How to Use an Intervalometer in Time-lapse Photography

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Are you fond of capturing images that need to be shown in sequence? Or are you planning to engage in such activity known as time lapse photography? If so, then you need the help of an interval timer:

intervalometer for photography

“Rollerblade Sequence” captured by Cameron Card (Click Image to See More From Cameron Card)

The so-called time lapses are ideal when you need to show how a process is done such as how a flower comes in full bloom or how to build a play or bird house, for instance. The images are then joined together to create a slideshow. Another option is to create a movie out of the time lapses through the use of a video-editing software.

An interval timer may be built in your camera. Digital camera brands that have this feature include the Nikon DSLRs (except for the D3100, D90 as well as the P7000 and P500 compacts), all current Pentax SLRs, all Ricoh compacts, Samsung WB 2000 and Olympus SP-800. For those using the Canon and Sony DSLRs, you will need an external interval timer as it’s not a built-in feature. You can also use a remote control by a third party manufacturer.

When taking time lapses, it’s a good idea to use a tripod to ensure that your digital camera is steady and focused all the time. The tripod has to stand on a solid surface and placed in an area where it won’t be disturbed. Find a good place where your camera has a good view of your subject but keep in mind to consider the sun’s movement while you’re capturing your preferred sequence.

To make sure that you get a clear picture, you will have to pre-focus on your subject. Set your camera into manual mode and switch the auto white balance to manual mode as well. A manual exposure is likewise ideal if you’re capturing a subject under fixed lighting.

Another tip is to use a higher ISO if you choose to shoot at night and at short intervals only. This should be your best option as well if you’re shooting moving objects or subjects.

Experts point out that you can achieve quality images if you’re shooting raw. However, you will have to use the high-capacity memory cards for this purpose.

intervalometer

Intervalometer

Now as to setting your interval timer, program it according to the interval you want between frames. It can be every 30 seconds or less depending on what you’re trying to capture. Normally, an interval timer can be set from 10 seconds to an hour and a half. You may also have to consider as well the total number of frames you want to shoot for your sequence. A good point to remember is to close the viewfinder blind before you begin taking photos. This will prevent any stray light from entering the eyepiece.

Once you’re done with your shooting, it’s now time to decide on how you’re going to show your images in a sequence. There are some simple video-editing software available that will help you create a mini movie. Otherwise, you can present them in a slideshow by using Powerpoint or Elements.

About the Author:
For information about digital camera batteries, visit 42photo.com, New York’s legendary camera store in business for over 40 years.

For Further Training, PictureCorrect Suggests:

Check out this new COMPLETE guide (146 pages) to shooting, processing and rendering time-lapses using a dslr camera. It can be found here: Time-lapse Photography Guide

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3 Comments

  1. John E. Nolan says:

    Really enjoyed reading about trick photography, I think looking and reading about it caught my interest about it more! Thank you for sharing!
    Sincerely,

    John E. Nolan

  2. Kay Brown says:

    I just bought an intervalometer and have no idea how to use it for time lapse photography. Is there a website that shows step by step instructions? The instruction booklet included with my timer is confusing.

  3. Mike says:

    @Kay – So did I. Mine did not come with a manual so I am searching for any info also. I’ve tried all combinations of buttons but I can only adjust the hours.
    I assumed this article would help but it was useless.

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