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 Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse 
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Post Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
These are some basic guidelines and tips for shooting timelapses on your digital SLR camera. I happen to use the Canon 350D (Rebel XT) camera, so I will use that as the basis for these tips. Specific information about how to make other cameras (Nikons, etc) work is not something I know about. But hopefully the general information contained here will help.


• Equipment you need.

Image

A Digital SLR camera (shown with vertical battery grip). Probably an entry-level "crop" sensor camera is best for beginners.

Lens. Preferably one that is wide-angle and easy to set to infinity. I use the Canon 10-22mm, and love it. But even a kit lens can get great results.

Image

Intervalometer. This is the small unit that controls your camera during timelapse. Without it, most cameras cannot shoot timelapse at all. On Ebay just search for "remote timer _____" with the blank spot being your type of camera -- Canon 5D, Nikon D3, etc. On Ebay you can get a knockoff the Canon TC80-N3 for about 1/3 the price that Canon charges. I can personally recommend LinkDelight's Aputure brand of remote timers (intervalomters). I use one and it seems to work great.

Image

Tripod. The taller, heavier, and sturdier the better. You don't need an expensive, light carbon-fiber tripod... they will result in shaky timelapses. If you need to use a light tripod, make sure to weigh it down with some bricks or rocks or those sandbags sold in camera stores. Also, having a tall tripod works out well, because you get a higher vantage point for your wide shots, plus you don't have to crouch down and hunch over to see through your viewfinder or mess with the LCD menu. A tripod that can raise at least as high as your chest is ideal. I use the Slik Pro 700DX.

Battery grip. Extra batteries. AC adapter. Inverter for your car. The first thing to get is a vertical battery grip extender. Timelapses, especially at night, drain batteries like crazy. But with the grip, you can shoot twice as long. If you plan to shoot in remote locations, you might want to get an inverter in your car's cigarette lighter. You can pick these up at Radio Shack, and they plug into your cigarette lighter. 125-watt is more than enough. You can use the inverter to charge your camera batteries, laptop, cell phone, ipod, flashlights, etc, while you are out in the field. You can also power your camera with an AC adapter that plugs right into your battery grip. I actually own 3 or 4 inverters, and I use them bigtime when shooting and camping.


• How to shoot.

Now that you have your equipment ready, it's time to shoot. Start off with something simple, maybe a scene in your neighborhood or at a park during the day. Set up your tripod, find your frame, then bust out your intervalometer and secure it to your tripod (I use a velcro strap to keep my TC80 from flapping in the wind).

This is where you have to start being careful and double checking stuff, or mistakes will happen.

Load 2 fresh batteries into the battery grip. Are they fully charged? Double check.

Once you have your subject and frame chosen, bring up your menu.

Format your CF card. If you are shooting RAW, you will need a 2GB card for roughly a 10-second timelapse (240 frames). My 4GB cards usually give me about 460 frames, which is just short of a 20-second timelapse (assuming 24 frames per second playback). If you are shooting JPEG, you might be able to get up 1000 images on a 4GB card. Maybe more. An 8GB card can handle roughly 700-900 RAW frames, more than enough for nearly any shoot. Of course, your camera's resolution will factor in.

Once your CF card is formatted, make sure your white balance is set to a custom level. Never, ever use Auto White Balance, or the camera will change color temps in the middle of your sequence, which completely destroys your timelapse.

Now, double check to make sure your lens is set to manual and the shot is in focus. If you leave the lens on autofocus, every bird or cloud that flies by will cause your lens to seek focus again, totally ruining your timelapse. Haha, I had nice shots destroyed this way... twice!

Okay, your batteries are fully charged, your CF card is blank and ready to go, your white balance is NOT set to auto, and your lens is focused and set to MANUAL. Fire off a couple test shots to make sure the exposure and framing are good on your LCD.

Now it's time to set your intervalometer. The TC80 and most similar devices have several modes, including interval, bulb duration, number of exposures, and a delayed start. The most important is interval. If you are shooting clouds in the daylight, you probably want to have your shutter fire about once every 1 to 3 seconds (shooting RAW, you might have to stick with 2-3 seconds, as many DSLRs have trouble shooting RAW at 1fps or faster). These short interval times will give a smooth motion to the clouds. For faster-moving clouds, set 1-second intervals. Slow-moving clouds, try 3 seconds between frames. You don't want to set a really high interval time, like 10 or 20 seconds, or your timelapse will look very "choppy," stuttered, and sped up. Trial and error will lead you to know which interval is right for different types of shots. A movie/timelapse clip usually runs at 24 frames per second (24p), so a good rule of thumb is that 240 photos will produce a 10-second timelapse when you stream them together in Final Cut, Premiere Pro, or whatever video editing system (NLE) you use. At 30fps, 300 shots are needed for 10 seconds of video.

Now check your shot one last time. Do you have manual exposure settings (shutter speed, f/stop, white balance, etc) and a good interval time (usually between 2 and 6 seconds)? Check your lens for dust one last time (one speck of dust can ruin a whole timelapse because they cannot easily be "painted out" across 200-300 frames), then take a deep breath and press START on the intervalometer! At this point, your camera will begin firing off shot after shot - "click-clack! click-clack!" - and you are on your way to making your first timelapse! At this point, I usually kick back (with a beer if I'm in a remote spot) and hope for the best. ;)

Things get trickier if you are trying to shoot a sunset or any scene where the light conditions change rapidly during the sequence. I'll make a special post about that later.


Mon Apr 14, 2008 7:00 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
Great write up with lots of valuable information. You have answered so many questions for me.

Will you do a write up on a nighttime timelapse?


Tue Apr 15, 2008 9:10 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
can that TC80 be modified to work with an olympus e-500? are there other similar products like it?


Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:31 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
how did you pull off such smooth pans by the way?


Thu Apr 17, 2008 2:32 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
A perfect explanation of Canon shooting - Great effort Tom!!. I completely concur with everything!! the gems:

timescapes wrote:
This is where you have to start being careful and double checking stuff, or mistakes will happen.

I feel neurotic at times!! :lol: I need to develop a field checklist...

timescapes wrote:
Faster moving clouds, set 1-second intervals. Slow-moving clouds, try 3 seconds between frames. You don't want to set a really high interval time, like 10 or 20 seconds, or your timelapse will look very "choppy," stuttered, and sped up. Trial and error will lead you to know which interval is right for different types of shots.

so true.

timescapes wrote:
Do you have manual exposure settings (shutter speed, f/stop, white balance, etc)

again so true. In a few rare cases I've found that aperture priority will work but your tempting the dread flicker that no post will save...


Sun Apr 20, 2008 6:15 am

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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
nhojnhoj wrote:
can that TC80 be modified to work with an olympus e-500? are there other similar products like it?


I have no idea in practice, but.... all it does is send a pulse down the wire, nothing strange, the TC80 does all the rest of the work. If it's the same kind of pulse that the camera expects to get, then it should work...... if you can get one to try out then it should be safe to experiment..... all low voltage stuff.


Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:53 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
One thing for the guide Tom....

If you can, then setting the exposure time to be 50% of the frame interval will give you the "natural" 180 degree shutter look for motion blur. That may well need ND filters for a lot of setups.

For my post work stuff then shooting continuous 360 degree shutters gives you more options, but it depends a bit on what you intend to do with the footage as to whether it is worth it.....


Wed Apr 23, 2008 7:58 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
ColinSmith wrote:
nhojnhoj wrote:
can that TC80 be modified to work with an olympus e-500? are there other similar products like it?


I have no idea in practice, but.... all it does is send a pulse down the wire, nothing strange, the TC80 does all the rest of the work. If it's the same kind of pulse that the camera expects to get, then it should work...... if you can get one to try out then it should be safe to experiment..... all low voltage stuff.



thanks so much colin, ill pick on up and give it a shot!


Wed Apr 23, 2008 9:57 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
nhojnhoj wrote:
how did you pull off such smooth pans by the way?


I used to do the "pans" with AE, but now Adobe Premiere Pro CS3 seems to do a great job with "panning" across larger frames just using the simple scale and position functions in the default "effects" window. Probably best to use high-quality PSD files in your timeline instead of jpegs or whatever.

In theory you could do "pans" straight off of your RAW files in AE, which might turn out to be the highest quality possible. Long render times, though.


Wed Apr 23, 2008 2:08 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Additions to Tom's rock steady start-up tutorial.....

Take Spielberg's advice to an aspring director: "Wear comfortable shoes."

It also helps to develop low grade psychic abilty so you can see what's going to happen 42 mins. after you hit the 'go' button.


Mon Jun 23, 2008 4:39 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Two more details that might save you from a lot of grief:

1) Cover your viewfinder. Entering stray light may cause inconsistent metering and be a source of flicker.

2) Check the metering. If you also use your camera for still photography you are likely to switch to spot metering which could ruin your time lapse. Evaluative metering using the whole frame is usually the way to go.

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Fri Jul 11, 2008 2:35 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
One more tip:

Arrive early and do a short test time lapse, to make sure that your camera's software/memory/buffer can keep up with your imaging.

ie: If you're shooting a series of 2-second night-time exposures, and your camera is set to record at the highest possibly quality (or even set to record in RAW), then your camera gear may not be able to record as fast as your [intrav.... interv... instraval...] Automatic Programmable Shutter Release Cable is set. If this happens, then your shutter will not get released until your camera/memory/buffer is ready.

It happened to me while working on a fireworks display recently...

Otherwise, great write-up, Tom. Thanks.


Thu Jul 17, 2008 12:51 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Oh, that reminds me of one more piece of advice: If you are shooting in the field, prepare everything you possibly can for your timelapse setup in advance so that setting it up on location will be as fast and easy as possible. You may find yourself highly stressed by intense heat, blistering cold, mosquitoes, your lady waiting for you impatiently, your own impatience or you may be in a hurry to get it running before the show begins. It only takes one little error during setup to waste all your effort, so the simpler you make it for yourself the better.

And check and double check that you have everything you need before you leave. Realizing halfway during the setup that some cable is missing may lead to profuse cursing and loss of self-respect :evil:

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Thu Jul 17, 2008 7:49 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Timelapse Gear:

http://draygo.blogspot.com/2008/07/timelapse-gear.html

Barely a tutorial though.

Customizing Your Camera.

http://draygo.blogspot.com/2008/07/customizing-your-camera.html

These are mostly not new ideas, but they are to those just starting out.


Tue Jul 22, 2008 8:14 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Tom,
Nice tutorial.

How are you pulling off such fast 1-3 sec intervals with a Canon Rebel? I suspect you're using low to medium resolution image quality settings to keep your buffer from filling...

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Tue Sep 16, 2008 7:31 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Kurt wrote:
Tom,
Nice tutorial.

How are you pulling off such fast 1-3 sec intervals with a Canon Rebel? I suspect you're using low to medium resolution image quality settings to keep your buffer from filling...


I can shoot 2s intervals RAW, but for 1fps, I use JPEG.

Interestingly, I was shooting with a friend this week who has a 400D. We both had similar shots set up, both using 2s intervals. A few shots into the timelapse, he noticed that his 400D could not write to the card fast enough for 2s. My guess was that the 400D had similar inner-workings to a 350D, but simply had more resolution, making it harder to write quickly to a CF card. I have no idea if that is why, though. It's just a random guess.


Fri Oct 03, 2008 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Hi there,

Thank you very much for this wonderful forum/post/tutorial with all the information Ive been looking for on the net for months and months!
I'll introduce myself in a few minutes in the introduction forum but first I have a small newbe-question; I have a D200 with a CF Extreme III 4Gb and I noticed that if I just shoot in 1 second exposure -bursts at night, the buffer gets filled up after about 100 photos (small JPEG).
Will I have this same problem when I use the MC-36 remote? In other words; when using this remote will it fill up my buffer, preventing me from shooting more then 100 photos, or will it write the files constantly to the CF card so the buffer will never be filled?

I want to fix my camera in my car and start shooting while driving at night. And since I was thinking about taking 1 second shots as fast as possible I figure 100 shots wont do me good.

Anyway, hope I posted this in the right thread. If not dont be angry at me! Im just a newbe! ;)

Thanks,
Christiaan


Thu Oct 09, 2008 3:01 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
I would test this in the comfort of your home before hitting the road. I hate to have part of a sequence shooting at the desired frequency and then a later part at a mixed interval (e.g. 1st half 1pic/8sec for 100 frames then errors causing a 1 out of 3 to shoot at 1/16sec. I'm using a remote controller so it basically keeps doing a countdown regardless of whether the camera fires or not. If it doesn't fire when intended it restarts the countdown and typically fires the next try.

I'll be interested to see what other people say but I am not sure how an external source will solve your problem. I beleive the buffer speed relates to conversions and storage. The processors can only do this at a certain speed. You'll just be storing to a remote location instead of to a flashcard. Now if another card, etc. can help you store the data faster then it might work. Again, I would put the camera on a tripod and have it shoot 100+ pics in your living room. You can then look at the counts per unit time or the time stamps (preferences) of the pictures/files to see if you have errors.

My camera actually shoots RAW files faster then large JPGs because of the added compression step (I beleive). I wonder if you can set your camera to take low resolution Raw files if that would help.

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Fri Oct 10, 2008 11:55 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
I'd love to see a discussion somewhere of perhaps the most important issue: metering/exposure mode. Seems to most difficult decision to make for those, like me, who lack experience (and crystal ball reading skills).

Manual or automatic (Tv,Av), and how/criteria to decide? A cloudless sky - manual. An approaching thunderstorm - automatic. Any words from the wise?

My first timelapse - being in a puritanical mood I chose to use Manual mode - a mistake. Had to manually change exposure several times to keep up with the light levels.


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Fri Jan 16, 2009 5:33 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
For now, which way to go about it (manual or automatic exposure) depends on the situation and personal taste. I almost always use my cameras in automatic mode, hoping most if not all of the resulting flicker can be eliminated in post. For those cases where it can't I know it will be possible in a not too distant future. I can see three possible solutions to the problems with automatic exposure settings:

1) Better deflicker software. Current deflicker solutions only analyze the image data and for some reason cannot handle some exposure jumps. In some cases fiddling around with settings will solve the problems, other times it appears to be plain impossible. Something that might help significantly is pre-filtering an image sequence based on EXIF data, smoothing out jumps in exposure which will ease the job for the image analysis based deflickers. It is not a perfect solution that will work 100% in all cases, but at least for my own footage I know that it would make a big improvement (having eliminated flicker by manually smoothing out exposure steps which is a pain!).

2) Hardware hacks. Shutterdrone has been working on a setup with a remote cable release hooked up to a light meter. It complicates the setup some and isn't foolproof either, but surely a solution that the DIY people can appreciate (and from what I've seen, you belong to that category :-)). Thread is here.

3) Improved cameras. Time lapse photography is a growing field, and one day manufacturers may actually start taking us into account (such as by implementing in-camera interval timers without #@!!! 99 or 999 shot limits - how hard can it be to give us an extra digit or two?!?). On shorter term the hope is that the move to video capable DSLRs may lead to elimination of the coarse exposure steps; the implementations seen so far do not help but are also in dire need of improvement.

I did a run at # 1, trying to write a script to smooth out exposure steps. Unfortunately, the one method I could find for exposure adjustment was way poor (multiplying the image data by a factor). It *could* be done via a Photoshop script which gives access to much better methods for exposure adjustments. Unfortunately I have no experience with Photoshop scripts and don't have the time to investigate it currently. But perhaps it is a function we will see in future versions of Photoshop or other software for that matter.

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Fri Jan 16, 2009 6:58 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
flyvholm wrote:
I can see three possible solutions to the problems with automatic exposure settings:


and the fourth method which has it's stop limitations and build difficulties is the physical stopping down/up of light


Sat Jan 17, 2009 7:53 am

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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
timescapes wrote:
Things get trickier if you are trying to shoot a sunset or any scene where the light conditions change rapidly during the sequence. I'll make a special post about that later.


Oh, i´m waiting for thw follow up post. Need some tips on how to handle dark to light shooting.. :-)

Steve


Fri Feb 12, 2010 2:25 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
stevenilsen wrote:
timescapes wrote:
Things get trickier if you are trying to shoot a sunset or any scene where the light conditions change rapidly during the sequence. I'll make a special post about that later.


Oh, i´m waiting for thw follow up post. Need some tips on how to handle dark to light shooting.. :-)

Steve



Good morning Steve. There is an extensive thread under "Little Bramper" in the intervelometer subsection of Timelapse Cameras & Equipment: viewtopic.php?f=28&t=1893

Hope it helps...
Pb

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Fri Jul 23, 2010 9:26 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
ColinSmith wrote:
nhojnhoj wrote:
can that TC80 be modified to work with an olympus e-500? are there other similar products like it?


I have no idea in practice, but.... all it does is send a pulse down the wire, nothing strange, the TC80 does all the rest of the work. If it's the same kind of pulse that the camera expects to get, then it should work...... if you can get one to try out then it should be safe to experiment..... all low voltage stuff.


It's actually a bit simpler and safer than even that. It turns out that the remote doesn't send any pulse at all. (Think about the battery-less basic trigger, for example.)

All the remote does is complete a circuit. There's 3 pins there for the remote. One is the ground, one is for focus (shutter half-press), and the other is for tripping the shutter (full press of the shutter).

For some more detailed documentation about which pin is which, click here.

If you have a Canon camera, you can experiment with connecting the different pins in there with a key, paper clip, or flathead screwdriver. Just stick it into the port on the side of the camera (being careful not to bend anything), trying different combinations of pin connections, and watch the camera do its thing.

The remote doesn't have to send any electricity into the camera at all. All it does is complete a circuit by creating a connection between pins.

If you hack up a Canon remote, you'll find that inside there's only 3 wires running through the cable, each wire naturally corresponding to the 3 pins in the Canon bodies.

I'm not sure how Olympus handles remote triggering, but if it's also done with this same sort of 3-pin system, you can get yourself an Olympus remote, and splice the tip of the Olympus remote to the controller of a Canon timer remote and effectively create for yourself an Olympus timer remote. :)

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Sat Jul 31, 2010 8:57 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Thanks for this wonderful guide, Tom. It's really helpful as I dive into this.

Quick question re: 24fps vs. 30fps.

Other than playback speed, is there a big difference? My expected output medium is youtube/vimeo and I'd like to get my realtime video synced up with my timelapse footage so I'd like to be consistent when choosing framerate.

What do you guys suggest? 24 or 30?

Also, more specifically in Sony Vegas I see options for 23.976 and 24, 29.970 and 30fps. Any recommendations?

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Sun Aug 01, 2010 2:30 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
24 or 30 is largely an aesthetic choice...but if you have a lot of 30 fps then go for that. (personally I much prefer 24, and shoot video at that too)

when I say 24 I really mean 23.976 - this is almost always the case - the exception it for people outputting to film - then you need actual 24 fps - but that's pretty high end stuff.

all video tape is at 29.976 typically referred to as 30 fps - has to do with backwards compatibility when tv sets went to color back in the '60s.

Some 3d programs, motion graphics, the canon 5D, and a few others put out actual 30 fps - kind of odd, but it divides into 15 fps for web viewing nicely.


Sun Aug 01, 2010 3:30 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
very good experience to share with us ,thank you so much !
I really like your shooting ,and as a beginner how about canon 550d at the point of shooting moives
and when you use the 1080 format how long time your canon 5d can be used one times ,especially shooting all the day ,how do you do that ?how many bateries for one days
and I want to buy what I want !
thank you again !


Thu Sep 09, 2010 6:02 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Thank you for your post ! It's extremely helpful as I am a beginner and every bit of info helps!


Ok so enlighten me if you will !
When shooting time-lapse can you use RAW or only jpeg?
And what is the best work flow for using HDR,tone mapping , E.g.

And after I have shoot my time-lapse what is the next step?

I have a MacBook pro with Photomatix ,CS5 ,Quicktime player 7,and whole lot of other programs.
Just want to make sure I'm doing it right and not spinning my wheels!

Yes I know lots of questions! :)

R


Tue Feb 22, 2011 8:21 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
timescapes wrote:
These are some basic guidelines and tips for shooting timelapses on your digital SLR camera. I happen to use the Canon 350D (Rebel XT) camera, so I will use that as the basis for these tips. Specific information about how to make other cameras (Nikons, etc) work is not something I know about. But hopefully the general information contained here will help.


• Equipment you need.

Image

A Digital SLR camera (shown with vertical battery grip). Probably an entry-level "crop" sensor camera is best for beginners.

Lens. Preferably one that is wide-angle and easy to set to infinity. I use the Canon 10-22mm, and love it. But even a kit lens can get great results.

Image

Intervalometer. This is the small unit that controls your camera during timelapse. Without it, most cameras cannot shoot timelapse at all. On Ebay just search for "remote timer _____" with the blank spot being your type of camera -- Canon 5D, Nikon D3, etc. On Ebay you can get a knockoff the Canon TC80-N3 for about 1/3 the price that Canon charges. I can personally recommend LinkDelight's Aputure brand of remote timers (intervalomters). I use one and it seems to work great.

Image

Tripod. The taller, heavier, and sturdier the better. You don't need an expensive, light carbon-fiber tripod... they will result in shaky timelapses. If you need to use a light tripod, make sure to weigh it down with some bricks or rocks or those sandbags sold in camera stores. Also, having a tall tripod works out well, because you get a higher vantage point for your wide shots, plus you don't have to crouch down and hunch over to see through your viewfinder or mess with the LCD menu. A tripod that can raise at least as high as your chest is ideal. I use the Slik Pro 700DX.

Battery grip. Extra batteries. AC adapter. Inverter for your car. The first thing to get is a vertical battery grip extender. Timelapses, especially at night, drain batteries like crazy. But with the grip, you can shoot twice as long. If you plan to shoot in remote locations, you might want to get an inverter in your car's cigarette lighter. You can pick these up at Radio Shack, and they plug into your cigarette lighter. 125-watt is more than enough. You can use the inverter to charge your camera batteries, laptop, cell phone, ipod, flashlights, etc, while you are out in the field. You can also power your camera with an AC adapter that plugs right into your battery grip. I actually own 3 or 4 inverters, and I use them bigtime when shooting and camping.


• How to shoot.

Now that you have your equipment ready, it's time to shoot. Start off with something simple, maybe a scene in your neighborhood or at a park during the day. Set up your tripod, find your frame, then bust out your intervalometer and secure it to your tripod (I use a velcro strap to keep my TC80 from flapping in the wind).

This is where you have to start being careful and double checking stuff, or mistakes will happen.

Load 2 fresh batteries into the battery grip. Are they fully charged? Double check.

Once you have your subject and frame chosen, bring up your menu.

Format your CF card. If you are shooting RAW, you will need a 2GB card for roughly a 10-second timelapse (240 frames). My 4GB cards usually give me about 460 frames, which is just short of a 20-second timelapse (assuming 24 frames per second playback). If you are shooting JPEG, you might be able to get up 1000 images on a 4GB card. Maybe more. An 8GB card can handle roughly 700-900 RAW frames, more than enough for nearly any shoot. Of course, your camera's resolution will factor in.

Once your CF card is formatted, make sure your white balance is set to a custom level. Never, ever use Auto White Balance, or the camera will change color temps in the middle of your sequence, which completely destroys your timelapse.

Now, double check to make sure your lens is set to manual and the shot is in focus. If you leave the lens on autofocus, every bird or cloud that flies by will cause your lens to seek focus again, totally ruining your timelapse. Haha, I had nice shots destroyed this way... twice!

Okay, your batteries are fully charged, your CF card is blank and ready to go, your white balance is NOT set to auto, and your lens is focused and set to MANUAL. Fire off a couple test shots to make sure the exposure and framing are good on your LCD.

Now it's time to set your intervalometer. The TC80 and most similar devices have several modes, including interval, bulb duration, number of exposures, and a delayed start. The most important is interval. If you are shooting clouds in the daylight, you probably want to have your shutter fire about once every 1 to 3 seconds (shooting RAW, you might have to stick with 2-3 seconds, as many DSLRs have trouble shooting RAW at 1fps or faster). These short interval times will give a smooth motion to the clouds. For faster-moving clouds, set 1-second intervals. Slow-moving clouds, try 3 seconds between frames. You don't want to set a really high interval time, like 10 or 20 seconds, or your timelapse will look very "choppy," stuttered, and sped up. Trial and error will lead you to know which interval is right for different types of shots. A movie/timelapse clip usually runs at 24 frames per second (24p), so a good rule of thumb is that 240 photos will produce a 10-second timelapse when you stream them together in Final Cut, Premiere Pro, or whatever video editing system (NLE) you use. At 30fps, 300 shots are needed for 10 seconds of video.

Now check your shot one last time. Do you have manual exposure settings (shutter speed, f/stop, white balance, etc) and a good interval time (usually between 2 and 6 seconds)? Check your lens for dust one last time (one speck of dust can ruin a whole timelapse because they cannot easily be "painted out" across 200-300 frames), then take a deep breath and press START on the intervalometer! At this point, your camera will begin firing off shot after shot - "click-clack! click-clack!" - and you are on your way to making your first timelapse! At this point, I usually kick back (with a beer if I'm in a remote spot) and hope for the best. ;)

Things get trickier if you are trying to shoot a sunset or any scene where the light conditions change rapidly during the sequence. I'll make a special post about that later.



This really helps me, specially I'm beginner in shooting, thanks.


Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:54 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Flyvholm: "Check the metering. If you also use your camera for still photography you are likely to switch to spot metering which could ruin your time lapse. Evaluative metering using the whole frame is usually the way to go."

That depends on the particular scene and what you're trying to acheive. When doing time lapse of the movement of shadows sweeping across a forest floor etc, I usually prefer to have the shadows record as pure black. In that case, a spot meter (or zooming in to take a reading) from the sunlit areas is usually my approach.

However, there was an occasion when I was doing t.l. of a rough sea during a slightly gloomy day and I used the whole frame for metering - got good detail in both the water and the clouds.


Sun May 15, 2011 1:08 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
ColinSmith wrote:
One thing for the guide Tom....

If you can, then setting the exposure time to be 50% of the frame interval will give you the "natural" 180 degree shutter look for motion blur. That may well need ND filters for a lot of setups.

For my post work stuff then shooting continuous 360 degree shutters gives you more options, but it depends a bit on what you intend to do with the footage as to whether it is worth it.....


Just making sure I've got my head around this.

So given that most people say 3 or so seconds for an interval of moving clouds for example that would mean you'd throw an ND filter on, expose for 3 seconds with a 6 second interval? 3 seconds being eaten up by your actual exposure and then 3 seconds between shots?

A 5 second exposure of stars at night would mean a 10 second interval and so on and so forth??

Would slightly shortening the interval keep things smooth or is the 180 degree shutter theory (had to get a friend who went to film school to explain this to me) the best to run with?


Fri Jun 03, 2011 10:42 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
It really depends on what you want for a final result style-wise.
Practice and see what look you like. A lot of the time a regular exposure works fine if movement is not too large.
For a silky smooth look, basically go for continuous long exposures as fast as your buffer can handle them.

The clouds in this clip @0.50 were continuous 5 second long exposures back to back (mostly to smooth out the water).
The clouds with the statue at the end @1.15 were about 1/60th every 5 seconds.
http://www.vimeo.com/15937985

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Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:24 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DLSR Timelapse
Anthony has it straight:

http://vimeo.com/23755102

This is an example of 1/1000 (I didn't have my filter kit with me) with a 5-6 second pause. What is also important to consider is rate of change across the frame, and here I have clouds moving in 3 different directions at multiple distances (close to far). If I had shot this at a 3-5 sec exposure, it would have blurred too much for me. So if you want high detail, it my blur too much with longer than 0.5sec. You need to remember the shot depends on the direction the object is moving, how sharp you want it to be, and how much time (how long/# of frames) you want to/or can shoot.


sledgy wrote:
ColinSmith wrote:
One thing for the guide Tom....

If you can, then setting the exposure time to be 50% of the frame interval will give you the "natural" 180 degree shutter look for motion blur. That may well need ND filters for a lot of setups.

For my post work stuff then shooting continuous 360 degree shutters gives you more options, but it depends a bit on what you intend to do with the footage as to whether it is worth it.....


Just making sure I've got my head around this.

So given that most people say 3 or so seconds for an interval of moving clouds for example that would mean you'd throw an ND filter on, expose for 3 seconds with a 6 second interval? 3 seconds being eaten up by your actual exposure and then 3 seconds between shots?

A 5 second exposure of stars at night would mean a 10 second interval and so on and so forth??

Would slightly shortening the interval keep things smooth or is the 180 degree shutter theory (had to get a friend who went to film school to explain this to me) the best to run with?

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Sat Jun 04, 2011 10:57 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
For what I can tell the 180 degree shutter rule stems from shooting 24fps video on film. Then it translates to using a ~1/50 sec exposure time. For video you don't want a much shorter exposure time because fast moving objects will then skip a little from frame to frame so you risk not getting a smooth, fluent look to the video. On the other hand you don't want a much longer exposure time either because moving objects get too blurry. So it's a rule of thumb that gives a good compromise that cinematographers prefer.

However, timelapse is by definition different from video, and in my opinion the 180 degree shutter rule simply doesn't apply. What shutter speed and interval works depends entirely on subject, circumstances and the particular look/effect you are trying to obtain. Of course it's still desirable to maintain a fluent look to the footage, and for that you either need a sufficiently short interval that subjects don't move much from frame to frame, or you need the exposure to last a good part of the shot interval to blur out motion. But when it comes to what a "good part" should be I don't see anything magical about 50% - other than if you're specifically going for a classic film look.

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Sat Jun 04, 2011 5:21 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Antz wrote:
The clouds in this clip @0.50 were continuous 5 second long exposures back to back (mostly to smooth out the water).
The clouds with the statue at the end @1.15 were about 1/60th every 5 seconds.




Hmm ok. It's good to be able to see the two side by side like that so you can see the differences. I would have assumed that a relatively short exposure, especially in BerthaDUniverse's 1/1000th example would have made the action a lot more stop-motionesque but then I suppose this also depends on the speed in which things are moving too as these all turned out quite smoothly in my opinion. Although there is something cool about that silky smooth transition like Antz's 5 second exposures that I will never get bored of.

Edit: Thankfully the D3s has a fairly large buffer so I look forward to trying some of those silky smooth shots myself in the very near future.

Thanks for the tips.


Sun Jun 05, 2011 4:23 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
flyvholm wrote:
However, timelapse is by definition different from video, and in my opinion the 180 degree shutter rule simply doesn't apply.

You're not the only one of that opinion.

I often shoot clouds with a 3 second exposure at 4 second intevals (interval between the start of each frame being shot, that is, so there's a 1 second gap after the shutter closes on one exposure, and starts on the next).

Generally, anything I shoot that has a starting inverval of 2 seconds or higher, my exposure is generally that interval minus 1 second (in order to provide time for the mechanical systems of the camera to do their thing, and to save out the image), which means that when played back, it misses as little of the "action" as possible.

Buffer size isn't all *that* important, as if you shoot too quickly, you will eventually fill it up. I tried shooting some stuff with 1 second intervals on the D300s, and it did fairly well for a good number of exposures in the sequence, but it eventually started to lag as it tried to clear them up (resulting in only a couple of seconds of usable footage - not enough). Shooting with 2 second intervals between the starting times of each shot, gave it plenty of time to write out and it didn't eat away into the buffer.

You need to make sure you're using the fastest possible cards with your camera for this reason too if you want to shoot at shorter intervals. I use Sandisk Extreme 60MB/sec cards with my D300s, which works out that the D300s writes out at about 35MB/sec (pretty much its limit).

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Sun Jun 05, 2011 6:04 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
From your first post:
timescapes wrote:
Things get trickier if you are trying to shoot a sunset or any scene where the light conditions change rapidly during the sequence. I'll make a special post about that later.


Did you do that post yet, since this tutorial was very helpful? Thanks for it:)


Mon Sep 19, 2011 6:04 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Thanks for the info. This topic got me on track doing a bit of sunset time-lapse. Tried it out last week and it went great!


Fri Oct 28, 2011 1:31 am
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Hi, The tutorial was great and ive made my own timelapse so if you would like to check it out its here:D http://www.youtube.com/user/Mrcrazymonk ... ature=mhee


Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:50 pm
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Post Re: Shooting Daylight/Regular Exposure DSLR Timelapse
Hi All...
I have watched video's on youtube etc where Photographers have insisted on Manual exposure from the start (Even in Daylight) But tonight I watched a video on Vimeo, saying to choose AV and let the camera decide the exposure.
I shot a small time-Lapse the other day, where by I shot clouds moving within a blue sky (I shot everything in Manual) which resulted in some flicker when the clouds covered the sun etc.
So what is you guys advice on what mode to shoot in at daytime with clouds and blue skys?


Fri May 04, 2012 3:50 pm
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