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How to Create a Timelapse Video Using Your Digital SLR Camera

The above timelapse video was shot using a Canon EOS 5D Mark II digital SLR camera with a Canon EF 24-105mm f/4L IS USM lens. It is made up of 99 individual shots that were spaced 5 seconds apart, and sequenced all together to make one timelapse video. The key to the success of making this video was the use of an intervalometer to remotely control the timing of the shots.  There are many intervalometers on the market, and most camera manufacturers have their own, but companies like Nikon and Canon charge over $150. We have found, and sell, a cheaper alternative, and they work great. Plus, they only cost $48.50:

Remote Intervalometer

Click picture to purchase intervalometer

If you are still wondering how this works, we'll tell you. The first thing is to set up your camera on a tripod, a table, or anywhere where the camera will not move. Then, figure out the exposure and focus you want using the camera's manual (M) settings, so that the exposure and focus won't change as you're taking the sequence of pictures. Simply plug the intervalometer into the remote control port on the side of your camera. This is the same port that is used for a remote shutter release. Once the intervalometer is plugged into the camera, you can actually start using it as a remote shutter release. Simply press the center button and it will trigger the camera to take a picture.

Now, you could sit there and remotely trigger your camera manually every so many seconds, but that would quickly get old and your timing would probably not be very consistent. Plus, it defeats the purpose of having an intervalometer. So, set up your intervalometer:

  1. Set the initial delay (how many seconds before the first picture is taken)
  2. Set the shutter delay (only necessary if using bulb, controls how many seconds the shutter is open)
  3. Set the interval delay (how many seconds in between shots)
  4. Set the interval number (how many shots to be taken)
  5. Press start and watch the magic happen

Once your intervalometer is going you will probably have to wait for a while, so now would be a good time to get a drink. The above video took a little over 8 minutes to shoot, which actually wasn't so bad. Really cool timelapse videos will be done over several hours.

Now, once all of the shots have been completed, you aren't done yet, but almost. The final step is to load all of your timelapse pictures on to your computer so that you may compile them into a single video file. For the above video we used Quicktime Pro, and it made things really simple. With Quicktime Pro you simply go to File > Open Image Sequence . . . and choose the first file of the sequence. As long as the files are numbered consecutively Quicktime will automatically be able to compile them into a single video without any more input from you. Then, from there, watch the video. And, you can export the video file for the web or whatever else you want, so the world can see your hard work. There are also a host of other software available that will be able to do the same thing, so choose whatever you like. The best part about timelapse is trying out different subjects and circumstances, so get creative.

Looking for an intervalometer for your digital SLR camera? Find one here.

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