The final result that a timelapse video offers, is a video film in which events happen at a much higher speed than they were recorded. This sense of speed is basically achieved by eliminating intermediate images. The normal recording speed of a camcorder is 25 images every second. If we eliminate odd images from those images, we would have a shorter video where the action would appear accelerated.
We are going to use a camera unable to capture those 25 images per second that a video camera captures. But to make timelapse much better, this saves us the step of having to delete some intermediate images to create the accelerated effect.
If we photograph with our camera any action such as the passage of clouds, movement of people and vehicles, etc. and we program our camera or intervalometer to shoot a photo every few seconds, when we then create our film with the images obtained, we will see a timelapse video where events happen at a speed higher than what they were recorded.
Many people are surprised to learn that most timelapse videos are made photo by photo. They think that the author has videotaped for a more or less long period of time, and then has simply accelerated the images. The truth is that there are many of those timelapse that could perfectly have been done that way.
Timelapse video has a number of advantages and of course, its cons. In favor of not having any type of wear on the equipment used and against the limitations inherent to these systems in terms of energy consumption, volume of data in recording and subsequent transfer to the editing equipment, the equipment is usually more bulky, and especially regarding the price-quality ratio of the devices used.
On the other hand, with a minimum of "amateur" photographic equipment, we can obtain a sequence of high quality still images that will help us create our video "photo by photo". The main advantages of creating this type of movies by obtaining photos are the higher resolution of the images, the lower price of photographic equipment compared to video equipment, greater freedom when choosing lenses, and the possibility of shoot with “long” exposure times that allow us to obtain images in low light conditions.
Thus, the camera to shoot series of photographs for the creation of timelapse videos can be considered the best option to create accelerated movies. There is only one "but": the wear of the shutter.
Although it seems incredible to us that in the 21st century there is a piece of our latest generation Japanese camera that wears out, this is so. The shutter consisting of sheets suffers wear every time we shoot a photo with our camera. In this link you can find an article where I write about the duration of the shutter. Fortunately, the shutter is a relatively cheap part that easily replace us in the technical service.
Does my camera use to make timelapse videos?
The first thing we need to know when preparing to take a timelapse video is if the camera model we have has the ability to shoot photographs at certain intervals of time. It is advisable to consult the camera manual and look for that option.
Unfortunately today there are very few cameras that include the shooting function at serial intervals: some models of compact cameras and a couple of models of SLR cameras such as the Nikon D100, D200 and D300. If our camera is not one of these, then we have to resort to some alternative solution. Luckily we have several to choose from.
Option 1: Software Intervalometer
In the event that our camera is a compact Canon brand, we can resort to installing on the memory card a free software, which includes among the camera functions an intervalometer.
This software, called CHDK, can be downloaded freely from the Internet and to install it, we just have to copy some files to the camera's memory card where the photos will be saved. This saves us from having to "touch" the camera's internal memory, and it will be enough to remove the card where we have installed the CHDK so that the camera works again with the official software of the brand.
In these same pages you can read a specific article, Software Intervalometer for Canon compact cameras, about the CHDK firmware and that includes all the necessary links to the files that you have to copy to your card.
Option 2: External Intervalometer
Option 2 involves connecting an external device, also called an intervalometer, to our camera, which is responsible for sending the firing order to our camera after the time we have specified. If this is the case, the first thing is to make sure that we are done with an intervalometer compatible with our camera. It is convenient to pay attention especially to the fact that the type of connector is specific to our camera model, since visually all intervalometer models are very similar.
In the stores of Spain we can find official intervalometers of the brand of our camera that falsely exceed one hundred euros in price. In addition, for certain very popular models of these brands, such as the Canon G10, 450D or 500D it is not even possible to find an official intervalometer of the brand adapted to the type of camera connector. Canon has only released an intervalometer model for higher level cameras and with a little DIY we can adapt it to our camera. On the Internet it is easy to find clone models with the same functions and for less than half the price and already adapted to the type of specific connector for our camera. In the forum of timelapses.tv we have written a lot about this topic.
Option 3: Intervalometer in the computer
The third option is the heaviest. We can connect our camera to a computer through the USB port and from a specific program the computer gives the shooting order to the camera. Normally when we buy a digital camera it usually brings a CD with programs and utilities among which we can easily find an application to shoot at intervals.
The bad thing about this option is that we will have to go loaded with the computer wherever we want to place our camera. The good thing about using this system is that we can see the photographs immediately recorded on our hard drive.