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05-01-2013, 02:00 AM   #1
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How to handle exposure in time lapse ?

I'm wondering what is your prefered method of compensating for exposure changes when you do long time lapses (sunset, sunrise, etc)? It is recommended to keep the shutter speed and aperture fixed during time lapse recording to avoid flickering in final result but that leaves you with just EV Comp and/or ISO to avoid getting an underexposed or overexposed shots that you will have to edit in post and that takes a lot of time when you have hundreds or thousands of shots.

Also having variable shutter speed could be a problem that if you lose darkness then subjects in your shots become blurred and/or you gain light then smoothness of movement becomes freezed up and it won't give your final video a smooth transition frame by frame. Having variable aperture gives you sharpness issues when losing light and/or loose bokeh (if thats what your looking for) when you gain light.

So by using Auto ISO (if available) in Manual mode you could compensate for big exposure changes, since EV Composition is not available. And very high ISO is not a big problem since you are resizing the images to HD for Full HD and it won't be all that noticeable (unless you also want to crop and/or pan video).

I would try for myself but I don't have a functional camera at this time.

05-01-2013, 04:26 AM   #2
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While I am not an expert on this subject I have taken a few timelapses.
I tend to go to full manual and set everything at the start and take a few test shots until I am happy with the focus, exposure and white balance.

It works well for me but having said that some swear by leaving the camera on an automatic exposure mode (typically Av) because Pentax is fairly stable with exposure adjustments. I have tried this but for the sort of scenes I have been shooting I'm not very happy with the shifting exposure. Sunsets tend to lend themselves to having everything fixed so that the sun retains the same appearance.
05-01-2013, 05:41 AM   #3
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No expert here either, but I tend to go the Av-route kiwi_jono already mentioned.

I've found that exposure is indeed stable enough to work with. And by that I mean stable enough for a program like LR timelapse to smoothen out any flickering that might (and will) occur while keeping a natural look.

Ultimately it depends on what kind of look you're aiming to achieve: Personally I like shooting this way during a sunset as it will show more details in of what is going on in the dark (which depends on your subject really). Moreover, having exposure times go up leads to more motion in the images (such as lighttrails of cars driving by).
05-01-2013, 08:42 AM   #4
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I was considering bracketing as a solution. In my case, the timelapse shots are over a month, hoping to show trees leafing out. I'll have hours between shots so I can take a few extra. Then I can throw out frames that don't work. My timelapse will look better if exposure varies somewhat. I can't tell if it will work until I try it.

05-01-2013, 06:35 PM   #5
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It depends on what result you want.

If you have big transitions you might want to use an automatic mode because at night it could be to dark to see anything ot at day it could be to bright.
Av would be the way to go with large metering area so not spot metering.

For short timelaps you could go full manual to show the difference in light intensitie.
05-02-2013, 01:25 AM   #6
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So looks like everyone would sacrifice shutter speed for fixed ISO ... hmmmm ?!? Thinking of getting a camera just for time-lapse, a used Pentax K200D and a weather sealed lens for the unpredictable weather here in Sicily, and the grip so I can use 8 lithium batteries to get as much battery life as possible ... would you recommend something else, maybe a Pentax ist D(L/S) because they are cheaper and there's no need for high MP count.
05-02-2013, 02:34 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by RaZZ3R Quote
So looks like everyone would sacrifice shutter speed for fixed ISO ... hmmmm ?!?
I believe that this is also known as "dragging the shutter". Static objects will appear the same anyway, but object in motion will have motion blur. I find that this makes the resulting time lapse look much smoother which is more pleasing to the eye.
05-02-2013, 03:25 AM   #8
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I would use Av with auto iso.
You're using the K200D and assuming you would make a HD movie you can easily use ISO800

05-02-2013, 03:26 AM   #9
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but it really depends on the citcumstances, you probably don't want to use shutterspeeds of 20 seconds at night.
05-02-2013, 05:55 AM   #10
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
I would use Av with auto iso.
You're using the K200D and assuming you would make a HD movie you can easily use ISO800

but it really depends on the citcumstances, you probably don't want to use shutterspeeds of 20 seconds at night.
Resizing from 10MP to 2MP will make even ISO 3200 very usable (more so after they'ved been cleaned with LR4). It would have been nice if, somehow, we could force to up the ISO without changing the shutter speed and only after reaching the max ISO to "drag" the shutter speed to a maximum selectable (max 20 sec. at night with a FL of 20-30mm, unless you want star trails).
05-02-2013, 06:58 AM   #11
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Yes precisely and because you only see 1 photo for tenth the noise will be even less.

With the K5 you can select how the program behave in that regard, so either be more aggressiveness with the ISO or shutterspeed or strike a balance.
05-02-2013, 08:56 AM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
With the K5 you can select how the program behave in that regard, so either be more aggressiveness with the ISO or shutter speed or strike a balance.
That's awesome but a 700 Euro's DSLR being left in the woods (or other places) for very long exposures would break my heart and my pocket, a 150-200 Euro's used DSLR is something different wouldn't it ?
05-02-2013, 10:24 AM   #13
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Mhmm indeed, it's the cheapest WR option
You also need a WR lens btw but it then still not 100% weather proof though, only resitant so a good rainstorm might end the fun.
05-02-2013, 11:04 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by Anvh Quote
Mhmm indeed, it's the cheapest WR option
You also need a WR lens btw but it then still not 100% weather proof though, only resitant so a good rainstorm might end the fun.
A bag of plastic and some duct tape would resolve the problem, but the WR is more so needed against long-term moist deposit and fogging. There is also K10D but I have yet to find one. A WR lens is not much of a problem since its about 100-150 euros new and 50-100 euros used.
05-02-2013, 02:25 PM   #15
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There is very little between the K200D and the K10D, these were great camera's and many are holding on to them including me.
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