Time-Lapse Photography and Star Trails

DPReview posted a good beginners guide for time-lapse photography. They didn’t mention Fujifilm cameras when listing cameras that are good for creating time-lapses, which is surprising, because Fujifilm has included the feature in their cameras for a very long time. Fujifilm, unlike Sony, offers an internal intervalometer that works flawlessly across all of their cameras. It would be nice if the camera assembled time-lapses internally after capturing all of the images like others, but I generally prefer to shoot RAW when creating time lapses so the feature wouldn’t work for me.

Shooting RAW while creating a time lapses allows for the final results to fully represent the creators intent because the first image can be edited like any other photo and the results synced across the series. This has worked very well for me in my experience, but it can be difficult to find a good subject to capture. I almost always try to create a timelapse when I am shooting astrophotography, but you have to start at the beginning of the night to get a decent length video with a lot of detail.

Light limitations make astrophotography time-lapses difficult to do if you want a lot of detail and stars to be included. In the below video I set up my X-T2 to shoot all night and did noise reduction frames with exposures around 30 seconds because I wanted the Milk Way to pop. I could have removed the noise reduction frames to capture more images, but I was shooting at pretty high ISO in addition to doing long exposures so the final image would have been noisy. In the timelapse below the milky way, I was able to shoot at lower ISO and with a faster shutter speed so it only took me about an hour to capture.

The same technique can be used to create star trails also, but sometimes it’s better to capture fewer starts so that the image doesn’t look too busy. Also when shooting star trails you need to make sure that the exposure remains consistent depending on the app you choose to use, or the final result can end up looking off. This can be difficult if you shoot star trails in a group because someone always turns on a flashlight. If this happens you can just remove the frame manually, but this can also influence your final results.

For star trails, I like to use StarStaX and for time-lapse, there are a lot of free options like Time Lapse Assembler to pick from, but some are outdated since they are very simple applications.

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