TimeLapse – Interval Timer Shooting

Time lapse photography is a technique used in cinematography which comprises of the tampering of the frequency at which film frames are captured. In this particular technique, the frame rate is much lower than that of the normal rate. In fact, time lapse causes the playback rate to be faster than that of the speed of time in the actual world.

When the playback of the captured shots are seen at the normal speed and the normal frame rate, one will see that the speed of actual time i.e. time in the real world is moving at the normal speed, while the time speed in the camera is lapsing or time is moving faster.

Therefore, images that were captured over a period of a whole week maybe, when viewed at the time lapse frame rate will be seen to just hurtling away as if in high speed. Thus, we can determine from the above results that have been demonstrated that time lapse photography is the exact opposite of high speed photography.

High speed photography lowers the frame rate considerably. Therefore actions that take a second to occur will be seen as taking up ten, even twenty seconds, depending on the frames per second. Time lapse photography does exactly the opposite to this as has been already told. The processes that normally do not appear of much significance to the human eye or brain such as the movement of the sun or the blooming of a flower when viewed through time lapse will suddenly seem much more pronounced and appropriate as one will be able to see all the actions that go unnoticed, since they take up so much of time. Time lapse has been used in various movies and videos over time.

In the Nikon D5100, time interval photography can be carried out quite effectively. First however, we must ensure that the battery is full charged as time interval entails long periods of time. Also, it is recommended that you mount the camera on the tripod stand.

On doing the above steps, click the MENU button to display the various menus that are available on the camera icon. Go to INTERVAL TIMER SHOOTING and press the right arrow on the OK button.

Nikon D5100 Timelapse

After doing this, you will be taken to the window where you will have to select the starting time. You can choose NOW and press the right arrow button on the OK button starting to shoot immediately or you can select a time from which the shooting will start.

Nikon D5100 Interval Timer Shooting menu

In order to do this, just select the START TIME option. You will be prompted to choose the hours and minutes. Change them and press the right arrow button again on the OK button. The next window that will come up on the camera screen will ask you to choose the amount of the interval that you are desirous of putting between each shot.

Use the right arrow and the left arrow on the OK button to change the time period between each successive photo being taken. When you are done with this, press the right arrow again and move on to the next screen.

Next come the number of intervals that you would like to put. The number of intervals that you put will determine the number of pictures that are being taken. Logically the number of photos should be equal to the number of intervals. You can change the number of intervals in a similar manner of changing the interval time. When all this is done, highlight ON and press OK to return to the shooting menu. If NOW was selected then the first photo will be taken after 3 seconds. If not, the first photo will be taken at the inputted time interval and the shots will continue until all the intervals haven’t been completed.

38 thoughts on “TimeLapse – Interval Timer Shooting

  1. I need to find out if this is normal. I was able to go into my menu to set up the interval shooting, but later when I tried to change the interval, a warning poped up stating that I could not use that setting with the camera in it’s current state. After much fiddling around I finally turned the camera off & then on. That allowed me into the menu again. I can do this repeatedly. Is this normal? Or do I have a defective camera?

      • Hi,

        I have a nikon D5000 and from last night I have the problem that “Interval timer shooting” is grey and cannot be selected (although I used to) from the menu (same problem as Thom). Note that:
        1.Auto distortion control,
        2. Long exp. NR,
        3. High ISO NR,
        4. Active D-Lighting,
        5. Live view
        are all OFF and the time is correctly setted.

        thank you in advance!


    • Hi Thom!

      Did you finally found the reason that “interval time shooting” didn’ t work? I Have the same problem…. I was using interval time shooting, but yesterday it was impossible!! I cannot find the reason….


      P.S. Bracketing is OFF, live view is OFF.

  2. I have tried setting the exposure to 30 seconds and the interval at 2 seconds with 120 shots. The camera stops taking pictures at 4 shots. The interval seems to be 32 seconds, rather than 2 seconds. Am I doing something wrong?

    • I have the same problem, I am sure it is a bug of camera and should be fixed in the newer versions of the device firmware.

    • the interval b/w two pictures should be longer then the exposure time… the memory card takes time to write those pictures…… if u r using for example 15sec of exposure time thn the interval shud b of 30 sec… for safe playin…. it means one picture will be taken in 45secs….got it? its not a bug just use ur head :)

  3. Hi all, Hi Hoa…

    You did not wrong. I experience the same.
    Seems that it’s a bug for D5100.
    I made many test and it is as follows:
    – actually, the “number of intervals” is not as claimed in the manual, is the total time the picture are taken.

    your settings: 30sec exposure with 2 sec interval and 120″shots”
    one picture will take 32 sec
    after 4 shots, 4×32 = 128sec

    my settings 1 sec exposure, 1 sec intervat and 100 “shots”
    yes, you can figure, exactly after 50 pictures it stoped.
    2sec / picture in 100″shots” = 50 pictures

    I will report this bug in my country nikon forum, see what can we do….

  4. I figured out.
    We have not read carefuly the manual.

    It’s written: “…choose an interval longer than the slowest anticipated shutter speed”…

    so the interval we have to set is not the interval between the end of the picture “n” and the begining of the picture “n+1″.

    the interval is mesured between the begining of the pictures “n” and “n+1″.

    i’ve tested with 1sec exposure, 2 sec interval and 100 shoots.

    at every 2 sec. a picture is taken, and there are 100 picture on my card.

    thank you,

      • For 30sec exposures with a 2sec interval between each shot, try setting the interval time at 34 or 35 secs. I tried it at 32 secs and it didn’t work, but when I increased the interval to 34 secs the interval between each shot was about 2 secs. It may have something to do with the in-camera processing after each exposure.

  5. you can stop the process of time lapse (interval timer shooting) once it has started to take pictures?
    in case you want to change the setup.

    • H Carlos
      To Interrupt interval timer shooting, turn the camera off or rotate the mode dial to a new setting. Returning the monitor to the storage position does not interrupt interval timer shooting.
      hope it’ll help,

  6. Hi Robert,

    Today I was testing my D5100 camera, to use interval timer for long exposure (30 sec I mean), I figured out the bug you mentioned. I tested several combinations of time interval, exposure time, and number of intervals and concluded exactly the same result as you.

    I don’t know how to report the bug to Nikon Corporation.

    I should say that I am an electronics engineer and I am very familiar to this kind of bugs in electronic devices :)

  7. Hi, i take the coment of robert and apply in a group of 40 photos with a exposure of 30 seconds, for this i set 35 seconds of interval and at the end of process, i obtain
    40 photos with 35 seconds of interval.

    I hope this help.
    Excuse my english

    • Hi Ankit,
      i am not aware of Freeware, personally i am using quicktime pro of Apple to combine it to desired speed.
      in that application you can choose Frame rate, speed, quality Etc.

  8. Hi,

    Sorry my bad english, but i´m trying to know if i can do a timelapse with nikon d5100 ou nikon d700 without the mirror of the machine is always moving, more a less like this: the mechanical of the machine is still and it only record frames (in an interval), like video.
    Thanks and once again sorry for the spelling.

    • Hi Daniel,
      i am sorry, not sure i understand your question… but if you’ll read this tutorial i think you may find your answer…

  9. I do have a Nikon D5100,Regarding interval timer,i can manage to do that,but do need some more practice.
    What i need to know,whereby i can find it in any manuals etc is how to do this interval timing using Video,ive tried all differant ways,but still keeps coming out individual shots.
    Is there a difference between Video and normal shots,and easy to understand help please,Dave.

  10. It looks like I am having a similar issue to Thom’s old post. However in my D5100 the interval timer shooting option is grayed out in P,S,A and M modes. but is available in AUTO. How do i get it to work in P,S,A or M? Any ideas? My date and time are set fine… :s

  11. Just got a D5100 and am having trouble getting the interval timer to work for a time lapse. Can you give me some hints on what setting, etc?

  12. i’m having the same issues as above with a 7100.
    hopefully this is cleared up in future firmware.
    this is disturbing as this is a medium as a cinematographer that is critical.
    love the camera otherwise.

  13. I do not understand how did you made HDR video with only INTERVAL TIMER SHOOTING. it make just 1 foto in repeated sequence (every 5 seconds for example) but for HDR you need 3 fotos or not ?

  14. Thanks for great tutorial. Once images are capture do u know any open source software which can covert these pictures to movie.

  15. In order for you to highlight and set the interval timer shooting, go to your ( i ) button press it 2 times and make sure your auto bracketing is OFF.

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