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What the heck is an intervalometer? Sounds like something from science class. "Hey Jim, pass me the intervalometer so I can measure the newtonian interference patterns." Actually, it comes from the root word "interval", and that's the key.

An intervalometer is essentially a fancy timer for your camera. Like your built-in timer, an intervalometer can delay for a specified amount of time, allowing you to get into the shot, before taking an exposure. More than that, an intervalometer can also control how many exposures are taken, allowing you to take multiple pictures of yourself, and how long it waits between each exposure, allowing you time to fix your hair. Sounds perfect for a narcissist.

My wife bought me Canon's TC80N3 intervalometer (Wow! Such an impressive product name.) The TC80N3 allows me to do all the typical intervalometer functions, and works as a corded shutter release (with hold switch) as well. The truth is, it's a pretty simple device (despite its name), and can be very handy in certain situations. Let's explore:

Scenario 1

Suppose you are taking a group shot at a family reunion (please accept my sympathies). You need to be in the shot too, even though you'd rather not admit to being part of this motley crew. Put your camera on a tripod, connect your intervelometer, set it for 30 seconds (so you have plenty of time to yell at those nieces and nephews that are trying to give each other cooties), and push the button. Take your place in the lineup, and wait for the CLICK.

Scenario 2

You go back to the camera, look at the review screen, and notice that Grandma had her eyes closed. If only you had another image to choose from. Now you're never going to get them back exactly the way they were before. Intervalometer to the rescue! This time, set the intervalometer to take 10 exposures. CLICK-CLICK-CLICK.... and we're done. Now you can pick and choose the best parts from each image. All without having to run back to the camera each time.

Scenario 3

Suppose it's the night of the big lunar eclipse. Unfortunately, it begins at 3:00am. No problem, just set your trusty intervalometer to wake up and start taking pictures while you sleep. But the real problem is that the eclipse is relatively slow, and you don't want to take 10,000 exposures just to catch it all. Again, intervalometer to the rescue. If the eclipse takes 2 hours from start to finish, set the timer for the appropriate start time, set the interval to something like 5 minutes, and set the number of exposures to 25 or so, and you're done!

With the TC80N3, all sensible combinations are enabled, so you can mix and match your delay, interval, and number of exposures to your heart's content. The only thing limiting you is your own imagination.

How would you use an intervalometer?


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Reader Comments (1)

Intervalometers have been bothering me quite a lot recently. I want to create a time-lapse movie using my Digital SLR camera. A few years back I did time-lapse stuff by elaborate means involving servos attached to solar powered picaxe micro-controllers pushing buttons on cameras.

After researching this area again recently I have found that all you need to remote control a Canon DLSR camera is a 2.5mm stereo jack and standard TTL (Transistor to Transistor Logic) connections. I have some jacks on order but I was amazed to find this project

Its something the size of a 2.5mm connector which records the time between shot 1 and shot 2 then then repeats this interval until you stop it. Super simple... almost no user interface other than what you already understand. Intuitive and cheap. If they mass produced this I'd buy it in an instant... I find it amazing that an individual can create something as neat as this and for some reason camera manufacturers did not.

October 4, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRobin

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