Basic gears for time lapse photography: motion control equipment, sky charts, sunrise\sunset calculator, intervalometer
Star Trails Photography Basic Photography Low Light Photography
November 14, 2018

Time lapse photography is addictive. It is one of the most attention grabbing genres of photography. Once you have mastered time lapses, you can build an entire portfolio out of it. This will not only help you in photography but videography too. Most travel video-loggers are using time lapses these days. Although time lapses require intensive efforts and a lot of time, the results are quite gorgeous and in the lame man’s language, catchy! Time lapse photography requires a proper kit most of the times. Of course the kit is not mandatory as photographers do time lapses with simple beginner’s cameras but it can bring about a significant improvement in the results. A basic kit for time lapse photography contains a camera body, lens, neutral density filter, tripod, motion control equipment, slider, sky chart, a sunrise and sunset calculator, an intervalometer and surplus memory cards and batteries. Remember, this is just a recommended gear set. It doesn’t mean that you cannot shoot great time lapses if you don’t have any one of these. Let us take a look at the gear set for time lapse photography…

1)   The photography related gear: Obviously we are not going to mention the camera body and lens here since they are a given. We are going to take a close look at the camera accessories instead. Firstly, a stable tripod is absolutely essential for time lapses. Now, you may argue that a tripod can be substituted with anything that is stable and has enough surface area to set your camera body. It is true but it cannot replace the tripod if you are shooting a lot of time lapse photographs. You can also find a sandbag with a tripod. This lends even more stability to your setup especially on a windy day.

Motion control equipment with sliders can bring about an entirely different dimension to your time lapse images. You might have mostly seen static time lapse videos, where the camera is stationary while the subjects are moving. What if we acquire a setup which moves our camera as well? For example, a zooming in set of time lapse images or a side by side sliding camera movement can attract further attention. A motion control equipment, as the name suggests, helps in an automated movement of the camera across a slider in various axes. The setup may be a single axis one or even a 3-axes one. There can be two ways to approach this. Firstly, you can shoot continuously even when the camera is on the move. Secondly, you can shoot and then move your camera and then shoot again when the camera becomes stationary. Both can yield great results if executed properly. If you are choosing the former, make sure you don’t have very slow shutter speeds. In that case the entire set of images will be having blurs since the camera is on the move while shooting at very slow shutter speeds. I prefer the later though as it gives me more freedom. If you are looking to shoot at continuous mode using the motion controller, you need to move the camera as slow as possible while taking the maximum number of shots. This will ensure that there is no unrealistic jump in the final time lapse video. Another important thing, photographers need to keep in mind while shooting in this way, is the entire path of the camera. Since the camera is on the move, a single composition is not enough. There will be multiple compositions and each one will have to be of acceptable quality. Hence a test time lapse has to be done while moving the camera on the path. This will make sure you have your compositions proper in all the shots.

A neutral density filter is also important especially if you are shooting long exposure time lapses. A neutral density filter is used to reduce the amount of light entering the lens. When you are doing long exposure photography, the shutter speed has to be quite slow, possibly less than 1/5th of a second. Thus the amount of light entering the camera sensor is going to be too much to attain proper exposure. This is where a neutral density filter is useful. It helps in cutting down the amount of light entering the lens.


While shooting time lapses, an intervalometer is quite efficient. The intervalometer doubles up as a shutter release cable too, and thus eliminates the human-camera contact which can be fatal in time lapse photography. An intervalometer is a device used to convey to the camera the number of shots it needs to take and in certain specific time intervals. With some simple mathematics, you need to calculate the time interval required. Select the number of shots you need to take, depending on the length of your time lapse video. Once you press the button, the sequence of shots begins.


Image courtesy: wikipedia

2)   The astronomical gear: In case you are planning to shoot time lapse of sunset or night sky, there is an astronomical kit which can be of great value. This kit may include the sky chart or star chart and the sunset or sunrise calculator. The sky chart is a chart of the entire set of stars in the sky. This may include the respective timings as well. Although this is not used by all photographers, this can be a nice value addition since this can give you the perfect idea of the timing of the shoot and the entire duration of the shoot as well. A sunrise or sunset calculator is essential to gain knowledge of the timing of the sunrise or sunset and the duration of each phenomenon.The duration can give you an idea of the time you actually have to complete the entire shoot.



Image courtesy: wikipedia


Time lapse photography requires a lot of practice to gain mastery. The kit mentioned in this blog can come in handy and enable you to achieve perfection more easily!

Star Trails Photography Basic Photography Low Light Photography
Copy link
About Author
Officially responsible to educate, inspire, and recognize photographers. :) :)
Be the first person to like this
Read this next
How to select your time-lapse interval? Understanding the ma...

Time lapse videos depict an entire event in a much shorter duration of time. They are played at great speed and hence enthral the viewers. Time lapse photography takes a lot of practice to attain perfection. There are ki