Time Lapse at weddings

Hey, years ago, at one of my first Bootcamps, Craig Strong - inventor of the Lensbaby, came to the workshop and shared his wedding time lapse movies. We all loved them and I started to play with them at my weddings too. Tomorrow, I'm shooting a fun wedding and I'll make a time lapse movie and post it back here so you can see what the result looks like. Craig gets so many folks asking about the best way to do the time lapse, what camera to use, etc. So he generously posted this info to our Bootcampers Facebook page. I've re-posted it here for others to use if you're interested in trying it as well. Thanks Craig!


What I do to make the best time lapse event photography (by Craig Strong):

Choose a Nikon camera with interval timer mode (every other brand I have tried has a very small limit on the number of images they will take before they need to be restarted, Nikon cameras have a limit of 1800 images, much more than needed for a wedding, before you have to restart the process).

I have used the 3700 and p5000 and they are good but discontinued. The Nikon P80, based on the manual I downloaded (http://support.nikontech.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/14558) is the best one on the market that looks like it will fit the bill for time lapse and has a wide angle lens (27mm). No idea on battery life though it uses the same battery as the 3700 and p5000 which I can get ~6.5 hours out of on a full battery shooting one per minute, ~3.5 hours at one every 30 seconds.

  1. Manual white balance, does not need to be custom, you can change that later, just don't use auto white balance.
  2. Flash off.
  3. Program mode.
  4. Center weighted metering or matrix metering, not spot metering.
  5. Underexpose your jpegs slightly (as always with jpegs), you can adjust them brighter in Lightroom but not darker.
  6. Use a low ISO, compare the ISOs on the camera you use at the size you will be shooting to see what is the highest ISO before the image gets grainy or soft. I generally shoot at 100 or 200 iso and let the shutter speed be as slow as it needs to be.
  7. Let the camera pick the focus point OR, even better, switch to Manual Focus mode (P80 has a Manual Focus mode, 3700, P5000, P5100 don't) and choose your focus distance (page 36 in the P80 manual).
  8. 1024x768 will be plenty unless they are planning on making HD presentations at 1080x1920 in which case they should shoot at 2048x1536. Shooting smaller than 1024x768 introduces a lot of jpeg artifacts on the Nikon cameras I use for time lapse.
  9. A 2mb card will work fine at 1024x768, get a 4mb or bigger if you are shooting 2048x1536.
  10. Joby Gorillapod is a good option though the joints can get loose on the small Gorillapod and the P80 looks like it might be a bit heavier than the P5000 so just make sure that it is a secure tripod for the amount of weight that you have on it.

Get your camera up high, I have used balcony railings, sconces (that are turned off), exit signs, trim above a doorway, window ledges. You probably won't be able to look at the back of the camera to get perfect framing so try a couple test shots with the camera at different angles in its final location before you make an educated guess on where the camera should be pointing.

Dealcam is a good source for finding good deals on cameras.