A Guide in Preparing Your Camera When Shooting Time Lapse

Time-lapse is one of the commonly used photography techniques nowadays because of its ability to transform a long video to a faster speed version in a creative way. It is best to shoot scenes that have a rather slow movement. Natural events such as waterfalls, moving clouds, open night sky, sunrise, sunset, or blooming flowers can be nice subjects to choose. You could also select to record the development of building construction by simply taking still images of your construction site at the same frame throughout the construction timeline. Afterward, you just have to stitch all the pictures together and set them in sequence to end up with a time-lapse video. Time-lapse is a great way to showcase a complete transition of an event. The timelapse technique can create a video to show the progress of a certain scenario at a faster speed, which is a lot more interesting because it can get boring or way too long when watched at regular speed. When you want to achieve amazing time-lapse videos and images, you must first know how to set up a time-lapse camera. Using a good camera to capture timelapse will result in a greater image and video quality for sure.


Shooting Timelapse with a DSLR Camera

If you want to step up your game with time-lapse photography, knowing how to capture time-lapse with your camera is a must. Shooting time-lapse with a camera may be complicated when you are a beginner because you must know how to set and control the settings of your camera manually. But you do not have to worry because you will surely get used to it with constant practice. Here are the camera settings you must control when capturing time-lapse :


Frames Per Second

Frames per second, also known as the frame interval, indicates the photos taken every second. For example, if you set your camera settings to 24 frames per second, then it will shoot 24 photos in one second. Further, a ten seconds clip would shoot 240 frames in total.


Shutter Speed

A slow shutter speed is recommended, or a doubled rate of the frames per second (fps) setting. For example, if your fps is at 24 fps, then set your shutter speed at a rate of 1/48. If you want to achieve a motion blur, then you must set the shutter speed longer.


ISO and Aperture

Both these settings affect the brightness of the camera. During the daytime, you have to set your camera at a low ISO. The lowest ISO possible is best because it also decreases the noise and grainy effect of the image. But at night, or at a low-light setting, you may have to adjust your ISO higher for it to capture more light. As for the aperture, it will control the light passing through the lens. Additionally, it also helps with sharpening the image. Adjust these settings according to your subject.


Other Essential Equipment

Equip your camera with other essential accessories such as a tripod, batteries, large memory card, ND filter, and an intervalometer. The tripod will keep your camera stable, so it can shoot a clear image. You should also bring extra batteries with you all the time, so you can continue shooting in case your mounted camera battery dies. Consider using a memory card with a large capacity as well because a time-lapse requirements thousands of images to be taken.


An ND filter is bonus equipment to make your shot sharper over elements moving at a fast speed. An intervalometer helps with easier control of frame intervals. It is especially used for time-lapse photography as a remote control for the frame interval settings. With an intervalometer, you get to shoot photos without having to click the shutter speed of the camera all the time. This means you can leave your camera on a tripod, set the intervalometer, and it will take pictures for you at your best interval rate for the time-lapse. You do not have to be behind your camera throughout the whole shooting process.


prepare a time-lapse with phone

Shooting Timelapse via Mobile Phone

Using your mobile phone camera to create time-lapse is mostly hassle-free, especially if your phone already has a built-in timelapse mode in its camera settings. In this instance, you just have to select the time-lapse mode, stabilize your mobile phone in front of your subject, and click the record or shot button. Once done, it will automatically export as a time-lapse video. If your phone does not have the built-in timelapse mode, then you can download a free app or software such as Photoshop where you can edit your image or video file and transform it to a time-lapse content.


3 others methods to prepare a perfect timelapse

Lots of ways exists to help you in shooting a timelapse. Each has its pros and cons. We’ve chosen to introduce you some of them among the most popular. By the way, we have used each of them when making our Easter timelapse :


1. Magic Lantern

Magic Lantern is a free add-on made for the Canon EOS reflex. This adds several functionalities to your camera. Thanks to Magic Lantern, you can use an intervalometer on your camera ! Indeed, this feature isn’t natively integrated in most of the cameras. Through this feature, you can decide the duration between each shooting. The installment of  Magic Lantern is quick and easy. You’ll need to put a file on your memory card, switch to the Manuel mode and push a button (usually the Q or the trash button) of your camera to enter the Magic Lantern mode.

Unfortunately, every Canon EOS reflex aren’t supported. The website of Magic Lantern lists the most part of supported cameras. In the case where yours isn’t integrated, there are other solutions.

2. An intervalometer

An intervalometer is a kind of remote control (typically wired) letting you control your cameras remotely. You can also set it up to take pictures at a regular interval. Then, you are free to move off the place where is your camera since it’s self-sufficient.

A ten-dollars intervalometer fit the bill, but you can look for a more expensive model with more features. It’s the core item for anyone willing to make a timelapse !


3. Pulse

Pulse is a connected camera remote close to an intervalometer. Made by Alpine Labs, it connects your camera to your smartphone through Bluetooth. Lots of features like timelapse are then provided. You can shoot timelapses by setting several parameters directly from your phone : the date the picture shooting starts, the time between each shoot. You can see how many pictures will be taken and the progress.

It is a main asset is that once set up, you can close the app or move off your camera. More than that, it helps the transition between day-taken pictures and the night-taken one.

4. And then ?

Once you've chosen a method and set your camera, you need to make sure your device will be steady during all the time it takes pictures. A tripod is essential. You have to prevent your battery from being discharged, and an extra battery can be useful.

Our advice is to take pictures in DNG format, which is the raw format which gives more flexibility in the editing. When all pictures are taken, you have to edit them with a software made for it. Adobe Lightroom is the one we use, less expensive than Photoshop and specialized in the picture processing. You can for example edit all the pictures at the same time without overwriting the original version and sort the pictures. We will make an article dealing specifically with it.

Finally, you just need to export your pictures in JPEG and put them on our web app, my.enlaps.io to mount a timelapse easily ! Besides that, a video explaining the way our app works is available on YouTube here.

Part 2 of the video: here

Part 3 : here