Best time lapse camera

Camera & Photo

A time lapse forms from many separate images. If you want it to look great, the camera needs a stable platform, mount or tripod of some kind to remain steady.

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Which time lapse camera is best?

Time lapse recordings can be fun, creative video or practical, efficient security and nature observing solutions. Action cameras and trail cameras are usually more affordable time lapse options than fancy DSLR camera equipment, though those can also create time lapses.

If you want a dedicated time lapse camera that can run on its own for weeks, the Brinno BCC200 is the top choice. It is the best option for long-term time lapses and situations where a camera needs to hold up to severe weather for long periods.

What to know before you buy a time lapse camera

Is a time lapse camera what you need?

If you are trying to record a stationary activity or location, like a building or wildlife in a particular area, time lapse can help. However, if you are trying to capture footage of an elusive target, setting up a motion-activated camera to record when it detects movement could be a better solution. 

Where will you set up the time lapse?

It is crucial to have a stable platform for a time lapse recording, and many accessories can help with that, like tripods and various camera mount methods. For more information about items that will help improve your time lapse recordings, check out the BestReviews buying guide

What visual quality do you need?

If you are monitoring job sites or nature trails, a high-end video could be pointless. Keep in mind that the higher quality images take up more file space, so recording in a lower resolution for specific projects is better. Smaller, lower-quality video files help a time lapse to run for longer periods. 

What to look for in a quality time lapse camera

Visuals

The best quality cameras will allow for detailed, high-resolution video when you need it and efficient, low-resolution video when that is beneficial. Lighting conditions also have a big effect on a time lapse camera. Some trail cameras capture night vision images, so you do not need to worry about darkness completely obstructing your view.

Connectivity

High-quality time lapse cameras allow for more connection methods to view your images and footage. Most can be plugged into a computer or tablet to save the files, but some can even connect via WiFi or wirelessly. Check what methods of connection a time lapse camera has before you buy to work well with your computer to save and edit quality videos.

Automation

You can leave some time lapse cameras on their own to capture images, based on your settings. In contrast, you can control others remotely with a nearby user. You can even monitor high-end cameras over WiFi from anywhere. Depending on the level of automation you need a time lapse camera to have, there are many options to suit various projects.

How much you can expect to spend on a time lapse camera

Simple trail cameras can be obtained for as low as $40 and serve as a decent entry model for newcomers. Quality action cameras and high-end trail cams can cost $60-$200. Professional cameras that also have time lapse functionality will be much more expensive.

Time lapse camera FAQ

Can you leave a time lapse camera outside?

A. Time lapse cameras have varying degrees of weather protection. There are IP and IPX ratings for the testing of how durable a camera can be. Some cameras falsely advertise themselves as weatherproof, so ensure that your camera is properly waterproof to hold up under difficult situations. Also, be wary of the location you leave a time lapse camera set up unattended because it can create the opportunity for someone to steal the camera. 

How long can a time lapse camera run on its own?

A. It depends on the model and varies from a few days to months at a time. The time lapse settings of your camera and its battery life will be the primary factors determining how long it can last. If your camera takes a higher number of pictures over a shorter period to construct the time lapse, it will probably not be able to last as long as it could. 

What’s the best time lapse camera to buy?

Top time lapse camera

Brinno BCC200

Brinno BCC200

What you need to know: This powerful camera is designed for long-term outdoor time lapse projects to be recorded from start to finish.

What you’ll love: It is highly durable and can hold up in practically any weather since it is designed to be left outside. The camera is wholly dedicated to time lapse footage, with a battery life of up to 80 days if you shoot time lapse in 30-minute intervals. The camera comes with a mount that can rotate 360 degrees with a clamp to hold it securely in place.

What you should consider: The camera is an expensive investment, and users will need to purchase AA batteries because it does not feature a rechargeable battery.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top time lapse camera for the money

Dragon Touch Vision 3 Action Camera

Dragon Touch Vision 3 Action Camera

What you need to know: This is an affordable 4K resolution camera with multiple creative shooting modes to give the user many options.

What you’ll love: It records in 4K and you can control it with a wireless remote. It has modes optimized for driving, time lapse footage, loop recordings and slow-motion. It comes with a waterproof case to prevent damage, even in rough conditions. It can connect via WiFi.

What you should consider: Unfortunately, it only has WiFi connectivity and no Bluetooth capabilities.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out

BlazeVideo Trail Camera

BlazeVideo Trail Camera

What you need to know: It is a full HD trail camera with a dedicated time lapse mode and a long battery life to support significant time lapse recordings.

What you’ll love: It records in 1080p resolution. The camera is waterproof and features night vision suitable for outdoor recordings in the evening. The time lapse mode can optionally use an automated timer. The camera is easy to use and password-protected to keep the device safe.

What you should consider: The camera requires eight AA batteries and does not feature a rechargeable battery.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Elliott Rivette writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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