What is the essential time lapse equipment? Photography equipment is expensive, even used equipment does not come cheaply. Therefore it is crucial that you spend your money wisely. Everyone has their own favourite manufacturer and you could argue that most of them do the same thing, so I am not going to recommend a particular camera or lens. I am just going to write about what you should consider when making a purchase.
Ideally choose a DSLR camera with a full frame sensor. This will let you shoot large RAW files, enabling post-production work whilst maintaining the ultimate image quality. To create a time lapse video the original RAW image files have to be cropped from 2:3 to 16:9. I then make a number of adjustments in Lightroom before I create the final time lapse sequences in LRTimelapse, so it makes sense to start with the best quality image file possible. You get what you pay for. The top end DSLR cameras are well built from strong, robust materials. This is as important, if not more so than the numerous functions they feature!
This is the best investment you can make. A pin sharp, high quality lens made from the best glass will last for a long time. You could also say it is future proof as it does not feature much electronic technology. If looked after and regularly serviced a good lens will not degrade. Regular servicing will ensure it is clean on the inside and the f-stops will remain accurate. Old Nikon and Canon lenses are particularly sought after because of their quality and build. Great optics will give you great image quality. There is no point buying a high quality camera and then fixing a poor quality lens on the front!
Tripod technology is not going to change much as it is purely a mechanical piece of kit, no electronics to worry about. You need a sturdy, well made, heavy tripod. Lightweight carbon tripods are a dream to carry (especially at my age) but maybe not heavy enough to prevent your camera moving in a strong wind? It may cost you a lot of money to buy a great tripod, but you will never need to buy another one! It is certainly worth seeking out a good quality used tripod.
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NEW OR USED EQUIPMENT?
Unfortunately good quality photography equipment does not come cheaply. A great camera with lenses and a tripod will cost you thousands, not hundreds. So what are your options when buying equipment? My advice…always buy the best equipment you can’t afford! What do I mean by that? In the long run, it is worth spending more then you originally wanted to so you can get the equipment that will give you the best possible results. Buying inferior equipment because it is cheaper will not. It is a false economy to purchase equipment that does not deliver the best quality but is affordable.
Always handle the equipment BEFORE you buy it. Check that all the functions work correctly.Regarding camera bodies, It is relatively easy to find out how many times the shutter has been released (these are called actuations). We have bought used cameras from WEX in the past and they have provided shutter counts on camera bodies. You can find out how to discover the shutter count on different camera models on the internet.
LOOK AFTER IT!
If you don’t look after your kit at some point it will let you down. When changing lenses try not to do this in a dusty, windy environment, and do it quickly. Dust is the enemy. You don’t want it on your sensor or on your glass elements within your lens. UV filters are ideal for keeping your front element spotless, it is cheaper to replace a UV filter than the lens!
This is our essential time lapse equipment. We hope it is helpful.