars as they appear to move through the sky. By the end of it, you’ll know how to capture your very own night sky time-lapse sequences, much like this one below.

Excited? You should be. Let’s begin.

Intro To Night Sky Lime-Lapse

Night sky time-lapse photography involves much of the same equipment and techniques that traditional time-lapse work does. We’ve covered these extensively before, but today, we’ll be taking a much closer look at the specific skills and equipment used to capture a more challenging subject.

In general, you’re going to need a bit more specialized equipment to be truly successful at night sky photography than just about any other form of the craft. As opposed to shooting a busy city center or a sun-swept mountainside, shooting in absolute darkness will require a high-powered camera system that is capable of pulling light seemingly out of thin air. Let’s take a closer peek at everything you’ll need to capture successful night sky photography below. From there, we’ll jump into specific techniques you can use to capture the night sky sequence of a lifetime.

What You’ll Need

Unlike traditional time-lapse photography, you probably won’t have much luck using something like your iPhone for night sky work. One of the main requirements for viewing the Milky Way in all of its glory is to be somewhere with very little light pollution, which is the ambient light given off by cities and larger towns across the world.

Because of this, you’ll need an image sensor that is capable of capturing even the faintest amount of light and recreating it in vivid detail. In our opinion, because this is a more advanced time-lapse technique, we recommend making use of a full-frame camera. These allow much more light into the image sensor than point-and-shoot and crop-sensor camera bodies, and also tend to have a wider selection of high-quality lenses to choose from.

Here’s a basic list of equipment you should bring with you to your first night sky shoot:

  • Backpack: You’ll potentially need to hike out a bit in order to find the perfect spot, so it pays to have a quality pack to hold your gear, food and water.
  • Camera body: Again, we recommend a full-frame system like the Sony a7s or the Canon 5d Mkiii, but a decent crop sensor body can work if you’re just getting started. Just know that you will be somewhat limited with this setup.
  • Wide-Angle lens: Since we’re trying to capture the enormity of the night sky, a wide, open lens is necessary. The shallower the better, so we’d recommend going for a camera lense with aperature that stops down to f/2.8 or lower.
  • A sturdy tripod: Your tripod is a vital support platform for capturing your images. Withit, you’d have no way to ensure that no unwanted motion was caught in the image sequence, especially since we’ll be shooting at low shutter speeds. Don’t settle for the cheapest tripod thinking it isn’t important. The slightest bit of movement will ruin all of your hard work. Get the best tripod you can afford otherwise you will regret it, trust me.
  • An intervalometer: This device acts as a control center for your camera, dictating how frequently it captures images in sequence. Some camera systems even have a built-in intervalometer function, but for most folks, you’re better off using a standalone device.
  • A high-speed, high-capacity SD card: We’d recommend a 32-64 GB card if possible, with at least 50mb/s processing speed.
  • A large amount of patience: Night sky photography isn’t exactly a thrill-seeker’s paradise; capturing emotive and awe-inspiring images of the heavens is almost always a slow, deliberate process. That doesn’t mean it isn’t fun!

Planning Out Your Shoot

Now that you have all of your gear in-hand, it’s time to start getting a plan together for your shoot! This is an exciting step, but there are a few things to keep in mind when mapping out your next moves.

Sky Conditions

If you live in or near to a major city, such as Dallas, New York City, Los Angeles, or Seattle, we have some bad news; the immense light pollution these hubs of urban life give off make any attempt at stellar photography pretty much a no-go. Remember, we’re using highly sensitive camera settings to pull in even the faintest light source, so these areas will quickly result in blown-out, unusable photos. In order to make this work, you’re going to need to get 60-90 minutes outside of any major sign of civilization.

Beyond this, you’ll also want to account for both the weather and the phase of the moon when planning your shoot. Cloudy skies are obviously detrimental to being able to capture the stars beyond. Similarly, a big, full moon will wash out any hope of seeing the inner workings of the Milky Way. It’s important to keep close tabs on these conditions leading up to your planned shoot so that you avoid disappointment when you arrive at your destination.

As a final note, the Milky Way’s position in the night sky is not constant. In the Northern Hemisphere, for instance, the core shifts from being visible in the southeastern skies in Spring to due south in Summer, and finally southwest in the Fall. For the Southern Hemisphere, it’ll be the southwest in the Spring, and southeast in the Summer and Fall.

Finding A Dark Sky

To help you find a good site to capture your night sky time-lapse, we’d recommend using tools like the excellent Dark Site Finder. These will help provide you with a visual aid so that you can gauge the level of light pollution in your area, and also help you find just how far out you’ll need to go to see truly dark skies.

For some suggestions check out our guide to the best dark sky locations in the USA. Or you’re in the UK, we have a guide for there too.

For obvious regions, National Parks such as Yosemite and Big Bend are popular choices for astrophotography in general, due to their beautiful landscapes and lack of polluting light nearby. It’s important to consider this carefully, as it will determine how the finished product looks when everything is said and done.

Setting Up To Capture Your Images

Now is the time to put your new knowledge into practice. With your gear packed and destination mapped out, you’re ready to head out into the field and gather your images. Take a moment and appreciate that you’ve put in the effort to get this far; the key to progressing in any skill is to acknowledge the progress you make, however big or small.

When you arrive at your chosen dark sky site, here’s what you should do.

Composition & Framing

You’ll want to first begin scouting the immediate area for potential points of interest. This will obviously be much easier during the daytime, so we’d highly recommend arriving at or before the late afternoon in order to get the lay of the land around you. Remember, you’re looking for a spot that not only has a fantastic view of the section of the sky that the core of the Milky Way will be visible in, but also one that features some interesting foreground elements as well. For instance, in the video below, notice how the people around the campfire, the still waters of the lake, and the imposing majesty of Mt. Hood are all on full display:

Each of these elements brings interest to the composition, giving it a unique feeling that helps it stand out amongst a slew of other videos that just show the sky and nothing else. Try and keep this in mind when framing out your shots; perhaps there’s a particularly interesting broken tree that might look interesting from underneath, or maybe a nearby valley offers picturesque views of the countryside. In this regard, you are really only limited by your surroundings and your own creativity, so give some thought to this and take all the time you need to compose a fantastic shot. Your video will be better for it in the end.

General Camera Settings

Once you feel happy with your framing, it’s time to dial in the appropriate settings. It’s important to note here that there is no “golden rule” of astrophotography, which is to say that there is no group of settings or features that will reliably churn out incredible images in any spot around the globe. Finding the right exposure for your scene is a very specific, detailed process that will change depending upon a variety of factors.

With that said, there are some general guidelines that you can use as a frame of reference when dialing in your settings. Let’s look at a few of them below:

Shooting Mode: For starters, you’re going to want to put your camera into “Manual” mode when shooting time-lapse photography. The reason for this is simple; we don’t want the camera to be changing the focus between images in our sequence, because doing so would result in a poor-quality final video once everything is lined up. Manual mode gives us full control over what changes are made, and when.

Focus: Speaking of focus, it is very important to set it up properly for the first photo, as it will not be changing throughout the night. Of course, this can present a challenge during the night, as you’ll be pointing your camera into complete darkness. In order to ensure the scene is sharp, we’d recommend using your camera’s LIVE mode and zooming in on the brightest star in the sky. Once you have it isolated, turn the focus ring until it appears to be sharp. With this set, you can zoom back out, but be mindful not to bump the focus wheel again.

Shutter Speed: Because we need to let as much light spill into the sensor as possible, it is best to use a very slow shutter speed of around 20-30 seconds. Keep in mind that this will greatly exaggerate any bright source of light, so car headlights, streetlights, and even the moon can thwart your best efforts if you aren’t careful. Hopefully, you’ve taken care of that in the planning phase, and your scene is devoid of any such obstructions.

Aperture: Again, we need to let as much light into the sensor as possible, so when it comes to aperture, we want to use the widest opening your lens can muster. This can make all of the difference, so once again, we highly recommend using a lens that is capable of shooting at f/2.8 or “faster”. This will allow you to truly bring out the details in your scene.

ISO: In simple terms, ISO represents the amount of sensitivity the camera sensor itself has. The higher this number is, the more sensitive it will be to light. Sounds great, right? The key thing to keep in mind here is that with more sensitivity comes more noise in an image. Noise decreases the overall quality of the image, so you want to use just enough ISO to get the job done, and that’s it. In addition, this should be the first setting you turn down if you find that your images are overexposed at all.

Image Type: Every full-frame camera (and most crop-sensor bodies) will have the option to choose between JPEG and RAW files for your images. JPEG files will be compressed, and since we’re looking to preserve all of the data the sensor takes in, it’s best to instead choose RAW in just about any situation where you are shooting the night sky. Not only will this give you more flexibility during the editing phase, but it will also help you capture as much detail as possible, resulting in a more interesting, vivid final sequence.

That’s it; now that you have the basics down, there’s nothing left to do but start shooting! Relax, enjoy yourself, and remember that this is a marathon, not a sprint. You will make mistakes, you will have images that you aren’t fully happy with. It’s all part of the process; don’t let it discourage you from continuing along your path.

After The Shoot: Processing Your Images

When you’re back home with your collection of images, it’s now time to organize, edit, and bounce them down into a sequence to be played back like a video. This is its own topic altogether, so if you’re ready for the next step, be sure to read Part Two of our night sky time-lapse guide right here.

Happy Shooting!

Best Cameras for Time-Lapse In 2021

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 is the best time-lapse-friendly camera I can buy for the money?

First of all, if you’re already set on getting a compact camera, 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 camera bodies you can buy for this style of photography, ranking each of them in terms of their features, quality, flexibility, and price. Before that, though, let’s briefly zero in on what to look for in a time-lapse-capable camera system.

What To Look For In a Time-Lapse Camera

In general, when searching for a time-lapse camera, 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 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 traffic time-lapses 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, like 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 Beginner Time-Lapse Cameras

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 a fantastic camera to start with, so don’t overthink this too much. That said, here are our picks for the best beginner time-lapse camera bodies in 2018:

[amazon text=Nikon D5300&asin=B01MQGO8V6]

The Nikon d5300 represents the upper end of the manufacturer’s entry-level DSLR systems, and they pack quite a large amount of features into a very affordable price tag. The 24.2 megapixel CMOS sensor is capable of capturing beautiful, high-resolution images, despite it not being a full-frame body (full-frame meaning roughly equivalent to a 35mm film camera). Features like built-in WIFI and an extra-large swivel LCD display make it an ideal platform to launch your time-lapse endeavors.

[amazon text=Canon EOS 80D&asin=B01BUYJXMA]

Like the Nikon D5300, the 80D not only features a 24.2 megapixel CMOS image sensor and image stabilization, but it also includes a native time-lapse mode, making it one of the easiest camera systems to get started with right out of the box. It doesn’t hurt that using the camera is an absolute joy, as Canon really knows how to cater to the beginner market at this point with intuitive control systems.

[amazon text=Sony 6000&asin=B00IE9XHE0]

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. At 24 megapixels, it holds its own against the two larger bodies above, and features built-in WIFI and Bluetooth as well. If you’re looking to get something small and light enough for frequent travel, Sony might be for you.

Best Advanced Time-Lapse Cameras

If you’re ready to step up to the big leagues, these camera’s will get you there. 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.

[amazon text=Sony a7R III&asin=B076TGDHPT]

Featuring 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. 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.

[amazon text=Canon 5D Mk IV&asin=B01LVZBXRP]

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.

[amazon text=Nikon D850&asin=B076BXDX5F]

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 in an in-camera time-lapse system capable of shooting natively in 4K resolutions. 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 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. To zero in on the best cameras for shooting in low-light, we’ve got you covered.

[amazon text=Sony a7SII&asin=B0158SRJVQ]

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.

[amazon text=Nikon D500&asin=B01AUBSY38]

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 to the next level, then the D500 is a great candidate.

[amazon text=Nikon D7500&asin=B06ZYCS62R]

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.

So there you have it. Any one of the cameras on this list should be capable of taking professional level HD time-lapse photos, 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. As long as you stick to the big trusted brands, you will probably get something that you will be happy with, and something that will allow you to produce great time-lapse videos for years to come. Or at least until you upgrade to the next model up!

Getting Started with Hyperlapse Photography

Slow shutter speed fairground ride

What is Hyperlapse Photography? Well, if you spend much time watching timelapse videos online, you may have noticed certain videos that seem to incorporate a substantial amount of motion shots, giving the final product a very surreal feeling. This type of time-lapse technique is commonly referred to as a hyperlapse photography, and today, we’re going to learn how to make them.

Hyperlapse vs Time-lapse: What’s The Difference?

So, what exactly is the difference between a time-lapse and a hyperlapse? Put as simply as possible, time-lapse videos usually involve a static shot, or one in which the camera body itself does not move. Now, this isn’t completely accurate, as many “traditional” time-lapse videos still involve some sort of movement, often in the form of a subtle tilt or pan. By contrast, however, a hyperlapse video tends to make heavy use of motion, with the camera physically being moved from point to point.

To illustrate this point, let’s take a quick look at a regular time-lapse video like this one here:

Now, watch this hyperlapse video and compare the two:

Notice how in the second video, the camera seems to be in motion for many of the shots, and the action appears to be sped up considerably? This creates the feeling that you are almost “warping” through a scene in hyperspeed, giving the effect its name.

Now that you understand the basic differences between the two, it’s time to get down to business.

Making Your Own Hyperlapse Videos

Making hyperlapse videos is actually quite a bit easier than it may at first appear. Like regular time-lapse photography, all you are really doing is capturing a sequence of images and editing them together in rapid succession to create the visual effect. If you have a few basic pieces of photography gear, an open mind, and a dash of patience, then don’t worry; you’ve got this.

So, what exactly do you need to make a hyperlapse video? Well, now it’s easier than ever thanks to the ‘Hyperlapse’ mode built into the camera app on the latest versions of Android. Simply open the app, select ‘Hyperlapse’ mode and begin shooting. All the hard work will be done automatically by the app itself. Once rendered, your footage will be turned into glorious hyperlapse video!

To take your haperlapse videos to the next level and unlock all of the benefits that come with controlling the whole process, you may want to create your own videos using a standard camera. The rest of this guide will be devoted to making that happen.

Let’s briefly review what you need to get started.

Essential Gear Checklist

  • Camera: This can be a DSLR, mirrorless, point and shoot, or even a cell phone. Almost any camera will do!
  • Lens: If using an interchangeable lens system, you’ll need something that is ideally no wider than 24mm on a full frame camera, but also not so zoomed that you can’t see the full scene you have in your mind
  • Your Arms and Legs: You’ll need these to hold the camera steady and move around! We’d call that essential.
  • An Open Mind: This is as much an art form as it is a technical application of skills. Go into it ready to make mistakes and learn from them.

Once you have all of the above, you’re ready to go! Next up, let’s define the two main types of hyperlapse techniques in use today, and how and when you should use them.

Fixed Point vs Pan Hyperlapse

Though hyperlapse photography can take on nearly unlimited forms, there are two primary “style” categories that most videos fall under. These are fixed point and pan hyperlapes. Fixed point videos always involve some sort of fixed subject that never leaves the frame. As an example, look at the shot starting at 0:47 in the hyperlapse example video above. The famous rounded customer service booth is the point the camera is “fixed” on in this scene, so all of the motion literally revolves around it.

By comparison, a pan hyperlapse doesn’t necessarily have a fixed subject, and often involves a sweeping shot of a large scene. This is much less common than the fixed point technique, which is why we’ll be focused on that one in this guide, but it’s at least important to know that both exist.

Setting Up The Shot

Now that we have a good understanding of the common techniques used in hyperlapse photography, we’re ready to dig into the real reason you’re reading this; how to capture and make one your very own video! The first thing that you’ll need to do is map out and plan your shot as thoroughly as you possibly can. The more thought you put into what you want your video to look like, the better it will come out once you execute, trust us on this one.

With this in mind, let’s take this one step at a time and go through the process of setting up your hyperlapse shot.

Choosing a Subject

Your central subject is arguably the most important component in your entire video. This is the person, place or thing that you want your audience to focus in on, so the idea here is to make it as interesting as possible. See a particularly interesting building, or perhaps an awesome mountaintop? Make this the centerpiece of your video to give your viewers an experience they can’t find anywhere else.

In some cases, your subject can be more abstract, such as a crowded city street. If you wanted to “warp” down the street, you could simply walk forward in a straight line while snapping photos, and the crowd and surrounding buildings will all be part of your “subject”. You can see how the rules are very bendable, and when you have enough experience under your belt, breaking them outright is where the real fun begins.

Basic Camera Settings

So, if you’ve chosen a subject to base your shots around, that’s great! Now, how should you dial in your settings to ensure that you get the best shots you can? In general, you want to adjust your settings like you usually would when taking a single, still exposure. The real trick here is ensuring that each image looks relatively the same as the last in terms of exposure, white balance and framing.

You can adjust things in minor increments as you go along to ensure an even exposure, which you likely will need to do given that you are physically moving the camera from place to place. Just remember that you’ll need to put each of these frames back-to-back to create the final video, so try not to do anything jarring.

Mapping Out Your Route

This is one of the most important steps in properly executing your sequence of images, and it’s also the point where most newbies get stuck. It is extremely important that each and every frame be taken from not only the same height, but the same position relative to the subject as well. For instance, if you are walking down a street, you need to keep the camera pointed dead ahead, not letting it drift to one side or the other.

Pro Tip: Try looking for tiles or other patterns on the ground to follow. These can make for excellent pacing and positioning guides, helping you to stay on course as you move through your scene.

You may find it helpful to do a test run or two of your “track” to get comfortable with the motion. It can be a bit tricky staying so steady and consistent when moving, so don’t fret if it doesn’t come naturally at first. Once you feel more confident with the task at hand, you’re ready to rock.

Grabbing Your Photos

It’s time to start shooting. Keep your framing in mind as you guide yourself through your images one step at a time. It is crucial to the finished product that each step you take and each shutter you capture are as consistently spaced as humanly possible. A good rule of thumb to follow here is that the further you are away from your subject, the faster you can move in between shots. If you are only 5-25 feet away, however, you need to be capturing more images consistently as you move to really “sell” and represent the motion as it happens. Take it as slowly as you need to, this is a marathon, not a sprint. If you didn’t have any shoulder muscles before now, get ready to build some!

Once you’ve completed your sequence of shots, relax and give yourself a pat on the back. Review your images while you rest for a bit, making sure that each one looks level and even. If something is glaringly off, don’t sweat it. You can either live with the imperfection or redo all the shots entirely. Either way, they’ll be plenty of opportunities to improve your form as you go, so remember to not judge yourself too harshly (this goes for everything you do in life).

Next Up: Editing Your Footage Together

In our next guide, we’ll take an in-depth look at how to process and edit your hyperlapse videos. For now, however, if you’re looking to get started, here are the basic steps to follow:

  • Collect and organize your photo sequence within a single folder on your hard drive.
  • Import all of the photos to Adobe Lightroom or your preferred editing software.
  • Feel free to make basic corrections to the images if you’d like, but don’t do anything crazy, and keep them consistent.
  • Once done, import the entire photo folder to After Effects or Premiere Pro.
  • If done right, both programs should automatically lay them out on the timeline in the proper order. Create a composition by highlighting and right-clicking them all.
  • Apply the effect “Warp Stabilizer” to the newly created clip. Set smoothness to around 10% to start, but feel free to experiment.
  • That’s basically it! Again, we’ll get much more in-depth soon, but for now, this should get you up and running.

For some more information on the subject of Hyperlapse, check out Wikipedia’s very informative article.