A couple of months ago I finally purchased an intervalometer. This device allows one to shoot time lapse sequences with a digital still camera. I’ve posted briefly about it before, when I did some test shots of shadows on my wall. Click the picture to the left to view full size.
I purchased my intervalometer from the jiakgong DIGITAL store on eBay for $46.00 delivered. I’m using the version which has a plug for my Olympus C-8080 Digital compact camera. Basically the intervalometer is a clone of the much more expensive Nikon MC-36 remote. You can find versions of this intervalometer that work with many different cameras.
The intervalometer controls are easy to use, and offer many functions. First, in the middle of the unit is a shutter release button. Just like the shutter release on most digital cameras, you can do a half-press for the camera to focus and set exposure, and then press fully to take a shot. This is very useful when you are taking shots with longer exposures and you don’t want to risk shaking the camera by pressing its shutter button. The shutter button can also be held down or moved into a HOLD position. This setting is useful when the camera is in BULB mode and you are taking a long night exposure.
Above the shutter release button is the cursor pad. When setting up for self-timer shots, multiple long exposures, or interval shooting you press the left/right arrows on the pad to choose your mode, and then use the up/down arrows to set the time. Once you have your parameters set, you can press the SET button.
The modes on the intervalometer are:
DELAY – use as a self-timer, or use to set a long delay before you start interval shooting. For example, you might setup your camera in late afternoon, and then set the DELAY to start shooting hours later during the evening hours, unattended.
LONG – How long to hold the shutter open. When shooting a night time lapse, you would set your camera to BULB mode, and then program the LONG interval to hold the shutter open several seconds or minutes for each shot.
INTVL – Sets the interval between each shot. I’ve typically set the interval to six seconds when I’m doing time lapse shots.
N – the number of shots to take. You can set this from 1-399 or infinity.I typically set to infinity and then shoot for an hour or so.You can also set whether you want to hear the rather low level beep when a shot is taken. Once you have your settings, simply press the timer Start/Stop button to begin your shots. Facility is also provided to lock the remote, and to turn on a backlight under dim conditions.
Oddly, ther is no Power button (there isn’t one on the Nikon remote either). The unit is powered by two AAA batteries, and can shoot for two months continuously. There are a few newer versions of the intervalometer out now that use a flat battery and can last up to three years.
I really enjoy taking time lapse shots. I’ve not done very many sequences because before I found this intervalometer I used a laptop with software that controlled the camera. The laptop severely limited where I could take shots and was extremely difficult to use in bright sunlight.
So far I’ve found my new intervalometer to be a good piece of equipment that works well, My only concern is that it is made from cheaper plastic, so I’m not sure how long it will last “in the field”. I’ll have a future post that will give recommendations for shooting time lapse with a still camera.
The video below is my first outside shoot with the intervalometer (make sure you press the HD button in the YouTube player). you’ll notice a brief jump in the video where I changed the camera to manual focus. I wasn’t too concerned since this was only a test and the light wasn’t very pretty.