Equipment for shooting Time lapse

Equipment for shooting Time lapse
Equipment for shooting Time lapse

Shooting time-lapse videos are actually complicated. You see your requirements for shooting equipment change depending on where and when you shoot. How dark or well lit is the shot? Are you shooting at a high altitude where it is windy? Or at sea level from your home?

So let us break down the necessary equipment and see how different conditions will change what you will need to buy.

The Tripod Stand

If you are planning to shoot a time-lapse at low sea level areas where there is less wind, then the average tripod stand on the market will suffice. You don’t need any thing expensive because there is hardly any wind.

But if you were shooting from the top of a sky scraper or a mountain. Then wind becomes a big factor and it will mess up your time-lapse video.

Why? Well your time-lapse video is basically time sped up, so even a little bit of shaking caused by the wind will appear in the shot and what will happen is that your shot will look jerky.

Thus, if you plan to shoot where it is windy then you will need a full sized Tripod Stand, along with tripod weights. This will stabilize your stand and prevent even a little bit of shaking.

This guy is a tripod weight :D!

Camera Lens

You would in general want a wide lens for your camera because time-lapse shots are generally panoramic, and encompass a large area. In Camera parlance the lower the number of the lens the wider it is. A 24 mm lens is ideal for most panoramic shots but you can go wider still and get a 10 mm lens. Please note that extra wide lens will create a fish eye effect.

Where objects in the center will appear more pronounced and wider than objects at the corner of the frame. Hence test out 24 mm and 10 mm lenses before purchasing one.


Now here is the big question. Are these time lapses during the day or do you intend to take them during the night or pre-dawn? Are you shooting the sun travelling through the sky Or the sun rising  from sea at dawn.

This matters because the amount of light available for your camera sensor changes and so the quality of the image and how much clarity is in your image will change as well.

If you only plan on shooting during the day then any APS-C camera sensor will suffice. You don’t even need a professional camera to do day shots which are well lit.

But the moment we start talking about talking time-lapse shots of the sun rising or taken during the night then you have got to start considering ISO of the camera.

Now ISO is the unit that measures how sensitive the camera sensor is to ambient light in your surroundings. Ambient light is the light from the environment- sun, moon, stars, street lamps, etc.

The higher the ISO the more light your camera absorbs and the brighter your picture appears.

You can see here the different types of image quality depending on ISO.

But not all cameras are made equal. Although all camera’s allow to raise ISO some do it better than others.

Basically a full frame DSLR camera will at ISO 1600 produce a much better picture in low light than an APS-C sensor camera at the same ISO of 1600. So just because a camera can shoot at a high ISO does not mean that you want to buy it.

Unfortunately I do not have a camera comparison shot available so this one below should help you get the picture.

Do you see the noise on the image on the right- that is the drawback of using a camera with low quality sensors. So don’t let some phony salesman convince you to buy a camera because it has high ISO. Test it out.

So now let us talk about the types of cameras you should buy. I am going to assume that you are on a budget. So the cheapest Full frame DSLR Camera is the Canon 5D Mark 3. This bad boy costs 2800 dollars. Yikes! That is going to burn a hole in my pocket. But this camera will work very well in low light conditions.

There are of course the APS-C camera alternatives. They are much cheaper and smaller. The Nikon D7200 is a good camera that works well in low light situation although not as good as the canon. But it costs less than half the canon so if you are on a budget go for it. It costs 1000 dollars.

Now we come to the last thing to consider when you are shooting a time lapse. And that is frame rate. How much should you adjust your frame rate in order to take a time lapse video.

If you are new to this then let me explain that the standard frame rate is 24 frames per second.

Now for example let us say you were taking a ten minute time lapse video and want to shrink it down to 10 seconds. How do you do this?

Well first you calculate how frames you would need for your ten second video. 24 X 10 = 240

Now you calculate how many seconds total is the original full length video going to be. 10 minutes is 600 seconds.

So you divide 600 by 240 and you have 2.5 seconds as the result.

That means you need to set your camera to take 1 frame every 2.5 seconds.

Got it? I hope so

Now what camera’s will let you adjust frame rates. All professional cameras, that is not something you need to worry about. I hope that this article has informed you on what is the best equipment for shooting time lapse.