How to Make a Time Lapse Video With Your DSLR

How to Make a Time Lapse Video With Your DSLR

Over in our TI-83 calculator as his intervalometer.

Here’s his video (there’s another one at the bottom of the post) with his tutorial following:

How He Made It

1) Set-up your shot. Use a tripod or sturdy location to place your camera. I put mine in front of the TV in the entertainment center.

2) Take a test shot. Take a test shot of the area to calculate your exposure and to set the focus. I knew I wanted about a 2 second exposure, so I took my test shot in Shutter Priority mode.

3) Adjust the camera settings. Switch the camera into manual mode. Use your test shots exposure information to set the aperture. Set the shutter speed to what you used in step 2. Turn off auto white balance. Set it to a preset or custom. Basically make sure any auto features are not on auto, otherwise you’ll get a nasty flickering (like I did).

4) Take another test shot. Only do this if you have easy access to the viewfinder, and use a remote to avoid camera shake. This shot is just to make sure the images are properly exposed using the manual settings.

5) Setup your intervalometer. I used a TI-83 calculator as my intervalometer. See the links below for the instructable. I set mine to fire in 10,000 TI-83 cycles, which worked out to be around every 26 seconds.

6) Hook em up together. Hook up your calculator (or intervalometer) to your camera and press start.

7) Wait. For me, waiting wasn’t that bad since I was playing Mario Kart. But doing a nature time lapse will require a significant time commitment. For my example the time was just about 3 hours.

8) Compile the video. After the sequence is done and you’ve downloaded your images its time to make the video. I used QuickTime Pro as it was the easiest method and gave me the best results. I tried a few free applications, which worked, but I liked the flexibility QT Pro gave me. In QT Pro simply go to “File -> Open Image Sequence…” and then chose the first picture. Be sure to set your Frame Rate at something between 10 and 30. I used 15 for mine. If your files are numbered sequentially QT will be able to figure out which pictures to add. From there you can “File -> Save As…” a QuickTime .MOV or you can “File -> Export” to a number of different formats. If your video is long enough you can add music and the like. See the links for some sites to get free creative commons licensed music.

9) Post your video. I put mine on Flickr, but you can put yours on YouTube or any other video sharing site.

10) Enjoy.

The shots for this time lapse were taken with my 18-55mm kit lens at 18mm, f/8.0, 2 second shutter speed and 26 seconds between shots. I accidentally left on auto white balance, which is what gives it that flicker.

Other Notes:

  • Sutter Speeds: Be sure to pick a shutter speed that will give you a good time lapse effect (ie- movement). If you have a shutter speed that is too fast you’ll end up with a choppy looking video.
  • Interval Times: The interval times (time between shots) should also be set for your subject. For slow moving subjects you can have more time between shots. For fast moving subjects you’d want less of an interval. For example, for clouds you’d want to take a shot ever second or so.
  • Battery Power: Make sure you have enough battery power in both your camera and your intervalometer. If you’re expecting things to take a while plug into AC power (if its near), use a power inverter, or a battery grip.
  • Image Settings: Set your camera to use JPG (you won’t need RAW for this) and at a size that you think is reasonable. If you don’t it will make your post processing more difficult as you’ll have to convert all your RAW images to JPG and then re-size them. I started in RAW not knowing any better and alot time was spent converting and re-sizing. Save yourself the trouble and do it in the camera.


As promised – here’s another of the Time Lapse videos from Chrismar.

Taken a picture or carried out a digital photography project that you want to share? Head over to the ‘How I Took It‘ section of our forum and tell us about it.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

Some Older Comments

  • artborghi March 10, 2013 07:40 pm

    Thanks! I thought I already switched off every possible D800 automatism .. I did not think about AWB! So, my flickering video is here:

    Next white without flickering (hopefully) :D

  • Marek Sliwa August 15, 2012 03:25 am

    I've always used VideoVelocity for timelapse, and now it supports DSLRs too, it just works and can process RAW as well.

  • Ashwin Manu May 26, 2012 01:05 pm

    Hi Darren,

    I bought the MC-DC2 yesterday and the shutter lock/hold works fine in the sports/action mode perfectly. But when I switch to full manual mode and burst mode it just takes two shots. I am using D5100.

    Do you know if its a camera limitation?


  • Jake May 26, 2012 08:21 am

    with a canon 7D the image size is 5184x3456 so when the images are turned into a video file and imported into premiere pro it is way bigger than my sequence size and when sized down it is not the same ratio. can anybody help me?

  • Manoj April 27, 2012 08:56 am

    Something that I did using my android phone!

  • Anthony February 27, 2012 02:48 pm

    Where is my latest time-lapse of some models photoshoot
    I've used a TempusNEX IR intervalometer ( ) with my SONY NEX 5

  • Alex February 19, 2012 10:19 pm

    Just realised that the link I posted 3 months ago was wrong! Here is my MW3 effort:

  • February 19, 2012 06:15 am

    Our latest showreels:
    You'll love it!

  • Alex Milligan November 14, 2011 12:17 am

    Thanks for the info, here's my MW3 effort:

    It's a shame I overestimated my battery life.

  • Florian September 20, 2011 09:36 pm

    Nice tutorial! Here is my latest timelapse of a fair in Germany.

  • MoleMan August 14, 2011 07:45 am

    If you can handle using linux there is a very nifty little command line program called Gphoto2, its very easy to use, completely free and has support for thousands of cameras, very useful interval photography/timelapse features. Just requires having a PC/laptop available, I have a very nice little eeePC (netbook) that was less than £80 when I bought it second hand from a friend, don't use it much anymore but is a perfect size to carry with you and sit under a tripod to run a time-lapse :)

  • MaC July 7, 2011 12:46 am

    That is cool!! but a easier way that anyone can start time-lapsed photography is with a wireless infreared intervalometer like this. There is one for every type camera:
    Check it out and tell me what you think

  • June 22, 2011 06:20 pm


    I am doing time lapses with a Panasonic GH2 and Pixel TC-252 intervalometer. I usually set a 5 seconds interval. I am also experimenting with exposure fusion to get an effect similar to hdr. I use Autopano Giga for exposure fusion.

    Here is the link to my time lapses:

  • Alvaro May 9, 2011 11:54 am

    Hi Guys.

    I have been done some nice time lapses, but I noticed that nobody asked about the exposure changes when you want to shoot daytime/nightime in the same secuence. Like sunset or sunrise.

    I really don´t know how to make it work in a proper way, and please, if you can let me know how do you do, to change the exposure according to the different light times, I will be more than happy.

    Thanks a lot for all the info, and great time lapses.


  • BP February 2, 2011 06:43 am

    Glad my Pentax DSLR has this built in.

  • Matt September 4, 2010 09:11 am

    Hello everybody!

    I'm fascinated with how good time lapse photography can be. Obviously you have to use all the right settings with all the right gear under all the right conditions for best results.
    Im planning on going camping tomorrow night in the middle of nowhere, no ambient light, no moon, and hopefully clear skys! with just me my tripod and my D300, and if anyone could give me a few brief pointers to get better results id really appreciate it.

    this video is amaaazing from 39 seconds on! and if i could achieve anything like this id be a happy man!
    A lot of people say they use High ISO's, is this better than using low iso with long exposures?
    and also is it important to take off auto White Balance?
    another problem i have is not actually being able to properly focus on the stars as you cant really see anything through the viewfinder!.. is there anyway of solving this?
    Also is there any particular interval settings which will work best for night timelapse?
    Thank you all and i look forward to an abundance of helpful replys!

  • aceda July 20, 2010 05:34 pm

    great info.

    this is my version of time.lapse.
    more on my vimeo page. have fun.

  • Blueglaze May 18, 2010 06:43 am

    Time Lapse of New York City

  • Groph May 9, 2010 10:08 pm

    I have a new casio EX-F1 .. there is tow new videos wiht this machine

  • Justin Campbell May 9, 2010 07:32 pm

    Flicker is really great when sharing photos over friends and families. I love the resize feature of Flickr..*`

  • Florin Sev April 22, 2010 01:18 pm

    Of course, timelapse will shorten the life of your camera (mirror, shutter changes). My both D700 had a problem with mirror after 250000 shots and I change the shutter at 336000, not because was broken (yet) but because I need it to be like new for a long trip.

  • Steven April 22, 2010 12:52 am

    The question I have is taking all these photos bad for the shutter. Am I going to shorten the life of my camera, by doing time lapse and stop motion stuff?


  • Groph April 5, 2010 05:16 pm

    Én vagyok kezd?, de talán nem olyan rossz, videók .. kérlek nézd meg ezeket a

  • Shobhit Gupta March 31, 2010 01:11 am

    I forgot to mention that I own a Canon T1i Rebel.

    Will this work with it?

  • Shobhit Gupta March 31, 2010 12:41 am

    Thanks for this article. It is extremely interesting.
    I too am planning to learn and make such time lapse movies.

    I would especially be interested in making time lapse movies of sky. (so I might have to play a lot with exposure settings)

    For me it boils down to either buying :

    TI-83 (which is nearly $93 on Amazon)
    Canon Timer remote Control (which is nearly $143)

    Which method should I buy out of those 2?

    Thanks for all suggestions.

  • Mike March 10, 2010 02:51 am

    Of course you can use a video camera. I use a Panasonic HVX-200 for time lapse and you can set it to take interval shots. I usually set it to take a frame per 2 seconds up to 5 seconds for most nature time lapse, i.e. clouds or moon rises. It is set to display the shots on a typical 720/60p timeline. No editing required. It just transfers through Final Cut Pro as a .mov file. This camera works great but it is not priced such as to be affordable for the typical consumer. I'm sure you'll see this feature on more video cameras to come.

  • Sean Lee February 26, 2010 09:18 am

    i have made several timelapse of my own, but recently ran into a problem.
    On QT, i click Open Image Sequence and select first photo of the folder. And it creates a video, but it's ALL BLACK. Tried with fewer number of photos, and still does the same. What is wrong?

  • Milad December 16, 2009 01:48 pm

    I have a kodak easyshare z1012. I don't know if I can make timelapse with it or not?
    Is there any way to trigger the shutter of this camera automatically?

  • Milad December 16, 2009 01:48 pm

    I have a kodak easyshare z1012. I don't undrestand know if I can make timelapse with it or not?
    Is there any way to trigger the shutter of this camera automatically?

  • tkalhous August 22, 2009 10:37 pm

    Timelapse of building house

    youtube version:

    full quality you can download from this site: - long version (354MB) - short version (134MB)


  • Lamont Goodine June 8, 2009 08:58 am

    first of all thanks for the info on the quicktime it works great..

    here is my input for anyone with a nikon d90 dslr that want to do time lapse.

    Time lapse photography on the nikon D90 you can use the nikon MC-DC2 remote control and set the camera on 1 fps in custom settings then put the camera on multiple pictures (L) next to AF on top of the D90 press the button on the remote then lock it, it will take pictures until you unlock the MC-DC2 or run out of space on your memory card make sure you have the MB-D80 battery pack for long periods of time. have fun. the only thing is when i did my first time lapse with the d90 is it stopped after like 100 pics so all i did is quickly unlock and lock the Mc-DC2 agin, and again until i was finished you can do this until the batteries are finished or your memory card is done...

  • Florin Sev April 8, 2009 10:59 pm

    Nice tutorial!
    Also, for motion control you can use a AltAzimuth Telescope Mount
    My HD showreel here:

  • rks1 January 17, 2009 07:51 pm

    hey kevin!
    i once did it with my d80.. it works as fine as with any other cameras.. if you want to do it with a d90 and the moviefunction you have to speed it up in postproduction - but i suppose it's no real timelapse by then anymore. the point is to take one picture every x seconds and put together to a film.


  • kevin January 17, 2009 01:08 pm

    hello, just wondering, has anyone got this to work with any nikon dslr?specifically, the d90? what would i need to do to get it to work?

    anyways, nice tutorial!

  • Apple Game Reviews January 9, 2009 04:57 am

    I just stumbled on one of the greatest time lapse video all sho with a Canon Rebel.. It's quite breathtaking.. Just click on my name on the left.. it will take you directly to the video post.

    Thank you for some great tips Darren,

  • Marisa August 19, 2008 01:44 am

    Compilation of the very best time lapses on the internet:

  • Alex July 20, 2008 10:40 pm

    Hi all

    For Windows user you can use a free tools to make/edit/... your videos : Virtualdub.

    To import a serie of pictures as a video in virtualdub, take a look at the first paragraph of this short tutorial

    You can apply some filters (resize, motion blur,...) on your video : menu Video > Filters > Add
    And you can add more than one filter at a time.

    You can choose a compression for your video (menu Video > Compression), add audio from a file (menu Audio > Audio from other file),...

    And then choose File > Save as AVI

    My first try in timelapse video is a Moon rising :

  • ziad chatila June 28, 2008 03:09 am

    Hi Marci.

    This is actually a common problem and I recommend you go to my site for more info and discussion on this because it's been raised there already.

    But a few things to keep in mind. How solid is your set up? Is there anyway that the camera/tripod/wooden frame is moving, even a little?

    What about your camera settings? Generally speaking, go manual for all settings, including white balance and focus. I assume you are shooting in aperture-priority mode, from what your post? Did you lock down the white balance in AE mode?

    Is it the exposure that is changing from one image to the next? or is it the whole frame?

    Hope that helps.

  • Sica Pavlescu June 28, 2008 03:08 am

    The frame must be tight to the camera. You can try to make a mould firmly attached to a concrete or steel structure.
    Good luck!

  • marci June 28, 2008 01:05 am

    Hi! I enjoyed this post and your time-lapse video! Thanks for sharing.

    I don't know if anyone can shed some light, but I am attempting to do a time-lapse of a longer term nature, e.g. a big construction project lasting over a year with a few images shot each week. We determined our vantage point, constructed a wooden frame for the camera and started shooting images. Problem is, even with the camera in the base, and the same focal length, the image frame is not the same, which causes the picture to jump around when I make the video. Not pretty! Any suggestions???


  • Sica Pavlescu June 16, 2008 02:51 am

    I made this video using Canon Utilities and QuickTime Pro.

    Camera was in manual mode (inclusive focus).
    Shots every 60 seconds.
    About 3 hours.

    Canon 400D and a MacBookPro

  • Mayra June 14, 2008 08:06 am

    This doesn't work with the Nikon D40. I tried several times and the program just freezes when I connect the calculator to the camera. It's a shame.

  • ziad June 13, 2008 04:38 am

    Some really talent on this post!! I recommend people check out my forum. There's tons of tutorial links and free software that can be used in lieu of the pay ones, like Quicktime.

    timelapseforum [dot] com.

    @Neil Creek: love your time lapse. Big fan of the fish eye lens!

    @Anthony Skelton: even shooting in manual mode, will sometimes create flickering. I know there are pay options to remove the flickering, but sometimes it can be really frustrating!!!

  • AndyW June 12, 2008 01:17 am

    Hey guys - just made a timelapse cloud video using a timer I bought for £30 off ebay!

  • guy montag June 11, 2008 10:24 pm

    Here's a timelapse video I made with my D200 showing my favorite parts of Dallas - you might like it :)

  • thomas June 10, 2008 10:03 am

    here are a bunch of movies i made with my slr cameras and a motion controlled telescope mount.

    all you need is quicktime and you can open an image sequence (folder of jpegs from the camera) then export it any size that you want.

    you can subscribe to my podcast here

    or check out the movies here

    i have a bunch of them up


  • Chris June 9, 2008 11:56 pm

    Hi There,

    I'm the author of this how-to. I'll try to respond to a few posts & answer a few questions:

    Raymond Chan: There was about 500 or so pics for the first one. If you look on my flickr I have a time-lapse of clouds, which was well over 1500 images. A "branded" (Canon, Nikon, etc) intervalometer will set you back around $100 USD. There are cheap alternatives that can be found on eBay, etc.

    robert: Yes, the Digital Rebels come with the same software. I've used it on both a PC and a Mac, and while it works it isn't quite as portable as an intervalometer.

    Alice Bevan–McGregor: Excellent. That's exactly the method I used. Thanks!

    Toby Fairchild: See the instrucbables link:

    Fabrizio: Video cameras don't give you the same effect. The idea isn't to create a video, its to basically create an animated picture out of multiple still images. Besides, a video of 3.5 hours of video games would be pretty boring.

    Thanks everyone else for the comments!


  • leni June 9, 2008 04:20 pm

    Anybody knows if it's possible to make a timelapse with iMovie? I think no, but maybe I'm wrong...
    Great post ;-)

  • Fabrizio June 9, 2008 10:06 am

    It isn't better to buy a video camera?

  • Richard Holden June 9, 2008 09:33 am

    Although the quality obviously isn't as good as with a DSLR, the Nokia N95 has this feature actually built in, which is handy if you want to do something like this without making any technical effort whatsoever.

    It's strange that my mobile phone has a feature like this, when none of the actual cameras that I've owned have done!

  • Mark June 9, 2008 06:47 am

    I did something like this in Linux with my Nikon D40x.
    I used gphoto, connected my camera USB and used this bash script:


    for ((i=0;i<240;i+=1)); do
    gphoto2 --capture-image -F 1 -I 1 --filename ./$i.jpg
    #Time between pictures
    sleep 1m

  • Brian Mauter June 8, 2008 01:39 am

    Specifically, you can find ImageMagick at:

    and mpeg2encode at:


  • Brian Mauter June 8, 2008 01:37 am

    If you don't want to fork over the $29 for QuickTime Pro, you can use ImageMagick to do the same for you.

    Install ImageMagick.
    Install mpeg2encode from
    Put your JPGs in a folder and name them sequentially.
    Inside that folder from the command line, run this:
    convert -resize 600x400 -delay 100 *.jpg out.mpg
    The 600 is the width and the 400 is the height. The delay is in 1/100s, so 100 = 1 second, 50 = .5 second, etc.

    Now you have a mpeg file and nearly anything these days will play those.

    I have an example on my personal website. It's hosted over my home DSL connection, so don't be surprised if it's a super slow download or fails to respond. Gotta love those DSL upload speeds.


  • Craig Copelin June 7, 2008 02:48 pm

    My D200 will do this from the menu. I regularly set it up to talke photos of myself climbing. Nice videos, thanks for sharing.

  • Neil Creek June 7, 2008 11:06 am

    I love time lapse stuff, and want to experiment more. The main problem I've got is that I don't have an intervalometer, so I've been triggering by the laptop. Not very portable. For shots by interior lighting, make sure to set your shutter speed to be an interval of the frequency of your local power supply, or you'll get flickering from the lighting.

    Here's a time lapse I did with a fisheye lens in my car during a short drive around the suburbs at night. I was really happy with the results, and want to try some more sometime!

    Fisheye night driving time lapse.

  • Jacek P. June 7, 2008 07:23 am

    Oh that's cool! With Nikon you're safe, if you have a laptop.
    There's a tool Camera Control Pro 2, which works with I guess most of Nikon gears. Having it installed you only need to connect your camera through USB, run the app, set up all parameters and start automatic shooting! :)

    demo version of this tool is available somewhere on Nikon pages.

  • rik June 7, 2008 07:21 am

    man, now i have to dig through all my stuff to see if i still have my old graphing calculator just to see if i can get that thing to work. it's an hp, but i think it has the same connection. thanks for the tutorial!

  • Anthony Skelton June 7, 2008 06:01 am

    I've done a couple time lapse videos but I didn't use manual mode so they were a little flickery. Now I know what to do different to make them better.

    To do the time lapse I used the software that came with my Canon DSLR on my laptop and tethered it to the camera. The EOS Utility has a remote shooting section, and one of the tools for that is Timer Shooting. You can set how long of a delay before you begin taking a picture, or set up Interval timer shooting. Unfortunately the shortest shooting interval is 5 seconds, so for shooting fast objects this method is not best. But since the software came with the camera its a cheep way to start making time lapses.

  • Chattanooga Photographer June 7, 2008 04:32 am

    Very cool. Thanks! I really enjoyed this post.

  • Toby Fairchild June 7, 2008 03:56 am

    Never mind. I see the link for instructables...I'll go there. thanks.

  • Toby Fairchild June 7, 2008 03:55 am

    Could you elaborate on how you 'hooked up' a calculator to your camera. I have never heard of such.

  • Alice Bevan–McGregor June 7, 2008 03:42 am

    I created a short screencast for creating time-lapse video using QuickTime Pro:

  • Konstantin June 7, 2008 03:18 am

    Hey! I googled for my D80 and I had to pay around 100 Euros, which was too much for me...

    alternatively, i downloaded the trial-version of "Camera Control Pro" for nikon cameras, which was running for 30 days and i hooked it up with my laptop. if you buy this it's also about 100+ euros.
    i have no idea about other currencies and countries. but i suppose it's cheaper in the US (at least for europeans)


  • robert June 7, 2008 02:51 am

    Canon EOS cameras (not sure about the D-Reblels) come with software that allows you to shoot tethered to a computer. You can set the interval you want and go through the same processing to create the video.

  • Raymond Chan June 7, 2008 02:29 am

    That would be heaps of shots in 3 hours! Great stuff! Anyone with any idea how much it would cost to get the intervalometer or any other alternatives?

    - Raymond Chan

  • Bob June 7, 2008 02:19 am

    I have a timer I ordered from HK that does this. Plugs into the remote jack and can program it to set off shots at whatever time. Just need to combine to make a movie.

  • SIGEPJEDI June 7, 2008 02:02 am

    Here is the link to the Instructable for the intervalometer:

  • Andrew June 7, 2008 01:17 am

    I did this a short while back except with something that moves much slower: plants. I simply set up my tripod in my room with a pot of sprouted seeds since plants grow the fastest in their small stage. My video can be found below: