This is part 3 of a series on timelapse photography.
Let’s review some of the most important gear you can use with timelapse photography. This is the bare bones needs that won’t set you back a lot of money.
- Tripod. The very first thing, you need is a rock solid platform. Now, in a pinch you might cradle your camera and set it on rock, but a far better choice is a real tripod. Now, by real I mean, get the best tripod you can afford. You want something solid. Not the rickety thing that you get at a big box electronic store. With time-lapse there is no panning or tilting when shooting. So a high quality fluid head is not needed. You only need a solid platform with great locks to execute. Make sure it’s beefy enough to not be influenced by wind, bumps, or other movement. You can also weight it down with sand bags, or tie downs.
- Intervalometer. Once you’re ready to start shooting, you need to set the interval. This is how often your camera takes a picture. Some cameras have a basic intervalometer built in. Others require you to use an external one. One of my favorites is TriggerTrap which works with most cameras and smartphones. These external ones tend to give you the best results as they are often full-featured. Also be sure to keep some extra batteries with you, because If the battery in the intervalometer goes dead, the shot’s going to stop.
- Variable Neutral Density Filter. This is a useful tool to allow you to slow down the shutter speed. This is great for really stretching out movement like waves or clouds, or adding streaks to moving people.
- Weather gear. Rain covers and dust covers are the first line of defense. You may also consider a housing is constructed to protect against the elements for long term installs. These can get quite sophisticated, with an internal intervalometer that can be programmed for specified times and even solar panels to recharge the batteries.If you’re outdoors and shooting over a period of extreme temperature and humidity changes, pack the inside with plenty of silica gel to absorb the moisture and condensation.
- Spare Body. Many pros swear by keeping a second (and even a third) camera body with them. If you have a spare camera body, use it! The sun only rises (or sets) once a day. Extra bodies mean extra coverage.
- Long life battery sources. Depending on the duration of your record time, you may run out of power with the standard in-camera batteries. You can’t swap batteries because that will cause the camera to move.A subtle change in framing from a bumped camera will quickly destroy the illusion. Consider a grip or even a wall adapter.
- High-speed memory cards. If you’re chugging away at 1 fps on the intervalometer, you won’t want your camera to lock up. If you hear inconsistencies in the shutter, recording, there’s a good chance your card is too slow. Variation in the record time means that the playback speed will seem erratic once the time-lapse is assembled. Make sure the cards are high capacity. Having to switch out a card can cause unwanted gaps or vibration for the camera as well.
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Rich has published over 100 courses on Lynda.com. Rich has authored several books including From Still to Motion, Understanding Photoshop, Professional Web Video, and Creating DSLR Video.
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