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 Little Bramper intervalometer 
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Post Little Bramper intervalometer
First, Little Bramper has its own website: http://www.thewhippersnapper.com

To keep this thread under control, I'm consolidating info by adding this introduction about the Little Bramper:

What is it? The Little Bramper is a Bulb-ramping intervalometer that uses bulb mode to precisely control the image exposure (with a precision of 0.001s). The user can then smoothly vary the exposure during the time-lapsing session, enabling flicker-free exposure transitions (e.g. day to night, night to day, approaching thunderstorm etc.). The reason Little Bramper exists is simply because dSLRs cannot natively provide silky smooth exposure variations. Using Little Bramper is a manual, interactive process in which you study your histogram and decide whether you need to increase of decrease the exposure. If you like the idea of bramping, but want it to be automated, you may be interested in Shutterdrone's `Lightrails' which has a built-in light meter - or PhotoByKev's adaptation. There are other DIY bramping devices out there, but I can't vouch for them as I have no experience with them. I have sufficient confidence in the Little Bramper that I'm prepared to put my non-existent reputation on the line and offer it to fellow enthusiasts.

What else does it do? Little Bramper can also be used like a regular intervalometer (i.e. in modes other than Bulb). Most notably it offers arbitrary 0.001s precision intervalometry (e.g. sub-second) and ramping of the Intervalometry (causes your time-lapse to accelerate/decelerate). Annoyingly, neither of these functions are available in workhorse intervalometers, such as Canon's TC-80N3.

Despite its name Little Bramper actually provides considerable freedom in how you use it. Very little is hidden from the user. For example, your total time-lapse exposure range can be greatly expanded by incorporating `advanced' techniques based on photographic reciprocity, such as ISO-stepping and the adding/removal of ND filters. These can expand your exposure range to over 15 stops if you have a nice camera and good ND filters. Bulb-ramping alone can offer about 7 or more stops, limited only by the longest exposure times you're prepared to tolerate. For technical reasons the shortest bulb exposures are about 1/10s. The 'Holy Grail' goal is about 20 stops - enough to get you from direct sunlight to a star-filled sky.

Can I get one? You can acquire one here, http://www.thewhippersnapper.com . Little Bramper is something I do in my spare time and is under continual development. Things are subject to change. If you're interested in it, read on, leave comments, or send me a PM. Personally, I will keep on bramping, and if there's sufficient interest amongst other time-lapsers I will continue making batches of them.

Image

Works on Canons e.g. 5DII. (Users of Rebels will additionally need a hotshoe-to-PC adapter. Possible incompatibility with some new Rebels. e.g. 550D)[/size]
Does not work on Nikons
Untested on Olympus, Sony, Pentax


You get everything necessary to start shooting immediately - except 4xAA NiMH batteries.
If you use a Canon Rebel you will need a hotshoe-PC adapter and a 2.5mm to 3.5mm male-male camera connector. I cannot provide these at this time.

1x Little Bramper board (with LCD and keypad)
1x Canon N3 Camera connector
1x connector for PC socket (PC = Prontor-Compur)
1x Battery holder
2x extension cables (3.5mm)
1x terminator plug - allows you to use some features of LB (sub-second intervalometry and interval ramping) with modes other than BULB. Not shown in picture.

Example time-lapses taken with Little Bramper:

(password: Golden)


(password: Yerba)


Three basic instructional videos:
(password: LB)

part 2. http://www.vimeo.com/12590632
part 3. http://www.vimeo.com/12590412
more advanced stuff to come ...

More info at http://www.thewhippersnapper.com

Cheers,
Tom.





Finally, the original content of this post ... (to preserve the causal fabric of forum space-time).


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Foolishly I said I'd whip up a simple pure bulb-ramping intervalometer by the weekend - I have 1 minute left. Mostly a copy & paste affair (both soft- and hardware), but the core timing method is rather different to my other intervalometers, and the interactions between Bulb and Interval times proved to be rather more complex than I'd initially thought. However, it seems to be straightened out now. Its main distinction is that both Bulb (B) and Interval (I) now take values in milliseconds.

In terms of a possible kit; it's all through-hole parts. Really very few of them. Not a difficult soldering project at all. Gave up on the idea of a basic button interface and stayed with the keypad. No need to make things harder just to make it look superficially simpler.


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Sun Feb 28, 2010 8:59 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
You are amazing Tom. Please bring toys over to show off ASAP! :D


Sun Feb 28, 2010 10:00 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Will the device handle 'normal' intervalometer functions as well?


Sun Feb 28, 2010 11:30 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Come on Thomas,

Show us a video of this beauty in action please.

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Mon Mar 01, 2010 1:17 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
astronomerroyal wrote:
Foolishly I said I'd whip up a simple pure bulb-ramping intervalometer by the weekend - I have 1 minute left.

Lucky you didn't haven't an earthquake to contend with :P .. Seriously good work!

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Mon Mar 01, 2010 8:44 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
matt b wrote:
Will the device handle 'normal' intervalometer functions as well?


You'd have to list those 'normal' functions. If you set ramping to zero, it behaves like a basic intervalometer. Doesn't do bracketing, or self-timer...

choi wrote:
Show us a video of this beauty in action please.


Had my alarm clock gone off this morning I'd have tried a night-day. My first field test was a disaster - maybe try again this evening...

colinmlegg wrote:
Lucky you didn't haven't an earthquake to contend with :P .. Seriously good work!


Right. We had a small tremor in Ann arbor last year - actually woke me up. Amazing how the Earth can move.

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Mon Mar 01, 2010 9:19 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
astronomerroyal wrote:
Right. We had a small tremor in Ann arbor last year - actually woke me up. Amazing how the Earth can move.

I was in the mountains east of Santiago on Saturday night when one of the larger after shocks hit. First time I've felt a wobble standing on solid ground...for the big one the night before I was in a building. Feeling solid ground wobble is just plain weird!

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Mon Mar 01, 2010 10:07 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
fantastic Astro... is there a Parts list that i can get to go to my local supply store and fill or does mouser have everything ??
thanks in advance

kd7

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Thu Mar 11, 2010 10:46 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
kilodelta7 wrote:
fantastic Astro... is there a Parts list that i can get to go to my local supply store and fill or does mouser have everything ??
thanks in advance


The main problem there is that the microcontroller needs to be programmed with the firmware. What I suggest is that I simply make bags of all the parts (programmed microcontroller, nice PCB, LCD, keypad + all other bits) and just sell these as a kit.

Nevertheless, I shall write up a 'bill of materials', and for the 0.0001% of people prepared to program the PIC 18F2520 microcontroller themselves, I'll supply the hex file. In the past I've bought the LCDs from a guy in Ann Arbor - very reasonable price in bulk, hand delivered the same day (any standard 20x4 HD44780 compatible LCD should work). Keypads are from ebay/China - correct pin-out must be ensured here. I wouldn't recommend getting these sorts of parts from Mouser, as they're much more expensive. The prototyping board I used in the pictures below is from Radioshack (276-168). RadioShack is hideously overpriced, but this board was really quite handy.

Unfortunately I won't have these available until April - traveling the rest of this month. Had an irritating Toyota bug (dangerous and hard to reproduce) but seem to have that sorted out/circumvented.

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I soldered together this prototype for an upcoming trip to San Francisco - hopefully shall time-lapse with Delrious. The camera connects to this gadget via standard 3.5mm stereo miniphone jacks. The function and wiring for this connection will be described later.

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works with other LCD displays, like this giant one,

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The final PCB will be home-etchable, I believe - but I shall be getting some 'professionally' made. The total parts cost for the soldered prototype in the pictures is not less than $30. Add to this the cost of the PCB, about $10 I'd imagine. Batteries not included.

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Here's a night-day test I did with this gadget the other week. Not more than 15 stops; light pollution -> Sun on snow. I think I started at ISO 3200 (Canon 5DII) , and the quality was really rather good. Password: bramp



Cheers,
Tom.

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Sun Mar 14, 2010 10:15 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
You rock!!! Please stop by sometime this week for show and tell :D


Sun Mar 14, 2010 11:32 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
milapse wrote:
You rock!!! Please stop by sometime this week for show and tell :D


Sure, any day other than wed. Earlier the better.

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Sun Mar 14, 2010 12:20 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
i'll buy one ;)

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Sun Mar 14, 2010 1:09 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Really appreciate your effort to make this available. Thank you :!:

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Mon Mar 15, 2010 5:55 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Soon we'll just be saying - your Worshipfullness.... :D

You guys in Ann Arbor are now getting nearly a full day of my time. See you both in mid-May.


Thu Mar 18, 2010 4:39 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
great work... put me on the list for one, and let me know when they are ready...

got my soldering iron all warmed up and waiting... whoo hoo !

kd7


ps i will need a 2.5 mm plug for canon

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Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:25 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Put me down for one!

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Sun Mar 28, 2010 1:20 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Me too!

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Sun Mar 28, 2010 9:56 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
and me! You will have to set up manufacturing base in China at this rate :)

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Sun Mar 28, 2010 11:05 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Had a conference in San Francisco last week. Delrious very kindly showed me around some of his excellent time-lapse spots. SF really is a great city for time-lapsing.

Here's some raw bulb-ramping footage taken using the gadget;


password 'Golden'. The glitch near the beginning is just user-error.


password 'Yerba'

Now to get those PCBs made ...

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Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:41 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Brilliant and no flicker at all ! or did you have to tweak it post using anti flicker software?
How many boards are you getting for your first batch? Cost of gadget ? Do we have to reconfirm our orders? :D

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Tue Mar 30, 2010 8:40 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Most impressive!

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Wed Mar 31, 2010 3:21 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
unozig wrote:
Brilliant and no flicker at all ! or did you have to tweak it post using anti flicker software?
How many boards are you getting for your first batch? Cost of gadget ? Do we have to reconfirm our orders? :D


No tweaking. I just ran the images through QT Pro in my hotel room. I haven't worked out how much these kits will cost exactly - more than $40.

Cheers,
Tom.

EDIT: just submitted PCB design for fabrication. Just a small batch for testing purposes - it passed the free online manufacturability tests, so we should have a semi-finished product soon.

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Wed Mar 31, 2010 7:47 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Impressed and interested.


Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:10 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Got the prototyping PCBs yesterday, from AdvancedCircuits (US-based, came with complimentary bag of popcorn). These proto PCBs don't have the green soldermask, allowing one to fix bugs. Fortunately there weren't any real bugs, and you can see an assembled version running below.

Some thoughts:

1) The LCD was meant to sit over the PCB, but I got the header back-to-front. Ooops. I had considered the current layout as a design option, decided against it for compactness reasons, and then forgot to switch everything back round. I actually prefer the current arrangement in some ways, for technical reasons to do with the keypad accessibility.

2) It's a straightforward soldering job.

3) The LCD, keypad and PCB disconnect for transportation. The LCD could be soldered to PCB, for a better connect - this is probably what I will do. You can't hotplug the LCD, so maintaining the connection is critical. Unfortunately I can't screw this rather large LCD to PCB without making the PCB footprint much larger and several dollars more expensive.

If you have a any strong thoughts about how things should be, please speak up.

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:04 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
If these really do become for sale please put me on the list. I can prepay :-) Keep us posted if/when these will be for sale. very nice work!

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 10:16 am
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Looking good.

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 12:00 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
this looks like it will almost fit in an Altoids tin... i have my chocolate tin all ready... paypal is set to send...

kd7

ps please remember that some of us have to connect to the 2.5 mm plug ... say for a Canon 450D and such... thanks in advance.

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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
[quote="astronomerroyal"]
3) The LCD, keypad and PCB disconnect for transportation. The LCD could be soldered to PCB, for a better connect - this is probably what I will do. You can't hotplug the LCD, so maintaining the connection is critical. Unfortunately I can't screw this rather large LCD to PCB without making the PCB footprint much larger and several dollars more expensive.

If you have a any strong thoughts about how things should be, please speak up.

I would prefer to have all the above 3 parts to be soldered as I wouldn't want to assemble them each time before use.
There are many things to remember and to do before a shoot and this would just add to the list.
Now where's that check list I am meaning to do? :oops:

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:50 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Tom, one small question. Will you be able to make bulb adjustments for ND on/off and ISO changes during the same bramping run? It was a question I also had for your original gadget....but forgot to ask.

Cheers!

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 2:55 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
*breaking into your apartment now*

colinmlegg wrote:
Tom, one small question. Will you be able to make bulb adjustments for ND on/off and ISO changes during the same bramping run? It was a question I also had for your original gadget....but forgot to ask.


yep he's got a shift exposure function. My first run I couldn't resist running a 1/30" to where-ever it settled creating an accelerated final output. It was thrilling! ;)


Thu Apr 08, 2010 3:22 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
milapse wrote:
My first run I couldn't resist running a 1/30" to where-ever it settled creating an accelerated final output. It was thrilling!


Brilliant...a small revolution is about to happen!

A little more detail to my question.... I'd like it to be able to make more than one scale of exposure adjustment during the run. First would be a 3 stop adjustment for ND off, then the second would be 1/3 stop adjustments for ISO changes. Is this possible?

Thanks.

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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
kilodelta7 wrote:
ps please remember that some of us have to connect to the 2.5 mm plug ... say for a Canon 450D and such... thanks in advance.


Connectors are a sore spot for me. The solution is to get a 2.5mm to 3.5mm adapter. Then use a Male to Male 3.5mm extension cable - easy to come by too. I'm rather fond of 3.5mm connectors, so may be able to supply some.

Enclosures are another sore spot. It's something that is difficult to do properly, so I usually don't even try.

unozig wrote:
I would prefer to have all the above 3 parts to be soldered as I wouldn't want to assemble them each time before use.


The keypads come with a connector, and I wouldn't mess with that. The bramper comes as a kit that your solder yourself - the LCD could be soldered permanently to the PCB. I'll be the first to admit that ergonomically the thing looks dumb. For those unprepared to solder, I could do that for a fee (note how I use money as a form of dissuasion.)

colinmlegg wrote:
Tom, one small question. Will you be able to make bulb adjustments for ND on/off and ISO changes during the same bramping run?


Yes, you can increase/decrease the Bulb by a stop with the press of a button. Just press it 3 times for a 3-stop filter. We briefly discussed the possibility of +/- 1/3 or 1/2 steps instead and I'm ambivalent about adding that; it's easy to add but might increase the potential for 'user-dissatisfaction' - I'd need some persuasion (in the non-monetary sense). Using whole stops works nicely for ISO-stepping. So, persuade me.

As an aside, aperture-stepping and ND-adding/removing I have found to be sufficiently imperfect that post-processing would be required - another sore spot for me personally. Aperture -> vignetting and exposure issues. ND -> colour and exposure issues. To elaborate, I somehow have three of those dreadful Cokin ND filters (P121 I think) - they're completely different colours and densities. Horrendous colour shift and exposure error when adding/removing them. Colin, I know you have nicer filters so I won't say it can't work well (I don't know exactly what 'well' means) ...

milapse wrote:
My first run I couldn't resist running a 1/30" to where-ever it settled creating an accelerated final output. It was thrilling! ;)


A bold move for a first attempt. I seem to remember that it ended with something like 16 second exposures ... but ended well.

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 4:51 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Seeing as you have put so much time and effort into it, personally I would be happy to contribute a healthy profit margin to you for any kits you provide. :D

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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
astronomerroyal wrote:
Using whole stops works nicely for ISO-stepping. So, persuade me.

It's only an issue if you want to keep the gap small to maximize motion blur. An example -

Exposure is running at 12", and interval 15" and you up the ISO by 1 stop. Exposure is now 6" with a noticeable change in motion blur. If ISO changes in 1/3 steps the difference is less noticeable.

astronomerroyal wrote:
Colin, I know you have nicer filters so I won't say it can't work well (I don't know exactly what 'well' means) ...

Here's a recent example - straight off the camera. I have (or had) the Lee Pro Glass ND 3 filter + holder. It will be interesting to see how it holds up under automatic bramping control. I agree, some minor post adjustments maybe required to remove any transition.
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Antz wrote:
Seeing as you have put so much time and effort into it, personally I would happy to contribute a healthy profit margin to you for any kits you provide.

Too right!

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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Dumb question: Will I be able to solder up my nikon connector?

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 8:24 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
I have been using the Singh-ray ND filters and have had absolutely no issues, no color shifts ever. The filters are very expensive, BUT i think its well worth the investment if you use them enough (i sure do)!.

Another Singh-ray filter i have is the vari-ND (http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html. VERY expensive, but has paid for itself multiple times over for me while doing still photography. I wonder if the vari-ND might be helpful for timelapse and exposure control/changes. If you are not familiar, the vari-ND is sor of like a polarizer in form, but it allows you to dial in various amounts of ND.

Image.
Vari-ND in action (if the animation stops just refresh the page)

I think if it was to be used to control exposure you would need to rig up a motor to it and slowly turn it during the timelapse, pretty much like a motion controlled zoom. I saw this done very simply with a servo city setup. Anyways, not sure how useful or practical its use might be, but that just popped in my head.

Thats just my 2 cents on filters.

astronomerroyal, thank you for putting so much time and effort into this thing. I am very willing to support your efforts, and put some extra $ in your wallet :-)

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Thu Apr 08, 2010 9:09 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Antz wrote:
Seeing as you have put so much time and effort into it, personally I would be happy to contribute a healthy profit margin to you for any kits you provide. :D



ditto to what antz says ... you should include at least a decent markup for your time... i do when i tune a piano for someone... but then i have some fees set by the market place as well...

kilowattdog7

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Fri Apr 09, 2010 12:03 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
I would like a kit for this as well. Mayne it will encourage me to actually use the DSLR for timelapses more than I do. This gadget makes it behave more like a motion picture camera.


Fri Apr 09, 2010 1:16 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
Antz wrote:
Seeing as you have put so much time and effort into it, personally I would be happy to contribute a healthy profit margin to you for any kits you provide. :D


Thanks. We'll have to see how reasonable the final balance is - and how satisfied people are with the results.

colinmlegg wrote:
Exposure is running at 12", and interval 15" and you up the ISO by 1 stop. Exposure is now 6" with a noticeable change in motion blur. If ISO changes in 1/3 steps the difference is less noticeable.

Here's a recent example - straight off the camera. I have (or had) the Lee Pro Glass ND 3 filter + holder.


Colin, I'm with you on the motion blur thing. In my experience I hadn't noticed a big change when dropping bulb time by a stop, however my motion blurs tend to be small/modest in the image. For frame-filling blurs smaller steps would certainly be warranted - so I've put 1/3, 1/2 and 1 stop options in there.

I took your two frames and looped them in Quicktime. The reciprocity error in exposure and colour does look quite small. Impressive. I'll have to consider them - an easy way to get 3 (or maybe even multiples of that) stops, with hopefully only a bit of fixing in post.

Andrew Curtis wrote:
Dumb question: Will I be able to solder up my nikon connector?


You'll need some sort of Nikon to male 3.5mm stereo adapter. They exist, are probably horribly overpriced - Milapse showed me an N3 to 3.5mm adapter from Promote that was $15. I'm not familiar with Nikon stuff but I imagine triggering them is fundamentally similar to Canon.

peppino wrote:
I have been using the Singh-ray ND filters and have had absolutely no issues, no color shifts ever. The filters are very expensive, BUT i think its well worth the investment if you use them enough (i sure do)!.

Another Singh-ray filter i have is the vari-ND (http://www.singh-ray.com/varind.html.


There's a thread about this somewhere. I think bzeigler posted some pictures from a variable ND filter and the artifacts got a bit out of hand. The problem with a motorized aperture ring or variND is the complication of actually making such a thing. I've been meaning to try it... Not entirely enthusiastic about it, as it only gets you 5-6(?) quality stops - not bad, but is it worth the effort? If stacking three SRay 3stop ND filters is possible (removing them one at a time), then a small bit of post processing is worth the 9 stops. That gets us beyond the Holy Grail '20-stops' mark.

sciencelookers wrote:
Mayne it will encourage me to actually use the DSLR for timelapses more than I do.


You're aware of shutterdrone's LightOnRails. I think that would excel at automating exposure for deep time-lapses, in which one merges together short-but-perfect time-lapse vignettes from different days. Another thing I've been meaning to try.

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Fri Apr 09, 2010 6:46 pm
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Post Re: Man.bulb.grip - bulb-ramping intervalometer
astronomerroyal wrote:
There's a thread about this somewhere. I think bzeigler posted some pictures from a variable ND filter and the artifacts got a bit out of hand. The problem with a motorized aperture ring or variND is the complication of actually making such a thing. I've been meaning to try it... Not entirely enthusiastic about it, as it only gets you 5-6(?) quality stops - not bad, but is it worth the effort? If stacking three SRay 3stop ND filters is possible (removing them one at a time), then a small bit of post processing is worth the 9 stops. That gets us beyond the Holy Grail '20-stops' mark.



You know what, yeah i think there would be way too much vignetting at the wider angles, especially on a 5DII. The vari-nd is pretty thick.

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