We’ve had the ability to capture time-lapse images with Canon EOS cameras for some time. What was needed was an interval timer to attach to the camera to fire it at a regulated interval. This interval could be as short as 1 second to as long as days. To do this, you needed to purchase an interval timer (intervalometer) and carry it with you. Canon’s answer for advanced DSLRs is the TC-80N3 Timer/Remote Controller. It has several functions beyond being an interval timer and is usually found in my camera bag. But there have been numerous times that I’ve been out photographing and didn’t have all my tools with me, including the TC-80N3, and I was out of luck when it came to time-lapses.
The new Canon EOS 7D Mark II has the interval timer built into the camera. Access the 4th Red Menu on the camera’s LCD and follow the procedure below. You will have the option of setting the number of captures from 1 to 99 or set to “Unlimited.” The time between each exposure can be set from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.
Time-lapse procedure via menu
- Go to 4th red menu
- Press “Set” with “Interval Timer” highlighted
- Highlight “Enable”
- Push “INFO” on back of camera to access the interval adjustment menu
- Use the Quick Control Dial on the camera to change to the adjustment wanted
- Push “SET” to make setting active
- Rotate the Quick Control Dial to change setting
- Push “SET” to lock in setting
- IMPORTANT: Rotate Quick Control Dial to highlight “OK” or “Cancel”
- Push “SET” to return to the menu and lock in settings
- Pressing the camera shutter will start the capturing of the time-lapse with the interval you have set on the camera
- To cancel the camera’s interval firing, move the camera switch to “Off”
Side Bar: Basic Tips for Better Time-Lapses
Set your “White Balance” to manual, usually daylight. Set the exposure to “Manual.”
Choose a file resolution that matches your intention for the final result. I usually use “SRAW” (2736x1824) so that I can optimize all the images in Adobe Lightroom and have some extra resolution to zoom into the image using the “Ken Burns Effect” in video software. For those aiming for the best results to see great resolution on a 4K television, capture in “MRAW” (4104x2736). You will need a robust computer system to work at that resolution.
For those just starting, it might be a good idea to start with a JPEG setting of S2 (1920x1280) for playing back at HD on a computer or television. This will make for smaller files and direct conversion to time-lapse using Apple QuickTime Pro.
Have a large CF or SD card in the EOS 7D Mark II so that you can take many images before the card is full. A 16GB to 64GB card will offer space for a lot of image sequences.
Remember that how many images you take, divide that number by 30 (30 frames per second final playback speed) will give you the seconds of video that you have captured. An example is 600 images captured will yield a final time-lapse lasting 20 seconds.
I initially compiled my time-lapse using either Apple QuickTime 7 Pro ($29.99) or Sequence from Frosthaus.com ($34.99). The advantage of Sequence is that it will even out exposures to eliminate any flicker in your final result.
Once you have several time-lapse clips, you can assemble them in a video-editing program. Basic programs are Apple iMovie (Mac) and Adobe Premiere Elements (Mac and Windows). For more advanced users, there is Apple Final Cut Pro 10 (Mac) and Adobe Premiere (Mac and Windows). All the video editing programs will have the ability to use what is called the “Ken Burns Effect” where you can do movements inside the video, like pans and zooms. Look at the movements in the video that accompanies this article.