Monday, 4 March 2013

Time-lapse with a DSLR (or why I miss 35mm film less each day)

You know, I'm missing 35mm film less and less nowadays . . . yes, I know film has "the look". I know it has the feel and the history and the smell and the romance . . . and the cost. And the waiting. But in many ways what is more important now is what it doesn't have.

In this post, the "what-it-doesn't-have" I'm most interested in is the capacity of modern DSLR cameras (in my case both a Nikon D200 and D700) to shoot time-lapse video. No video camera required, all it takes is one of my Nikons, time, and the right software. In other words, NO specialist equipment, just a tripod and the Nikon. This is something I wouldn't have dreamed of trying with my film gear, but with digital, it's a breeze.

Software requirements can be covered in a few ways, I'm trying LRTimeLapse (free for non-commercial use) and LightRoom 4 (definitely not free, but hey . . .). LRTimeLapse allows for some very professional looking effects, including the slow "Ken Burns" effect (very slow zoom in then out again), and LR4 allows full editing of levels, sharpness etc and use of a vast array of digital filters.

The results?

See for yourself. Here's my very first attempt using this software combination. Please note, this is a very low-res, bandwidth-friendly version, the original is astonishing, in full 1920 x 1080 HD, rendered at 30 frames per second:

For Nikon DSLR owners, the necessary interval shooting is via the built-in intervalometer in the D700 (and most other newer models I think--even my old D200 has this feature). Just set it and go away for an hour or so, the camera does it all for you automatically. This particular effort involved 600 photos (one every 5 seconds), but I only processed 400. I sat around for 50 minutes enjoying the view while the camera tripped along. Half an hour editing and rendering and there it was!

Here's a more recent effort, again using this software combination, and again a very low-res, bandwidth-friendly version. The original of this is amazing, the sun's rays rotating across the sky while the higher clouds move in the opposite direction. Again, it is full 1920 x 1080 HD, rendered at 30 frames per second:

Like I said, I'm missing 35mm film less and less these days.

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