After picking up a Canon 5D or any DSLR you might notice there are no built-in camera controls for shooting timelapse. Being new to timelapse photography this was quite a quandary. So here is what I came up with.
Canon provides you with a tool for shooting continuous still images with its EOS Utility. Another method for shooting timelapse without having to lug around your laptop is to use an 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 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 automatically adjust the sunrise and sunset exposures. Installing this firmware in your camera requires a bit of ‘knowing what you’re doing.’ but the features it offers are 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 which you can find below. I bought a cheap one that works 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 camera shutter this way. Looks cool.
I’ll do a full write-up on the Magic Lantern intervalometer as soon as I get a chance to test it out. Just follow me on Twitter 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 use), Cowboystudio Timer Remote Control Shutter for Canon Amazon, and Digital Timer Remote For Canon Amazon. The canon, of course, is more expensive but of superior quality. They work great and will be 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 your camera to your computer to use it.
You can access this function by pressing the Stop Watch button. From there it’s pretty straightforward.
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 in After Effects. If you have it, and know how to use it, it’s the best. All you need to do is import the folder and then export it to whatever format you need.
If you’re looking for a more detailed guide on how to shoot time-lapse you might want to check out Philips Bloom’s Timelapse Basics.
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