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Essentials: The Thrifty Time Lapser

by Chris Gampat on 07/23/2013

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (1 of 7)ISO 1001-1000 sec at f - 4.0

Essentials is a brand new series where we round up specially curated kits for different photographers in different situations. Other items could surely be substituted, but these are what we personally recommend.

Time lapsers love to get super technical and uber geeky about their creations. But we all need to start somewhere and some of us will need to reach for lower hanging fruit at one point or another. And as creatives, we also need to remember that it’s not always about the gear. By using a very minimalist kit, one can create a mesmerizing time lapse if they’ve got the vision and know how to execute it.

For the visionary, the modest creative, or the introductory shooter–here’s our specially curated essential kit.

Nikon D5200

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (3 of 7)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 4.0

 

For what it’s worth, the Nikon D5200 is the best bang for your buck camera that will offer the time lapse shooting ability. At its heart is a 24.2MP APS-C sensor–but trust us, you won’t need that many megapixels. If you’re shooting a time lapse, we strongly encourage you to shoot this camera in a smaller or medium JPEG mode.

If you’re looking to capture a sunset or something where the exposure changes greatly over a period of time, you won’t have that much of a tougher time. We suggest that you keep your aperture at the same setting and instead just adjust the shutter speed. But if you need to adjust the aperture, you’ll need to press one button and then manipulate the shutter dial.

The D5200 also sports a tilting LCD screen, which can make recording and changing settings so much easier. Plus, this camera has 39 autofocus points, but chances are that you’ll need only one.

Buy Now: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama

Tokina 12-28mm f4 AT-X

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (4 of 7)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 4.0

Tokina’s 12-28mm f4 was designed for use with an APS-C sensor DSLR. On the D5200, it will render a full frame equivalent field of view of approximately 18-40mm while maintaining  a constant f4 aperture throughout the zoom range. The fact that you can go from super wide to semi wide while keeping a constant aperture is a huge advantage for time lapse shooting.

But for what it’s worth, we don’t recommend changing your focal length while shooting.

This lens sports 9 aperture blades, a 77mm front filter thread, a snapback focusing ring, and some super sharp and contrasty optics that we’ve seen so far in our testing.

And for that price, you really can’t go wrong.

Buy Now: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama

Think Tank Retrospective 7

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (2 of 7)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 4.0

Though this bag was mostly designed for mirrorless camera users, it can more than hold an semi-entry level DSLR like the Nikon D5200. Think Tank’s Retrospective series are a beautiful and low profile line of canvas bags that don’t really look like camera bags, but totally are. On the inside you’ll find configurable dividers, lots of pockets, and more than enough room for more than just your camera gear.

Heck, you’ll be able to stuff a water bottle in here and still have lots of room for nearly anything else you could possibly need.

It does all of this, and still keeps the overall package down to a minimal and light configuration.

Buy Now: Amazon | B&H Photo | Adorama

Pro Tip: When shooting a time lapse, set your white balance manually before you start shooting. Otherwise, you'll have the possibilities of a random white balance shift in your stitched video later on.

Pro Tip: When shooting a time lapse, set your white balance manually before you start shooting. Otherwise, you’ll have the possibilities of a random white balance shift in your stitched video later on.

Minolta Auto IV Meter

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (6 of 7)ISO 1001-500 sec at f - 4.0

This is an oldie but a goodie: absolutely nothing can beat the performance of a handheld light meter–just ask all the experienced pros! While most modern cameras have a pretty darn complex metering system built in you should have this little handy device to accurately see and take note of how the light in a scene is changing.

As the lighting changes, you should make the according adjustments to your camera to get a better exposure and a smoother look overall in the final stitched together product.

The Minolta Auto IV light meter is by no where new, but many photographers still call it one of the best light meters ever made.

Buy Now: Amazon

Pro Tip: We very, very strongly recommend setting your exposure manually when shooting a time lapse. A camera's automatic metering system can otherwise throw the overall exposures off and produce what's called flicker. Using a program like Sequence to stitch your time lapse together can otherwise get rid of issues like this.

Pro Tip: We very, very strongly recommend setting your exposure manually when shooting a time lapse. A camera’s automatic metering system can otherwise throw the overall exposures off and produce what’s called flicker. Using a program like Sequence to stitch your time lapse together can otherwise get rid of issues like this.

Kupo Convi Clamp with Adjustable Handle, Threaded Mounting Plate and Benro BH0 Ballhead

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Essentials the Thrifty Timelapser (5 of 7)ISO 1001-640 sec at f - 4.0

This item was part of our hack on how to turn anything into a tripod for under $100. If you don’t want to lug around a tripod, this little hack can save loads of room in your camera bag and loads of miles on your back. This clamp was designed for studio use, but can be adapted to do lots of other things. When you combine it with a threaded mount, it can take a ballhead. We’re recommending this specific one from Benro because of its single action setup–which is all you’ll need to time lapse shooting anyway.

The Kupo Convo Clamp: $24 + Benro BH0 Ballhead: $47 + Threaded Mounting Plate = $86.00 + tax.

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