Timelapse Quick Start Guide

Looking for a quick go-to guide for shooting a time-lapse? This section will walk you through how to shoot a time-lapse in a step-by-step manner. For an extensive look at how to shoot a time-lapse, check out the Extensive Raw Time-lapse Tutorial homepage.

  1. Ensure your camera is mounted to a stable tripod or slider configuration.
  2. Ensure your lens and sensor are clean.
  3. Set lens to manual focus and turn off the image stabilizer if you are on a tripod. Ensure that live view is activated. Focus lens using +/- button on subject matter. If you are shooting at night, use exposure simulation and shine a flashlight on your subject. Another option is to activate auto focus, set your focus point and then turn off the auto-focus. If setting to infinity, you will want to test out your lens to find it’s sweet spot.
  4. Set your camera to manual mode (for more information please click here and scroll down to the Camera Settings/Modes: Understanding the Basic Functions of a DSLR section).
  5. Ensure white balance is set to manual.
  6. Shoot full size raw images and small jpeg’s for reference.
  7. Ensure that your camera is set to auto reset file number so when you format your card it resets the file numbers
  8. Determine what you want your aperture to be. If you want to achieve the ‘star’ effect when shooting into the sun, you will want to stop down your lens. Keep in mind that you will introduce flicker if you do this. If shooting astro time-lapses, you will want to shoot wide open.
  9. Set ISO – usually under 6400 (Depends on camera used).
  10. Set desired shutter speed for the effect you want (motion blur or not). Usually I wouldn’t recommend a faster shutter than 1/100 of a second as you will start to see more flicker (less chance of being able to blend changes in light). Keep in mind the shutter speed has to be faster than the interval unless in bulb mode which will dictate how long the shutter is open. You may want to use a ND or polarizer filter to be able to drag your exposure.
  11. Zero out the intervalometer in all modes and then set the delay mode to desired time. If you are in bulb mode, you will want to set the ‘long’ option to the desired exposure time. Typically I try take as many photos as possible and then speed up in post if necessary (unless doing a full day time-lapse). It is easier to speed up that to interpolate frames if not enough photos were taken. A good starting point is one frame every three seconds.
  12. Format your card (after making sure all assets on the card are backed up).
  13. Start a test shot for about 10 frames and review to see if everything is as you desire. Scan all areas of the frame to ensure there is no element in the frame that does not belong. Then scroll through the images to view a quick preview of your time-lapse.
  14. Double check exposure. (I usually underexpose one or two steps).
  15. Format your card again.
  16. Make sure your batteries are fully charged.
  17. Start recording your time-lapse.