One of the challenges you need to overcome when shooting is determining the ideal setting for your camera. In this post, I will walk you through the basic functions of a DSLR. I will also be asking a few questions that will help guide you towards the perfect settings for your given scenario.
RAW vs JPEG
Focus & Zoom
White Balance & ISO
- Set lens to manual focus
- Put lens hood on to prevent lens flares
- Disable IS on lens if using a tripod
- Set camera to Manual Mode for intervals of 2 seconds or less. Bulb if greater than 2 seconds. Rule is to do around 30 seconds in long mode at 2 seconds in interval mode for astro (long mode is for long exposure)
- Use Manual Mode at all times other than when in Bulb mode. If you have to use AV or TV modes, make sure you are set to evaluative metering – Preferably use AV mode as TV causes more flicker
- Focus Lens using (+) button on Primary Subject (use a flashlight or laser to shine on subject to lock in focus at night)
- White Balance Set to Manual and don’t Change Throughout the Timelapse!!! (Auto White Balance makes it impossible to color correct unless you are filming in rapidly changing lighting conditions)
- Set to RAW!!! – Unless you are doing a quick and dirty timelapse and then you can shoot SRAW or JPEG
- Auto-reset file number so when you format your card it resets the count to 1 (helps in post-production)
- Set F-Stop/Aperture to around F3.2 or F4 to avoid flicker and for a sharper image. Set to wide open or 2.8 for astro or for a DOF effect.
ISO not to exceed 3200 on a 5DMKII
- Set desired shutter speed for the effect you want (motion blur or not) 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
- Set camera to Live View to determine your framing, exposure and focus using the zoom button – Set to exposure simulation (not movie mode) so that you can adjust the shutter slower than 1/24th
- Keep camera in Live View the whole timelapse so the mirror will stay locked up. Drains more battery but less headache than using mirror lockup which requires you to calculate the intervals differently since the first interval rotation will lock the mirror up and the second interval rotation will take the picture calculating the intervals. Important for the mirror to be locked up to avoid it from causing blur in a long exposure
- Zero out the intervalometer in all modes and then set the interval mode to desired time. (bulb is 2 seconds interval / 30 seconds in long mode for Astro shots) otherwise just set the interval only if using Manual mode
- Start a test Record for about 5-10 shots and review it using the wheel on the back to get a quick preview of the shots in succession
- Double check framing, focus and or exposure one last time if needed
- Format CF Card to get rid of all the test shots
- Make sure batteries are still fully charged
- Start recording the final time lapse
- Come back in 8-12 hours (if doing an astro shot) and pray that you nailed the shot!
One of the challenges you need to overcome when shooting a timelapse is determining the ideal setting for your camera. Out of all the questions that I get, the most common are what F-STOP (APERTURE), SHUTTER and INTERVAL (DELAY) to use. In this post, I will first walk you through how to setup your camera and then will follow with the 7 questions that you will want to ask yourself before heading out to shoot. Although not foolproof, these questions will help get you close to the settings you will need to use in your given situation.
What are you shooting?
When are you shooting?
What role is the shot playing in your final piece?
Why do you want to shoot the shot as a time-lapse?
What style of shot do you want to accomplish?
How do you want to capture the shot?
How long are you able to be at the location?
Once you have mastered static time-lapses, the next thing to add to your repertoire is the ability to shoot motion controlled time-lapses. Like static time-lapses, it is key to think of each frame as a unique image. At any point in your shot, you should be able to pull out a frame and be proud of it. The biggest different between static and motion controlled time-lapses is that you are using movement to help tell your story. When approaching these shots, you will want to inspect the shot and then determine the best way to capture the motion and before you can do this, there are a few things you need to consider.
Composition & Movement
Shoot Move Shoot vs Continuous
Analog vs Digital
One Axis (Slider)
Three Axis (Slider, Pan & Tilt)
Multi Axis (Slider, Focus, Iris, Zoom, Pan, Tilt & More)