A Brief Intro to Interval Timer Photography vs. Time-Lapse Photography

As I am working on my guide to the Nikon D600, Nikon D600 Experience, I realize that it may be very helpful to Nikon users to briefly explain the difference between Interval Timer Photography and Time-Lapse Photography. In the Nikon D600, these features are found in the Shooting Menu.

Interval Timer Shooting

This is used to take a continuous series of photographs at each specified time interval, for a set number of intervals, with the intervals to begin either immediately or at a set time (see Figure 1). It can be used to take these multiple series of shots over several minutes or hours. This is a bit different than the Time-Lapse Photography option (just below) in that Interval Timer Shooting can be used to capture not just one but rather a series of photos at each interval – for example, 4 photos in a row every 10 minutes, for 2 intervals. This will result in a total of 8 photos, as the camera will calculate and show you.

Nikon d600 interval timer vs time lapse photography shooting difference
Figure 1 – Interval Timer Shooting menu, showing 4 shots to be taken each interval, for 2 intervals, for a total of 8 shots. The intervals are to start immediately, with the time between intervals as 10 minutes. The current time is 22:50.

First choose to begin the Interval Timer Shooting immediately (Now), or at a set Start Time. Press left and right on the Multi Selector to navigate through these menus and up and down to set the desired times and numbers.

Next set the Interval, or time period between when each series of shots is taken. Then set the number of intervals (Select no. of times) and the number of shots to be taken at the start of each interval (no. of shots). Press right again when done with the settings, and select On to begin the Interval Timer shooting.

Ideally, set up your camera on a tripod for the duration of Interval Timer Shooting. Note that you cannot use Live View, and that each series of shots will be taken at the frames-per-second rate of the current Release Mode (or the Continuous Low rate if set for Single Frame), although this rate may be limited by a slower shutter speed setting. You can combine Bracketing with this function. Press the OK Button between intervals to pause or stop the process. The camera will need to focus before taking the shots, so it may be best to pre-focus the camera and then set the camera and lens to manual focus.

Time-Lapse Photography

This differs from the above Interval Timer Shooting in that it is used to take a series of individual photos over an extended period of minutes or hours that are then combined into a time-lapse movie (see Figure 2). Thus only one photo is taken at each interval – for example, one photo every 10 seconds, for 8 hours. The resulting movie will use the frame rate setting from the Movie Settings (also in the Shooting Menu), and thus that setting (24fps, 30fps, etc.) will determine to total length of the movie. If 24fps was used in the above example, the resulting movie would be 2 minutes, as the camera will thankfully calculate for you in this menu.

Nikon d600 interval timer vs time lapse photography shooting difference
Figure 2 – Time-Lapse Photography menu – here the camera is set up to take an image every 5 seconds (the Interval), over a period of 25 minutes (the Shooting time). Since the movie frame rate is set at 24fps, the final movie will be 12.6 seconds long (Length recorded). The maximum possible length of a movie here is shown to be 38 minutes and 15 seconds based on the space left on the memory card as shown at the bottom, though note that the actual maximum length of any movie is 20 minutes.

To set up this function, access Time-Lapse Photography in the Shooting Menu.

Press right on the Multi Selector to access the settings, then press right or left to navigate to the various settings, and up and down to change the numbers and times. First set the Interval or time period between each shot. Then set the total Shooting time. You need to set short Intervals and a long Shooting Time to create a lengthy final time-lapse movie.

When done with the settings, press right on the Multi Selector and choose On. The time-lapse shooting will begin after 3 seconds. Again, be sure to set up the camera on a tripod for the duration of the shooting. When the shooting is complete, the resulting movie will be saved to the memory card selected in the Shooting Menu under Movie Settings in the Destination option.

If you wish to calculate the total length of a resulting time-lapse movie without entering the numbers into the camera, you can use the formula below, or use a time-lapse calculator available online or as an app.

Time-Lapse Formula:

trt = H * 3600 / I *FR

trt= Total Running Time in seconds.

H= Total Hours taken for time lapse in real time.

I= Interval in Seconds between photographs.

FR= Frame Rate in which pictures will be displayed (24, 25, 30, 60 etc.).

So for the settings in Figure 202:

trt = 7.5 * 3600 / 30 * 24

trt = 37.5 seconds (shown on the camera as 37.6”)

As you can see, it is easier to just get an app for this! Note that the total maximum length for a movie is limited to 20 minutes. Be sure to replace the Viewfinder eyecup with the Eyepiece Cap provided with your camera to block stray light from entering the camera during this process. Press the OK Button or turn the camera off to stop the time-lapse process. As with Interval Timer Photography, the camera will need to focus before taking each shot, so it may be best to pre-focus the camera and then set the camera and lens to manual focus.

Both Interval Timer Photography and Time-Lapse Photography and their various settings and options are explained in more detail in the Interval and Time-Lapse Shooting section of the Nikon D600 Experience e-book user’s guide.

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2 comments

  1. me gustaría comprar este libro, Nikon D600 Experience, en español ¿Es posible?

    1. Lo siento, pero ofrezco los libros en Ingles, solamente.

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