What is an Intervalometer?
An intervalometer connects to your camera and controls how many shots to take, how long the shutter is open, and the interval between each shot. These are controlled by programming the device to achieve the results you want. An intervalometer is very helpful for taking time-lapse photos or long exposures for night photography. I’m using readily available and affordable tools to show you what you can do with a little ingenuity. In this post I’ll be reviewing the intervalometer I use to take lightning photos after dark.
Things to Consider Before You Purchase An Intervalometer
Before you purchase this accessory you need to consider 2 things. First, you need a camera that can accept a remote shutter release. If you aren’t sure consult your camera manual or do a search online. If your camera has a connection for a remote shutter release you are good to go. When you are searching for the release, make sure it says it is for your particular brand and model of camera. As an example, I use a Canon 70D and a Canon 5Ds. Both have connectors for a remote shutter release. However, the 70D uses a single pin plug, while the 5Ds uses a 3 pin plug. You can also purchase intervalometers with the exact connector needed for other camera brands, such as Nikon and Sony.
Setting Up The Device
Once you have your intervalometer in hand, it’s time to set it up and go out and take some images. I use mine for both lightning images at night and long exposures of the night sky. For more tips on lightning photography click here.
In the image above I have placed 2 AAA batteries by removing the rear battery cover. Once you have batteries installed the device will power on or you may need to hold down the button on the left to power on the device. I suggest removing the batteries after each shooting session to extend battery life if your device stays powered on when the batteries are inserted. A fresh set of batteries will last you multiple long shooting sessions if you remove them between sessions.
Pressing the “Set” button in the center of the scroll wheel allows you to scroll between settings. The long black bar above the numbers indicates which setting you are currently adjusting. In the sample shot above I have set the length of time the shutter is open time to 30 seconds. These are the settings:
- Delay- lets you set the length of the delay between each shot.
- Long- This lets you set the length of time the shutter is open for long exposure shots. I’ve found that 30 seconds is a good setting for lightning at night. For sky shots, 12-20 seconds prevents star trails.
- Interval- This lets you set the interval between shots. For lightning, I usually set this at 1 second.
- Number- The number of shots to take in a sequence. Programmable from 1-99. Some models will let you set it to unlimited.
The shot above was taken at night using and intervalometer.
Is it affordable?
At the time of this writing, the device retails for $21.99 through Amazon. I believe this is quite affordable for the average photographer who wants to try out long exposure photography at night. You can also do long exposure shots during daylight by purchasing a 10x ND filter. This is the subject of a future article.
If you want to learn more and take your photography journey to the next level you might like the Photography Master Class. This video course will definitely help you on your journey to be a better photographer.
Check out more great photography tips on our Photography Tips & Tricks page.