Happy Thanksgiving! Today is one of the best American holidays. Why is it so great? Unlike most holidays, Thanksgiving doesn’t involve gifts of any kind, so it doesn’t have songs on the radio, or TV ad blitzes, or massive displays in every storefront. Thanksgiving is simply a day when most people stop working and get together with their extended family to have a home cooked meal.
Rest assured, however, that the next day starts the Christmas rush in a big way. Black Friday, as it’s called, includes massive sales where the occasional person is trampled to death. In this spirit, I present my time-lapse photography Christmas wish list.
Micro Four Thirds Camera
Micro Four Thirds is a new standard in cameras that is quickly gaining popularity. In terms of price and image quality, micros are on par with entry level DSLRs such as the Canon Rebel. They’re distinguished from DSLRs by three factors: they’re closer in size to compact cameras, they take special lenses, and they don’t have moving mirrors.
So why buy a micro? The reason I find these cameras so exciting for time-lapse is they offer interchangeable lenses without the worry of mirror fatigue. Digital compacts offer great versatility in a small package but they either don’t offer interchangeable lenses or else require bulky adapters. DSLRs accept different lenses but the internal mirror wears out eventually. Time-lapse exacerbates this because a week of heavy shooting could mean 50K flips of the mirror.
I haven’t spent too much time looking into micros because I’m not in the market for a new camera just yet but they’ve already grabbed my attention. Rumor has it that Canon may be entering this arena sometime soon.
I haven’t used one of these yet, but I’m intrigued by what they can do. Some people have used them to capture 3-D images with a single camera or even live HDR video by using a similar device in reverse.
I’ll try to rent one before I buy because I’m still a bit skeptical.
Neutral Density Filters
These filters lower the amount of light entering the camera without changing the image color. They’re especially useful for time-lapse photography because they allow for longer exposures. This means water can go from choppy to looking like a fog or mist.
The grading of ND filters is a bit confusing, but they often come in 2x (lowers light by one stop), 4x (two stops), and 8x (three stops). For a more complete list, check out the wikipedia article.
It’s no secret I like Canon PowerShot cameras for their quality, reliability, and hackability. The reason I want a used one is so I don’t have to worry about destroying it if I attempt to remove the IR filter or decide to tie it to the front of my car.
If you read any blogs featuring hardware hacks or robots, you undoubtedly know that using an Arduino (ar-dwee-no) boosts geek cred significantly. The reason I want one is that, with some programming practice, I can use it for time-lapse pans, trolley shots, and as an intervalometer. I plan to buy one of these in the next year and hopefully write some articles and post code from my projects.
Used in conjunction with an Arduino, it’s possible to create time-lapse videos of plants by alternating a flash for the grow lights as done in this video from the BBC Life series.
Unfortunately for me, keeping house plants alive will take more work than learning the programming.
That’s it for my wish list for this year. For more reading, check out my article from last Christmas about how to pick a camera for time-lapse.