What Is an Intervalometer and How to Use It

Have you ever taken a photo of a starry sky that didn’t translate what you were seeing in person? Or maybe you were taking a time-lapse in a bustling city with bright lights, but it turned out blurry. You might be wondering if there’s a way to take a better shot in these environments.

An intervalometer would solve both of these photography issues. An intervalometer (also called interval meter or interval timer) is a remote shutter release for cameras that provides photographers with more control over every shot. It allows you to take a set number of photos over a specified interval using a timer, as well as manipulate shutter speed to get the perfect picture. 

Intervalometers function as a hands-free shutter release option with various built-in features. They come in different forms, including both wired and wireless versions. Some intervalometers even allow you to control your camera, shutter speed, and timer with a mobile photography app.

The Features of an Intervalometer

Intervalometers come with many built-in features that might seem overwhelming at first. However, once you get the hang of them, they’re easy to use in order to capture a series of photos. While some intervalometers differ in appearance, almost all of them have the same built-in features. 

The built-in features of an intervalometer include:

  • Interval, time in between photographs (also referred to as self-timer)
  • Delay, time before photos are taken
  • Long, shutter release speed that affects exposure 

To activate each different built-in function, there are multiple buttons:

  • A timer start and stop 
  • Arrow keys for toggling through options
  • An external shutter release
  • A button to illuminate the screen for night photography

Setting Up and Using an Intervalometer

Different intervalometers require different setup processes, but the good news is that it is relatively easy to set up. If the intervalometer is built-in to your camera, you’ll need to find it in your menu and enable it. From there, choose the self-timer interval, shutter speed, and the number of shots you want to be taken. For example, you can configure the self-timer to accept one photo per one-second interval, for 1.5 minutes.

If it’s not built-in to your camera, you’ll need to buy an external device that you can find online. Some expensive versions have a Bluetooth technology function to make them wireless. Most intervalometers, however, have a cable that needs to be inserted into the camera before adjusting shutter speed and taking a shot. Next, turn the intervalometer on and choose your photography settings based on the built-in features we touched on earlier.

Creative Uses of an Intervalometer

There are tons of different scenes and environments you can photograph using an intervalometer. Here are a few:

  • Time-lapse images like the progression of a sunset
  • Long exposure images with slow shutter speed, such as star trail photos
  • Hands-free, blurred action shots like cars on a highway
  • A quick succession of many self-portraits using the self-timer

If you choose to shoot a time-lapse, you can make it more captivating by adding royalty-free sound effects.

Benefits of Using an Intervalometer

The most significant benefit of using an intervalometer is that you have more control over your camera. Intervalometers also grant you more freedom to move around, since you can use a remote control timer to trigger each shot. In addition, you don’t need to be standing behind the camera with your finger on the shutter release button to take a photo.

Intervalometers might be useful for candid photographers, due to their built-in, hands-free shutter release features. Candid photography is unstaged, and for that reason, the photographer must go unnoticed. For instance, you could set your camera up on a street corner and use an intervalometer to capture passersby.

Not only will intervalometers improve how you take a photo, but they will also improve the quality of your shot. You can easily minimize photo blur caused by a shaky camera by not handling the camera itself.

Final Takeaways

Hopefully, you learned something new about using intervalometers in your photography. There are a plethora of built-in features to take advantage of, including a self-timer and shutter speed to enhance your photography. 

Next time you see a time-lapse of star trails or traffic, know that an intervalometer was used to achieve that prolonged exposure and slow shutter speed effect. Many successful photographers rely on camera equipment like intervalometers (with a canon intervalometer being particularly popular) to capture compelling images. You can be one of them too!

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