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Time lapse photography

3153 Views 19 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Done_Fishin
I have recently been bitten by the concept of Time Lapse photography using a still camera.

The general concept is to set up a camera on a tripod and take a sequence of photographs at a set timing interval and then play them back as a movie.

The main problem is taking hundreds of images without disturbing the camera and having to keep looking at a watch! After a wee but f research on the net, I came up with several solutions implementing an electronic timer (Intervalometer) to do it with....

So, if anyone is interested in having a go at Time Lapse here is the simple and cheap circuit that I developed. It utilises a bog standard 555 timer chip and a few simple components. (In reality, I used a 7555 chip which is the very low current version of the 555)

In my finished Intervalometer I use a small 9 volt pp9 battery and replaced VR1 with a 12 way switch and put in a series of fixed resistors to give repeatable specific interval timing. If anyone wants it, I can give a chain of resistor values that will give fixed timing between 1 exposure per second to one exposure every 90 seconds...

This triggers my Canon 20D and 5Dmk2 cameras a treat. It should trigger any digital camera that has a remote control socket...Or if you want to try and take the camera cover off and modify the 'button' switch...:smile:

I have taken 3 time lapse videos with the 20D. It works very well
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Love time lapse works - some great examples to be found here - many done with the 5DMKII - and other lesser cameras too :grin:

The Canon TC-80N3 is supposedly one the best of the commercial interval timers - at $300AUD + or - a bit it would want to be :sigh:
I have my first two experimental Time lapse videos on Vimeo too...

My intervalometer would cost about 10 aus$... :grin:

However, I am hooked and have been researching the net for 'Intervalometer'. There are plenty of plans out there - I wanted a simple one to use as a startup/experiment. After creating 3 t/l videos, I am looking to getting a programmable unit.

I have found a couple on eBay that look OK
This one at £30
This one at £38

Both are far less expensive than the branded one... I bought a non branded wireless release for £18... Saved quids... It works just as well.

But my home built cheapo produced these. (The second one has a different sound track and has additional footage...)

Winter fuel - cutting the logs on Vimeo

Logging & Cleaning up - Time lapse sequence on Vimeo

Tech: one frame every 3.5 seconds, play back at 30 frames per second. About 4,000 individial photos with the Canon 20D DSLR
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Nice work Donald, but what took longer cleaning up the driveway or building the circuit:)
Definitely the driveway .. that is a simple circuit than any hobbyist with a small amount of soldering experience could put together within half an hour using a bit of prototype pcb. To place in a suitable plastic box with required cables and connectors add another half an hour.

I reckon Don did it well within that time period unless he was "experimenting" :laugh:
I reckon Don did it well within that time period unless he was "experimenting" :laugh:
Ha bloomin' ha!

It took me two days of fossicing around the garage to find all my electronic goodies that were stashed away when I sold the business a few years ago.

I breadboarded it first (Why do they call it breadboarding? -It looks like a rampant spiders web after a night out with the lads hitting the LSD!) To get the correct values or the mark/space resistors - then I decided to abandon the 1M pot & very laboriously plot a graph of R:T to get values that would daisy chain to the timings I wanted...

Plastic box? Yuk, how uncivilised...nothing less that a good old Eddistone die cast box with all the holes and apertures correctly placed and drilled. LEDs in proper holders et al
So you were experimenting :lol:

I figured that you grabbed the diagram from somewhere then threw it together .. then placed inside a box.

I had forgotten that you are of the "old School" like me and would do things "properly" including allowing for heat dissipation, something that appears to be sadly lacking in all modern appliances and I am sure contributes to the majority of premature failure when the design has at least be properly thought out!

Photo's of the project are now obligatory .. you have the technology!!! :laugh:
Notice how he didn't answer the original question though:grin:

I suspect he's still working on the clean up.:wink:
What makes you so sure that he did the clean up??

I haven't seen the video yet due to some minor Linux Problems not supporting the site flash plug ins .. maybe I should try to update my flash player! :laugh:
I suspect he's still working on the clean up.:wink:
Dead right! And supervising my wife on stacking the logs too! I should have done a time lapse of her doing it! :laugh:
don't you have any consideration for your poor wife Don ?? I've seen her Photo!!!

you could at least have told her to invite a friend!! :laugh:

So you were experimenting :lol:

Photo's of the project are now obligatory .. you have the technology!!! :laugh:
Not photos as such - I used my scanner to quickly get these images...

I just happened to have 3 Radio Spares breadboard pcbs that made life a lot easier...

I did say it was a web!

The front panel. I need to find a nice neat knob for the timing selector...

The innards of the thing...

There are 12 resistors, daisy chained on the back of the 12 way rotary switch.

The two 'tinned' tracks on the bottom left of the 'vero' board is where the transistor out to the camera will be connected when I get a small connector socket on the front panel...

I have devised a method of mounting the PCBs with very little hassle. I use double sided carpet tape stuck to a small piece of dense sponge. I stick that to the PCB then place another piece of carpet tape onto the other side of the sponge and stick the assembly into the box. Carpet tape does not dry out like cellotape and stays stuck for many a year:grin:
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What makes you so sure that he did the clean up??

I haven't seen the video yet due to some minor Linux Problems not supporting the site flash plug ins .. maybe I should try to update my flash player! :laugh:
Maybe you need to upgrade your OS to something decent and that works...Try Vista or Windows 7 for a real living experience :tongue: :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:
Where's the hard drive go in that device?

And D_F could move to a newer version of Linux I hear they support Flash and are still cost effective:grin:
Hard drive? Hell's teeth! It has a 500 terrabyte plasma flux memory. It is hidden under the black tape on the battery box. It is so secret that you can't even Google it yet.
here's my only stopmotion/timelapse thet I have put up on Vimeo - my beloved beach again :grin:
Tech notes: around 440 images - just done with manual sequential shooting mode - a few gaps as the camera takes a rest every now and again to process images and you need to re-release the shutter :sigh: from my Olympus DSLR. processed in Adobe Premiere Elements.

beach stopmotion trial on Vimeo
That is brilliant ZCM. I love it...Dont hide your talent matey - what else have you tucked away in the loft? :grin:

From my researches into time lapse with a DSLR, I have discovered a few tips...I am not sure if your Olympus has the feature of reducing the frame size (My Canons can) but if it can, then reduce to as small as it can.

Because the maximum video on Vimeo and Facebook playback is the equivalent to HDTV 1080p (1440 1080p pixels), most DSLRs produce images way in excess of this. Again, the standard playback is 640x480. Therefore, taking time lapse stills, you can use the smallest image size the camera can take as long as the image size from the camera is equal greater than the size to be played back.

If you can reduce the image size in the Olympus, that should reduce the stresses on the camera's memory buffer and be less susceptible to pauses while storing stuff. I set my 20D to 5Mp & on the highest compression and it still came out far greater image quality than HDTV

I am running Premiere Pro and have an account with Adobe. I have recently queried on the Premiere forum about the best way of importing stills as a sequence. I should imagine that the same will apply to Premiere Elements too. They advise that although Premiere will reduce the images to the display size, it is best that if the still images are reduced to the finished display size before importing them. By doing so, the exporting rendering will be much quicker.

My first attempt, I got Premiere to do the resizing and it took a long time to produce the final .MP4 file. When I reduced the same sequence to the 720p standard first, the outputting was much quicker.

I used Photoshop's batch process to reduce all the images and while it was doing so, I had set up a PS Action to do a wee bit of smart sharpening too.)

Also, you can increase the ISO rating to well beyond the normal. It doesn't matter if digital noise creeps into the individual images because it doesn't show when played back as a video. This opens up the opportunity to shoot stills in much darker situations than you can normally. ( Night time lapse in town, Stars rushing across the sky, Moon rises & setting etc.)

I want to devise a way of mounting the camera on the car dash. I am planning a very long drive soon - From home to southern Brittany in France. I thought a time lapse sequence of that would be a good experiment. Good job I have plenty of CF gards (3 x 16Gb & 1 x 32Gb - remember the 5D2 @t 21.5 Mp on RAW produces 25 Mb files :grin:)

What I need to get to grips with is the audio aspect of Premiere and video transitions and importing single stills and outputting to dvd and ....and... and...etc et al!:grin:
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In Premiere Elements (and I would presume in Pro too - have it at work but not at home where I am atm) you go to Get Media or File>Import and when the browse window opens click on the first image of your sequence and then tick the little tick box that says something like "as numbered stills" and it imports the sequence as a clip to the media box - great because you don't then have them as individual stills that take ages to manipulate one by one. :grin: The software gives the clip a time based on I'm not quite sure what fps (couldn't be bothered to do the maths - I do it by eye) but this can be altered by time-stretching. This is how the beach one was done.
As far as the editing with effects, transitions, sounds etc goes - time and play is the best teacher I have found - I had to learn to do it for work and just kept trying different things - Even Elements has so many things to investigate that it could keep me busy for another lifetime :grin:
Yes - it is a good idea to reduce the pixel size of the images either in-camera or post - Irfanview (link in my sig) is a much faster batch processor than Photoshop - also very handy for renaming/numbering sequences that you may have taken one or two out of for some reason - this allows them to come in again as one sequence not many. I posted some instructions on here to someone recently on using irfanview - I'll see if I can find it.
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Couldn't find the post (may have been thinking of school photography Moodle site so... ) so here is a PDF I made up for my students - we do a Unit of Work on claymation/stopmotion and they use Irfanview a lot to resize and rename sequences of images.


I can see everything using my laptop with SuperOS (Ubuntu based) 9.04 .. it's 9.10 with ethe SuperOS tweaks that is not letting me see. I have that on my old Win7 PC which now hosts an upgraded Ubuntu 9.10 SuperOS. Something tells me it will shortly become 10.04 :laugh:
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