The best time-lapse cameras capture a series of still images over hours, days, weeks, or even months, making it easy to condense the footage into a short video clip. In this article, we have compiled a list of time-lapse cameras for a variety of applications. Whether you’re documenting a cycling trip, shooting a rare flower, or documenting the construction of a new building, you’ll find the perfect model for every occasion.
Most professional cameras (open in new tab) and some camera phones (open in new tab) have some sort of time-lapse feature that allows you to take a series of photos at set time intervals and later combine them into a video. If you use your iPhone for photography, you may have noticed (opens in a new tab) that the iPhone’s Camera app has a particularly useful time-lapse feature that makes it easy to get started with this creative process.
In time-lapse photography, the speed at which the film frames are captured (frame rate) is much lower than the speed at which the video is viewed.
When viewed at medium speed, the flow of time appears to speed up or slow down.
Best Time Lapse Camera Outdoor
Table of Contents
To shoot good time-lapse video, you need a camera with the proper aperture, shutter speed, ISO range, focus, and time interval.
The frame rate of time-lapse video can be changed almost at will, from an almost average speed (24 to 30 frames per second) to one frame per day, week, or longer, depending on the subject.
With the right skills and equipment, any camera will work as a time-lapse camera. However, some cameras can easily capture spectacular time-compressed scenes. Time-lapse is the process of taking a series of several photos at regular intervals and compressing them to create a shorter image over a longer period of time.
This technique is useful for showing the progress of a long-term project, recording the movement of stars in the sky, or creating spectacular scenes that are far from reality.
Best Time Lapse Camera Outdoor | Comparison Table 2023
Best Time Lapse Camera Outdoor | Reviews 2023
How To Choose The Best Time Lapse Camera Outdoor | Ultimate Guide 2023
While the built-in time-lapse mode is great, there are many other considerations when looking for the best time-lapse camera. Here are some key specifications and features to consider when looking at the market
Traditionally, manual cameras required a stand-alone intervalometer to periodically shutter the camera. Today, many cameras have built-in time-lapse functionality, greatly simplifying the process and eliminating the need for additional equipment.
Some of the better built-in time-lapse modes include. It is best to choose a mode that offers flexibility in time-lapse format and the number of shots per minute.
Night photography can create truly astounding images, especially when the stars and their trails in the sky are captured before the shutter release. Shooting in the dark is another challenge, but choosing a camera body with strong low-light performance can be a big help.
It is not just a matter of finding a camera with a high maximum ISO. You want a camera that can produce clean images with low noise even at reasonably high ISO sensitivity. Full-size sensors generally work well in this regard but are not absolutely necessary. This list includes a mix of full-size, APS-C, micro four-thirds, and even smaller sensors.
Even cameras with built-in interval meters can have erratic, inconsistent, or flickering exposures. Some cameras have a feature called exposure smoothing that automatically adjusts the exposure for each frame, slowing the changes and making the result constant. For example, if you are shooting a sunrise, the exposure starts in the dark and ends in daylight.
This causes a large jump in an exposure. Unless you are constantly monitoring manually, you will want a camera that can automatically adjust to this change.
Shooting in real time puts a strain on the camera’s battery. It should be long enough to cover the entire shooting. Also, many cameras charge via USB-C, but you cannot rely on a portable power bank or another power source to charge in the field. Some may allow external power sources if they are powered directly from an outlet, but that is not very practical in the field.
Time-lapse video vs. traditional time-lapse
Some cameras offer a simple intervalometer that takes a representative picture at a certain rate as the scene unfolds before you. At the end of this process, you are left with a collection of ordinary (perhaps raw) photos that video editing software can turn into clips. Some cameras skip the traditional photo step and stitch the photos together into a video clip.
This saves you the trouble of creating your own clips later in the software. If you need maximum control, a single photo method may be preferable. It is also useful when you want to express the movement that occurs within a frame by stacking multiple identical files, as in exposure stacking; this technique is often used to capture the light trails of stars that would be impossible with a single long exposure; it can also be used to create a single exposure of a single star, which is not possible with a long exposure of a single star.
Maximum number of shots
The camera usually sets a maximum number of shots when it is in time-lapse mode. This is often less than 1,000 pictures. If you want to do more than what is built into the camera, you will need additional equipment.
Time-lapse photography is often done outdoors, where wind and rain can be a problem. Even if it is not raining, sudden changes in temperature and humidity can damage equipment. Purchasing waterproof equipment can make a big difference in your time-lapse photography experience.
How to Choose a Time Lapse Camera
I have been in the photography business as a photographer and editor for nearly 20 years, and I have spent much of that time in this popular photography business. I have used and reviewed most of the major cameras released in the last few years.
I am a real geek when it comes to trying out all the features of a camera. This article is based on a combination of personal experience, industry knowledge, editorial reviews, user comments, and spec comparisons.
Although I focused on cameras with the most advanced built-in time-lapse features, I also made a comprehensive judgment of the camera’s performance. Time-lapse is usually only one part of what people do with their cameras.
We have broken it down by system because many people already have a lens and don’t want to change it. However, if you are looking to buy a system and want the best time-lapse capabilities, Nikon and Sony (in that order) do a great job.
What To Look For In A Time-Lapse Camera
Many cameras have time-lapse capabilities, but most are not capable of recording for long periods of time. There are several points to consider when selecting the best time-lapse construction camera.
Type Of Time-Lapse System
There are three types of time-lapse systems:
DIY systems, all-in-one systems, and large professional systems.
DIY systems help reduce costs but are not recommended unless you are a time-lapse camera expert.
All-in-one systems are small and compact, requiring much less installation space and time.
Larger systems for professional use are more expensive, but they are equipped with professional time-lapse systems that work well with professional cameras.
Both professional and DIY systems require a larger power supply, but professional systems can use solar power. Solar panels or batteries may need to be installed or AC power may need to be used.
All-in-one systems, which most often require dual-A batteries and can be used for up to 60 days, are suitable for short-term projects.
Cloud Services And Branding
The ability to upload and manage photos online is also important for time-lapse cameras.
Some brands offer status reports, photo uploads, and remote camera settings. Others allow you to manage galleries, compare photos, and search and find images online.
How much does a time-lapse camera cost?
Most modern cameras, including SLRs and mirrorless cameras, already have built-in time-lapse capabilities. Prices range from under $1,000 to over $5,000; GoPro is a great place to start with time-lapse, with the latest models starting at $399. Some dedicated time-lapse cameras are designed to follow a scene over a longer period of time, rather than for artistic productions. They are intended for commercial areas such as construction sites. Prices range from $200 to $600.
How do you shoot time-lapse?
Time-lapse photography is a technique that could be the subject of a whole book. But it is easy to get started by experimenting. Check your camera’s manual for instructions on how to activate the time-lapse feature. If reading the manual is too difficult, you may be able to find these features by digging through the menus. Experiment with different intervals.
If you are shooting slow-moving objects, increase the interval. For fast-moving scenes, shorter intervals are appropriate.
How long is the video recording time?
Some cameras limit the time-lapse function to 99 minutes or 99 seconds, while others limit it too much longer periods of time: hours, weeks, or days. Of course, recording all of these images requires a continuous power supply and sufficient memory card capacity. A dedicated time-lapse camera can be used for up to a year with sufficient batteries.
Which Camera Is Good For Time-Lapse?
When it comes to choosing a camera for time-lapse photography, there are several factors to consider, such as image quality, interval timer features, battery life, and lens options. Here are a few cameras that are popular choices for time-lapse photography:
- Nikon D850 – This full-frame DSLR camera has the excellent image quality and a built-in interval timer that can take up to 9,999 shots with intervals ranging from one second to 24 hours. It also has a long battery life, allowing you to shoot for hours without interruption.
- Canon EOS 5D Mark IV – Another popular full-frame DSLR camera, the 5D Mark IV has a built-in intervalometer and offers excellent image quality. It also has a touchscreen LCD that makes it easy to set up and preview your time-lapse shots.
- Sony a7 III – This mirrorless camera offers excellent image quality, and its intervalometer can take up to 999 shots with intervals ranging from one second to 60 minutes. It also has a compact size and lightweight design, making it easy to carry around for outdoor time-lapse photography.
- GoPro HERO9 Black – This action camera is designed specifically for outdoor time-lapse photography and has a built-in interval timer that can take up to 1,200 shots with intervals ranging from 0.5 to 60 seconds. It is also waterproof and has excellent stabilization features, making it ideal for time-lapse videos of outdoor adventures.
Ultimately, the best camera for time-lapse photography depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors like image quality, interval timer features, battery life, and portability when making your decision.
Is A Gopro Good For Time-Lapse?
Yes, GoPro cameras are excellent for time-lapse photography. In fact, GoPro cameras are often used for outdoor time-lapse photography and can capture stunning time-lapse sequences of natural landscapes, sunrises, sunsets, and other outdoor activities.
One of the advantages of GoPro cameras for time-lapse photography is their compact size and lightweight design, which makes them easy to carry around and mount in various locations. They also have a built-in intervalometer that can take up to 1,200 shots with intervals ranging from 0.5 to 60 seconds, allowing you to capture a wide range of time-lapse sequences.
In addition, many GoPro cameras have excellent stabilization features that help minimize camera shake and vibrations, resulting in smooth and stable time-lapse videos. GoPro cameras are also waterproof, making them ideal for capturing time-lapse sequences in wet and rugged environments.
Overall, if you are looking for a camera that can capture stunning time-lapse sequences of outdoor activities, a GoPro camera is an excellent choice.
What Is The Best Budget Camera Time-Lapse?
If you’re looking for a budget camera for time-lapse photography, there are several options to consider. Here are a few cameras that offer excellent value for their price:
- Fujifilm X-T200 – This mirrorless camera offers excellent image quality and has a built-in interval timer that can take up to 999 shots with intervals ranging from one second to 24 hours. It also has a lightweight and compact design, making it easy to carry around for outdoor time-lapse photography.
- Canon EOS Rebel T7 – This entry-level DSLR camera has a built-in interval timer and offers good image quality for its price range. It also has a long battery life and is compatible with a wide range of lenses, allowing you to customize your time-lapse shots.
- Panasonic Lumix FZ80 – This bridge camera offers a lot of features for its price range, including a built-in interval timer and a long zoom range that allows you to capture a wide variety of time-lapse sequences. It also has a lightweight and compact design, making it easy to carry around.
- Nikon COOLPIX B500 – This superzoom camera offers a lot of value for its price range, including a built-in interval timer and a long zoom range that allows you to capture time-lapse sequences from a distance. It also has a lightweight and ergonomic design, making it easy to use for extended periods.
Ultimately, the best budget camera for time-lapse photography depends on your specific needs and preferences. Consider factors like image quality, interval timer features, battery life, and portability when making your decision.
Do You Need A Special Camera For Time-Lapse?
You don’t necessarily need a special camera for time-lapse photography. Most modern cameras, including DSLRs, mirrorless cameras, point-and-shoot cameras, and even smartphones, have a built-in intervalometer that allows you to take a series of still photos at a set interval. You can then combine these still photos to create a time-lapse video using software like Adobe Premiere Pro, Final Cut Pro, or even free software like Time-Lapse Assembler.
That said, some cameras are better suited for time-lapse photography than others. For example, cameras with high-resolution sensors, good dynamic range, and low-light performance are better at capturing high-quality still images that can be combined into a time-lapse video. Cameras with long battery life and a lightweight and compact design are also more convenient for outdoor time-lapse photography.
In addition, some cameras have built-in time-lapse modes that make it easy to set up and capture time-lapse sequences without the need for additional software. These modes often have features like exposure smoothing, which helps to minimize flicker in the final time-lapse video and interval timer shooting options that allow you to take a specific number of shots at a set interval.
Ultimately, the best camera for time-lapse photography depends on your specific needs and preferences. While you don’t need a special camera for time-lapse, having a camera that is well-suited to this type of photography can help you capture high-quality time-lapse videos more easily and efficiently.
How Long Is A 1-Hour Time-Lapse?
The duration of a time-lapse video depends on several factors, including the interval between shots and the frame rate used to create the final video.
Assuming a standard frame rate of 30 frames per second (fps), here are the approximate time durations of time-lapse videos for different intervals between shots:
- 1-second interval: 2 minutes 40 seconds
- 2-second interval: 5 minutes 20 seconds
- 5-second interval: 13 minutes 20 seconds
- 10-second interval: 26 minutes 40 seconds
- 30-second interval: 1 hour 20 minutes
- 60-second interval: 2 hours 40 minutes
These are just approximate durations, and the actual duration may vary depending on the specific settings used and the length of the time-lapse sequence. It’s worth noting that longer intervals between shots will result in a shorter time-lapse video, while shorter intervals will result in a longer time-lapse video.
How Many Seconds Is Best For Time-Lapse?
The interval between shots in a time-lapse sequence depends on what you’re trying to capture and the effect you want to achieve. In general, a shorter interval between shots will result in a more fluid and smoother time-lapse sequence, while a longer interval will create a choppier effect.
A common interval used for time-lapse photography is around 1-5 seconds, but this can vary depending on the specific situation. For example, if you’re capturing the movement of clouds or stars, a longer interval (10-30 seconds or more) may be more appropriate.
It’s also worth noting that the interval you choose will affect the overall length of your time-lapse sequence. A shorter interval between shots will result in a longer time-lapse video, while a longer interval will result in a shorter video.
Ultimately, the best interval for time-lapse photography depends on the specific subject you’re capturing, the speed of its movement, and the final effect you want to achieve. It may take some experimentation to find the best interval for your specific situation.
Can Gopro Record For 2 Hours?
The recording time of a GoPro camera depends on several factors, including the model of the camera, the settings used, and the battery life.
Most GoPro cameras have a maximum battery life of around 1-2 hours, depending on the settings used. However, this can vary depending on factors such as the temperature, the age of the battery, and the use of features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, and image stabilization.
Some newer GoPro models, such as the HERO9 Black and HERO10 Black, have larger batteries that can provide longer recording times, up to around 2.5 hours with the right settings. However, recording at higher resolutions and frame rates or using features such as Hypersmooth stabilization can decrease the battery life.
If you need to record for longer periods of time, you can use an external power source or a portable charger to keep the camera running. You can also use the GoPro’s time-lapse feature to capture a longer period of time in a shorter video, or use multiple batteries and swap them out as needed.
Which GoPro Is Best For Timelapse?
Most GoPro cameras are capable of capturing time-lapse sequences, but some models have features that make them better suited for this type of photography.
The GoPro HERO10 Black is currently the most advanced model, offering 5.3K resolution video, improved HyperSmooth 4.0 stabilization, and an improved TimeWarp mode, which can record time-lapse sequences at up to 30x speed. The HERO10 Black also has a longer battery life compared to previous models, which is useful for extended time-lapse sequences.
The GoPro HERO9 Black is also a good option for time-lapse photography, offering 5K resolution video, improved HyperSmooth 3.0 stabilization, and an improved TimeWarp mode. The HERO9 Black also has a larger battery capacity compared to previous models, which can be useful for extended time-lapse sequences.
Other GoPro models, such as the HERO8 Black and HERO7 Black, are also capable of capturing high-quality time-lapse sequences and may be more affordable options. These models offer 4K resolution video, HyperSmooth stabilization, and a variety of time-lapse modes, including TimeWarp, Night Lapse, and Time Lapse Video.
Ultimately, the best GoPro for time-lapse photography depends on your specific needs and budget. Consider factors such as resolution, battery life, and features like stabilization and time-lapse modes when choosing a GoPro for this type of photography.
What Is The Longest Time-Lapse With Gopro?
The length of a time-lapse sequence captured with a GoPro camera depends on several factors, such as the interval between shots, the battery life of the camera, and the available storage space on the memory card.
There is no specific limit to the length of a time-lapse sequence that can be captured with a GoPro camera, but it’s important to keep in mind the battery life and storage capacity. Most GoPro cameras can record for up to 2 hours on a single battery charge, but this can vary depending on the camera model and the settings used. If you need to capture a longer sequence, you can use an external power source or replace the battery as needed.
In terms of storage capacity, the length of a time-lapse sequence will depend on the resolution and frame rate used. For example, a 64GB memory card can store approximately 3 hours of 1080p footage at 30fps, but only around 45 minutes of 4K footage at 30fps.
Overall, the length of the longest time-lapse sequence captured with a GoPro camera will depend on the specific situation and the available resources, such as battery life and storage capacity.
Which Time-Lapse Is Faster?
In time-lapse photography, the speed of the time-lapse sequence depends on the interval between shots and the playback speed of the final video.
The interval between shots determines how quickly the action appears to be moving in the final sequence. A shorter interval between shots will create a faster time-lapse sequence, while a longer interval will create a slower sequence. For example, if you take a photo every 1 second, the final time-lapse sequence will be faster than if you take a photo every 10 seconds.
The playback speed of the final video also affects the perceived speed of the time-lapse sequence. A faster playback speed will make the sequence appear to move more quickly, while a slower playback speed will make it appear to move more slowly.
Ultimately, the speed of a time-lapse sequence depends on the specific situation and the effect you want to achieve. You can experiment with different intervals and playback speeds to create a time-lapse sequence that best captures the action you are trying to show.
How Do You Shoot A Perfect Timelapse?
Shooting a perfect time-lapse involves several important steps. Here are some tips for capturing a great time-lapse:
- Plan your shot: Choose a location with an interesting subject and a good vantage point, and consider factors such as lighting, weather, and the movement of the subject.
- Set up your camera: Use a tripod or other stable support to keep your camera steady, and frame your shot carefully. Use manual focus to ensure that the focus is consistent throughout the sequence.
- Choose your settings: Set your camera to manual mode and adjust the exposure settings to capture the scene as desired. Consider using a low ISO to minimize noise and a narrow aperture to increase the depth of field.
- Choose the interval: Choose the interval between shots based on the speed of the action and the desired effect. A shorter interval will create a faster time-lapse sequence, while a longer interval will create a slower sequence.
- Start the sequence: Once you have set up your camera, start the time-lapse sequence and let it run for the desired length of time.
- Edit your footage: Use editing software to compile your sequence and adjust the playback speed as desired. You can also add music or other effects to enhance the final product.
- Export and share: Export the final sequence in a suitable format and share it with others!
Remember, practice and experimentation are key to capturing the perfect time-lapse sequence. Keep trying different settings, intervals, and techniques until you find what works best for your specific situation.
What Camera Can Record Longer Than 30 Minutes?
Most cameras have a recording limit of 30 minutes or less due to technical and legal limitations. The technical limitation is due to the camera’s sensor overheating and the need to prevent damage to the camera. The legal limitation is related to taxes and tariffs on video cameras that are classified as “video cameras” instead of “still cameras,” which have different tariffs in some countries.
However, some cameras can bypass the 30-minute recording limit by designating themselves as “still cameras” instead of “video cameras.” This means that they do not trigger the tax and tariff classification that limits video recording times. Some examples of cameras that can record for longer than 30 minutes include:
- Sony A7S III
- Sony A7R IV
- Panasonic Lumix GH5
- Fujifilm X-T4
It’s worth noting that even cameras that can record for longer than 30 minutes may still have limitations on the length of the video they can record, such as battery life and available storage space.
How Many Photos Do I Need For A Time-Lapse?
The number of photos you need for a time-lapse depends on several factors, including the length of the final sequence and the interval between shots.
To determine the number of photos needed, you can use the following formula:
(Number of seconds in final sequence) / (interval between shots in seconds) = (total number of shots)
For example, if you want to create a 30-second time-lapse sequence with an interval of 5 seconds between shots, you would need a total of 6 shots:
30 seconds / 5 seconds = 6 shots
However, keep in mind that this is just a basic calculation and the number of shots required may vary depending on the specific situation. It’s always a good idea to take extra photos to have more footage to work with during the editing process. Additionally, consider shooting in RAW format to give yourself more flexibility during post-processing.
Does Timelapse Take A Lot Of Battery?
Time-lapse photography can be power-intensive, particularly if you are using a camera with a high-resolution sensor or a camera that is recording video. The amount of battery used during a time-lapse depends on several factors, including the camera model, the interval between shots, the length of the time-lapse, and the camera’s settings.
Here are some tips to help conserve battery life during time-lapse photography:
- Use a timer remote: A timer remote allows you to set the interval between shots and minimize the need to physically interact with the camera, reducing the battery drain.
- Lower the display brightness: Reducing the display brightness can help conserve battery life during a time-lapse.
- Use an external power source: Consider using an external power source, such as a power bank or AC adapter, to power your camera during the time-lapse. This can help ensure that your camera has sufficient power to complete the time-lapse sequence.
- Turn off unnecessary features: Turn off features such as Wi-Fi, GPS, or image stabilization if they are not needed for the time-lapse sequence.
- Use a lower resolution: Shooting at a lower resolution can reduce the amount of processing required and help conserve battery life.
By taking these steps, you can help ensure that your camera has enough battery life to complete the time-lapse sequence without interruption.
What Does 4k Time-Lapse Mean?
4K time-lapse refers to time-lapse photography that has a resolution of 4K, which is a resolution of approximately 3840 x 2160 pixels. This resolution is also known as Ultra High Definition (UHD) and provides four times the resolution of Full HD (1080p).
A 4K time-lapse can capture a stunning amount of detail, allowing you to create a high-quality time-lapse video with crisp, clear images. 4K time-lapse sequences can be especially effective when used in projects such as nature documentaries, cityscapes, and architectural photography.
Keep in mind that creating a 4K time-lapse requires a camera that can shoot in 4K resolution and sufficient storage space to accommodate the large files that result from shooting in 4K. Additionally, creating a time-lapse in 4K resolution may require more processing power and time during the editing process.
Purchasing a good all-in-one time-lapse camera will allow you to document construction in an attractive way. Choose a time-lapse camera with high video and photo resolution and advanced features that allow you to easily manage the images you capture.
In most cases, if the camera’s battery life is short, attaching a mini battery and a 5V solar panel will significantly extend battery life. To find the best camera, define your requirements and choose the right time-lapse camera for your project.