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DSLR Timelapse


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#1 Mei Lewis

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 02:46 PM

I'm just starting to experiment with DSLR timelapse and there are a few things I can't find the answer to online. I'm using a 5D2 at the moment.


Is it safe to have the sun in the frame?
I've seen lots of great looking timelapses that do but I'm worried that having the camera pointed at the sun for the long will burn out the sensor or shutter or just damage things by heating up the lens.


Do people shoot timelapses in jpeg or RAW?
I'd never shoot stills in jpeg usually but I figure the lower quality isn't so much of an issue if I'm converting them to video and the space saving is very handy.
If I do shoot jpeg I'm guessing it's best to use the cinestyle picture style and shoot in adobe RGD rather than sRGB. I've done a test and it seems fine but is this what other people do too?
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#2 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 04:02 PM

<br style="color: rgb(28, 40, 55); font-size: 13px; line-height: 20px; background-color: rgb(250, 251, 252); ">Is it safe to have the sun in the frame?



It may not be. I've done it and got away with it, but strictly speaking you could damage the inside of the lens, including the iris, the shutter, the mirror, the viewfinder, or the sensor. If you can arrange for a larger-diameter, external capping shutter to block the front of the lens when you're not exposing, the risk of this becoming a problem is reduced, but that's tough to organise unless you're using an external intervalometer that provides for it.

Do people shoot timelapses in jpeg or RAW?



I always did it in JPEG simply because that was easier and because it is often so oversampled, even for HD, it barely seems to matter. Few nonlinear edit programs will support whatever specific versions of raw your camera produces, so if you do go that route - because you want to maintain the high bit
depth, or whatever - you will have to plan a workflow that allows you to create something like 16-bit TIFF or PSD.

There are a few subtleties to shooting timelapse on DSLRs. Ensure you have auto focus off and the servo iris entirely disabled (perhaps by rotating the lens slightly in the mount). The iris servos will relax between exposures to brighten the viewfinder image, which exacerbates the possibility of sun damage, but you will find that even if you set a manual aperture, the iris will not reliably return to that precise stop for every exposure. Auto iris is of course completely out as it will not be nearly consistent enough. Also ensure you have auto colour balance off as this can cause flicker too.


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#3 SheaFlynn

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Posted 17 January 2012 - 10:26 PM

I've been playing with time lapse for a couple months now, I'd imagine more then likely your camera would be fine, but don't hold me to it. I wouldn't recommend doing it on a regular basis though because it is potentially damaging. If you are shooting the sun to get a clean exposure with out causing a whole lot of flicker, you still want to keep your exposure below 1/60th and go REALLY heavy on the ND. Also check out the forums at timescapes.org those guys might be more helpful Let us know how it goes, best of luck!

Edited by SheaFlynn, 17 January 2012 - 10:28 PM.

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#4 Mei Lewis

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 08:44 AM

Thanks Phil that's really helpful. And Shea I'll check out timescapes.

I have an old Canon 30D with a broken shutter button I'll try on a timelapse with the sun in, doesn't matter if it gets destroyed.
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#5 Youssef Abdelmohsen

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 10:40 AM

I'm just starting to experiment with DSLR timelapse and there are a few things I can't find the answer to online. I'm using a 5D2 at the moment.


Is it safe to have the sun in the frame?
I've seen lots of great looking timelapses that do but I'm worried that having the camera pointed at the sun for the long will burn out the sensor or shutter or just damage things by heating up the lens.




I think it's best to do it in JPEG. I know you get way more dynamic range out of a RAW file, but a JPEG is just much easier to work with in post when you're doing video. I also recommend sequencing your images with Quicktime Pro, or Adobe After Effects. These are the 2 programs I use. I use Adobe After Effects as my main editing program though. I've done some timelapses in the desert where I pointed at the sun. I've done it and got away with it as well. I was there to shoot the Milky Way and I did, but I also shot a lot of day shots to fill up the video. Here's an example of my work and what I did : bit.ly/zThviF
I think if you do it in JPEG, in terms of resolution .. you're not really losing anything, you're gaining a LOT of resolution.
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#6 Mei Lewis

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Posted 18 January 2012 - 04:17 PM

Thanks Youssef.

I've just done two quick tests of shooting jpeg Vs RAW and I think for me the better quality of RAW is worth the extra effort. I'm very comfortable dealing with RAW for stills and it's easy enough to convert to jpeg for use in video apps.The only downside is I'll need some bigger memory cards.
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#7 Seba Vuye

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 02:57 PM

When you shoot in RAW, you got bigger file sizes but better image quality, and when stitching it together you would need a decent computer. But you will get very much flexibility in post production when shooting in RAW and when shooting you don't need to worry that much about the white balance etc, also the camera buffer gets full a lot faster when shooting in raw.

When shooting JPEG make sure your white balance is correctly set.

Doing a timelapse of the sun is not that simple as it looks, because you need to change your exposure. You can do this the ''grand daddy'' way by stopping your camera and change the exposure or you can buy a little bramper to do it automatically (http://www.thewhippe.../Site/Home.html)
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#8 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 19 January 2012 - 06:51 PM

Bear in mind that many cameras have sufficient inconsistency in shutter timing that, at high shutter speeds, this can be a significant source of flicker.

The slower the shutter speed, obviously, the less impact this has, and it's worth carrying a lot of ND (or crossed polarisers), including one really serious multi-stop ND, so that you can use a shutter speed that's appropriate to your frame interval (which also mitigates heat damage from the sun). People overlook this - and you can add motion blur in post now, reasonably convioncingly - but appropriate motion blur really sells timelapse.

Of course, this does mean that if you're shooting a sunset at one frame in ten seconds, you need to figure out a way to do a five second exposure of the sun without using a very low ISO which may affect your camera's dynamic range or a very small stop which may cause diffraction losses in the lens.

Yes, better make that a really serious ND... welder's goggles, anyone?

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#9 Marcus Joseph

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Posted 23 January 2012 - 10:43 PM

There's some sort of trick you can do the deactivate the contacts for the aperture to reduce flicker. They speak about it a lot on Timescapes but I've never tried it.

I find it extremely easy to just shoot RAW and process all the files in Lightroom which gives tonnes of export options that your NLE can handle. The export is simple, easy and quick. The biggest reason I shoot RAW besides the fact that it gives me options to grade (even changes with the white balance) is that for long exposures these SLRs start to crop up with a lot of dead pixels that Lightroom will only remove automatically if it's in RAW form.

I'm sure you'll much prefer that in the long run. As for sun-related, I've never had a problem yet with a 7D and I shot a tonne of stuff directly into the sun.

I probably recommend just buying a 600D or 60D, something cheap and using it like a beast if you want to shoot into the sun. Not much need for added sensitivity on the lower end.

I hope to in the coming years to have a 1DX for night exposure work and a few 60Ds or what not for sun-related shoots or stuff that utilises more shutter. I'm hoping I can afford such a setup.
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#10 Phil Rhodes

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Posted 24 January 2012 - 03:37 AM

There's some sort of trick you can do the deactivate the contacts for the aperture to reduce flicker.




Just rotate the lens a bit in the mount - or use older manual lenses with a mount adaptor.


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