An intervalometer is a handy photography device that’s an essential item for any aspiring photographer. But just what’s an intervalometer? Let’s take a look and learn more about what you can use it for. 

Intervalometer Defined

An intervalometer is a handheld device that plugs into your camera device’s micro-USB port. In photography, it allows you to control the frequency, length, and amount of images you take. It’s essentially a timer that makes it possible to take hundreds of shots over a period you specify.

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What Do You Use an Intervalometer For?

You can use an intervalometer for many things. 

1. To add extra features not included in the camera’s default photography software. Some cameras include built-in intervalometers, but they may not have a lot of bells and whistles or get the job done how you’d like. Other cameras lack this device altogether, so you need to purchase one to get specific images.  

2. To avoid any vibrations or camera shake. Using a photography shutter button causes shake, and even just a tiny bit of vibration can ruin images that require lots of accuracy. An intervalometer removes the need to touch the camera and saves the integrity of your images.

3. To execute very complex shooting sequences. Some photography projects require you to take hundreds of images in a short period or over several days, a feat that’s impossible with a regular shutter. An intervalometer takes the “heavy lifting” out of these projects. 

Understanding the Display on Your Intervalometer

An intervalometer has many features, such as a locking mechanism, self-timer, and the ability to take the number of shots you need. Let’s take a brief look at these features as they appear on the intervalometer display. It may seem like there’s a lot, but once you know your way around, the screen is easy to navigate. 

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Delay

Delay refers to how long the intervalometer will wait before executing the program you’ve told it to run. For example, if you know you’ll need shots in ten minutes, you can set it to wait that long to begin taking photography images. 

The great thing about using the delay function is that it completely removes you from touching the camera to trigger the shutter. If you’re taking long exposures, even the slightest press on the shutter can end up causing unintentional blur in your photo. By using the delay tool, it takes you out of the equation for needing to touch the camera.

Long

Long indicates camera shutter release speed on your photography camera, and it allows you to program how long you want the intervalometer to expose without touching the camera. It works best at night, and it’s quite useful for things like star trails. 

Intvl

Intvl means “interval,” or in other words, how long the intervalometer will wait between taking images. You can use this interval ability in many different ways. 

N

N stands for number of photography shots, which means that if you select 100, for example, the device will take 100 photography images. 

The music symbol activates an audio signal that lets you know that the intervalometer is executing a particular function. You can turn it on or off as you wish. 

Tab

You can see the tab on the display, which is a short black line located underneath the functions that shows which one is in use.  

Navigating the Buttons

Now let’s take a brief look at the buttons on an intervalometer. 

Bulb/Lock

You’ll likely be using the intervalometer at night, and the bulb feature is handy to help see the screen in low-light conditions. Use the lock button to prevent any accidental pressing that might ruin your camera photography images.  

Timer Start and Stop

As its name indicates, you use this button to start or stop the intervalometer. 

Set Button With Arrow Keys

The arrow keys are the left and right keys on the device. They allow you to move through the functions, and you can make selections with the set button. 

Large Button With A Slide

This button is essentially an external shutter release, which is quite useful at preventing camera shake.  

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Know When To Use Your Intervalometer

Just as important as knowing your way around an intervalometer is knowing when you should use it.  

Time-Lapse

To create a time-lapse, you need to take many images of the same subject. Photographers create time-lapses over sometimes long periods, which they later use to stitch together. Since there can be upwards of hundreds of images, creating a time-lapse is challenging without an intervalometer.

This tool is commonly used when taking star photography photos at night. You can capture the star trails through a time lapse and then stitch the photos together later using Photoshop. 

Portrait

Many photographers use intervalometers in portrait photography, which allows you to move away from the camera and get different and more natural poses. 

Additionally, this tool can be used to trigger the shutter at a specific moment. If you’re working on self-portraiture, using an intervalometer can be a useful piece of gear. You can also set up the intervalometer to fire every few seconds, so if you’re taking photos of yourself, it allows you to try out several different poses instantly (rather than using the self-timer on your camera).

Long Exposure

Getting long exposure images without an intervalometer is frustrating. It requires you to hold the shutter release, and this is challenging if you need to do it for a few hours. An intervalometer does the work for you, making it an indispensable tool for long exposure.  

Selecting an Intervalometer if Your Camera Doesn’t Have One

Some cameras already have intervalometers, as we mentioned. Check yours to see if it has one. If it doesn’t, there are apps you can use if you want to go the simple route. And if not, brands like Nikon and Canon make fantastic intervalometers. 

Before purchase, make sure that the intervalometer will work with your camera. In general, these devices are made for use with most cameras, but sometimes the plug differs, so pay attention to the compatible models.