Time-lapse with the Canon 5D Mkii

After picking up a Canon 5D or any DSLR you might notice there is no built in camera controls for shooting timelapse. Being new to timelapse photography this was quite a quandry. So here is what I came up with.

Canon provides you with a tool for shooting continues still images with it’s EOS Utility. Another method for shooting timelapse without having to lug around your laptop is to use a intervalometer. These plug into your camera and have built in remote shooting and timer functions.

These techniques of course work with almost all the Canon DSLRs that I know of. Including the newer Canon 5Dmkiii, as well as the Rebel T series and the 60D and 7D.

Now that this post is over three years old now I’ve decided to update it with some interesting information. First off I recently Installed a camera hack in my 5Dmkii called Magic Lantern. Although I have not tested it yet there is a built in Intervalometer. I thought that was super cool. It also has various modes that will automatically adjust the exposures for sunrises and sunsets. Installing this firmware in your camera requires a bit of ‘knowing what you’re doing.’ but the features it offers is very cool. And it’s free. I’ll test it out soon. It also allows you to expand your HDR capabilities 10 fold.

For the most part I’ve still been using my intervalometer that you can find below. I bought a cheap one that’s work great. My only complaint is there is no built in light, so you have to take a flashlight with you. Or iphone.

I’ve also seen a few iPhone apps and cables that allow you to control your cameras shutter this way. Looks cool. I haven’t tested it since it’s also around $30 bucks and my intervalometer works fine. I’ve also had a hard time finding any with great reviews.

I’ll do a full write up on the Magic Lantern intervalometer as soon as I get a chance to really test it out. Just follow me on twitter or google+ and I’ll eventually post it there. Or keep checking back here.

Here Is A List Of Shutter Remotes I Recommend

A few good ones are the TR-A Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon (Amazon) (which I personally use), Cowboystudio Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon (Amazon) and Digital Timer Remote For Canon (Amazon). You can pick them up for around $20 or $60 through amazon, the canon of course is more expensive but superior quality. They work great and will be absolutely essential for very long time-lapses since most laptop batteries will only last a few hours.

Using Canon EOS Utility

The other option mentioned was the use of the Canon EOS Utility. It has a pretty simple function that lets you set the number of frames and the time between shots. You just have to tether you camera to your computer to use it.

You can access this function by pressing the Stop watch button. From there it’s pretty straight forward.
Now once you begin to shoot time-lapse I recommend using all manual exposure settings to prevent the exposure from changing from shot to shot. If however you need some dynamic range you can shoot in raw to allow you to adjust your exposures in post.
The program I like for my time-lapse has been is After Effects. If you have it, and know how to use it, it’s the best. All you really need to do is import the folder then export it out to whatever format you need.
If you’re looking for a more detailed guide on how to shot time-lapse you might want to check out Philips Bloom’s Timelapse Basics.