RAW or JPEG for timelapse photography?

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by theuserjohnny, Dec 21, 2012.

  1. macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    For those who do TL do you guys prefer to shoot in RAW or JPEG?

    I want to keep the RAW files so that I can correct exposures and such but I'm limited to the number of shots I get. I'm considering of just bumping down to S-RAW2.

    Currently I'm not doing anything huge. I'm just doing a TL of Disneyland and I have a pass to the park and I go often so I don't mind having just roughly 600 shots (8GB card, going to get a 16GB soon).

    But I just wanted to get some opinions on others who do TL.

    Should I keep the quality control of having RAW files or should I aim for capacity in JPEG?
  2. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    I think it depends on how much time and storage you have to work with. If I was doing only 600 images in tricky lighting, I'd shoot RAW, but if you don't have the space or time to process, the decision will be made for you. :p

    My last time lapse was a little over 112,000 images, and I shot them JPG to keep it simple. If you expose them right, you won't have to worry about correction, and it saves time with batch processing. When I do day-to-night or vice versa (sunrise, sunset) transitions, RAW is a lot more useful, but I think Disneyland images will be easy to expose correctly. Here's another older one (only about 70,000 images) that were also shot JPG, just to show it can be done and look good. In both examples, I ended up throwing away many thousands of frames to cut out the "boring" parts where they were just digging holes and letting concrete dry, haha.

    128GB Class 10 SDXC cards are pretty cheap these days, and I use a pair of them to keep the camera going for long periods of time without having to move it.
  3. macrumors 65816


    Sep 25, 2009
    Orlando, FL
    Just out of curiosity, what are you shooting a TL of at DLR? I work at WDW so I'm wondering if a new big attraction is being developed? :)

    BTW, I never knew TL were shot with stills. I always assumed it was continuous video played at a very high speed.
  4. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    Video with speed adjustment is another way of doing it, but it's a lot more efficient to shoot stills as needed instead of throwing away so many frames of video by speeding it up. Not only that, but if you shoot stills, you benefit from the vastly greater resolution of the still images over mere 1920x1080.

    I used to work at Disneyland, way back. It's a whole new park, now! Anyway, I was under the impression he was just shooting for fun, not necessarily construction of a new attraction.
  5. thread starter macrumors 6502

    Jul 7, 2012
    I'm just shooting for fun! Nothing serious just gives me something to work on while at the park because there are some days where the parks are just packed and I end up riding like 1 ride and then leaving because I'm annoyed. At least with this I can do something at the park.


    They make 128GB CF cards? I'm shooting with a Mark II I think I'm going to upgrade to a Mark III so that I can do CF and SD and that should increase my capacity big time.

    Right now I did a test on Thunder Mt since the ride is closing for the year sometime in early January and wanted to at least get some sort of timelapse footage for it.

    My plan is to intercut timelapse with actual footage (hopefully I can get a Mark III or just barrow someone's camera for slowmotion w/ 60fps right now I just have the GoPro for slowmotion). I think that it can be something special if I just take my time... I'm aiming for a end of 2013 release maybe sooner.
  6. macrumors 68020


    Nov 18, 2010
    I would not recommend this, as storage becomes an issue with longer shoots.

    I shoot RAW with time lapse as long as the storage allows for it. In post, it has the color depth which comes in handy when making stacked images. If it's an extended period lasting 3000+ shots then of course I use JPEG, but at full resolution so I have the ability to crop the time lapse video to whatever size I want.
  7. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
  8. macrumors member

    Oct 27, 2008
    Number of shots. How is your camera doing?

    I specifically asked Canon: how many shots a camera is designed for?, thinking on the mirror going up and down.
    They answered that a pro like 5D can make about 150K.
    How many shot have you fired with your camera?

  9. macrumors 68030


    Feb 4, 2010
    Hmm, never heard that statistic about how many shots a camera can take before, but I checked my current D7000:
    30956 shots.

    Thing is, I've shot that ~112,000 shot time lapse on a Canon T2i, the ~70,000 one on a previous Nikon D7000 (which was destroyed in a storm), and some other time lapses on a few GoPro cameras.

    I'm skeptical that a DSLR will quit after only 150,000 shots myself, but I guess I'll think about it when one of my cameras finally dies. I've had other problems with SLRs and DSLRs, but none have quit because of the mirror action... yet! :p
  10. macrumors 601


    Oct 5, 2006
    Northern/Central VA
    Shutters are mechanical and move very quickly. Like any mechanical part, they have a meantime between failure (MTBF) and life expectancy. Nikon publishes an expected shutter lifetime of 150,000 actuations for the D7000. Canon doesn't publish numbers for the Rebel line, but it's likely to be similar. Things like LiveView take an additional shutter activation, so if you always shoot that way, it can halve your camera's shutter lifetime. On the D7000, a shutter replacement seems to run between $160-320.

  11. macrumors 6502a


    Feb 13, 2011
    150K is a number that is often thrown around as an estimated MTBF for DSLR shutter mechanisms, both Canon and Nikon, regardless of the camera class. The truth is, it's really only an estimate and a lot depends on how you treat your camera in general. Unless a person shoots a lot of time lapses or uses the burst mode often, it's unlikely that they will reach that amount of shots, so very few people can add to this statistical data set.

    On the other hand, if you do shoot time lapses, an hour worth of material (24-30 frames per second of output video) will put you around 100K actuations, so among time lapse shooters I would expect to see many people reach and exceed the 150K number. From what I've read, there are not many complaints about shutter failures, and my theory is that when the manufacturers estimate failure times, they take into account the fact that in normal shooting the camera is moved, bumped and exposed to all sorts of outside stress. When you shoot time lapses, it just sits of a tripod quietly for hundreds to thousands of shots, so the effective wear is smaller.
  12. macrumors 68040


    Jul 9, 2012
    Your camera always shoots a raw file image. So do you want the camera to:
    • only save the raw file
    • generate a jpg file from the raw and then delete the raw file
    • generate a jpg file and save both the raw and jpg

    From a raw file on your computer you can later generate a JPG, TIFF, or other format. From a 8bit JPG, you won't be generating a raw file or high resolution 16bit TIFF file.

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