The best timelapse cameras make it easy to capture a series of stills – over hours, days, weeks, or even months – and then condense that footage into a short video clip. And in this article, we've brought together the best timelapse cameras for a variety of purposes.
So whether you want to document important building construction, capture the unfurling of a rare flower, or showcase the build, action, and deconstruction of a trade event, the best timelapse cameras within this guide can all do this, while others take it that extra step further for peace of mind.
Most of the best professional cameras and even some camera phones have some sort of timelapse function, letting you set an interval timer to capture a series of photos, which you can combine into a video later. If you're using an iPhone for photography you'll have noticed that they have a particularly useful timelapse function in the native camera app, so it’s easy to get a taste for this form of creativity.
However, there's one big problem with using your camera or phone in this way. Timelapse videos are captured over weeks or even months – and having your day-to-day tech tied up for that length of time just isn't practical.
That's when a dedicated time-lapse camera presents to be a better alternative. The camera will have been built to last more than a few hours (even if that means using old-fashioned batteries) and survive the kind of weather that comes and goes over an extended period.
It’s also useful if the device can process the stills straight into a video clip for you rather than requiring a potentially irritating excursion through software. For these reasons and more, you will find what you're looking for within this guide to the best timelapse camera.
The best timelapse cameras in 2023
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If you're new to timelapse photography, here's our recommendation. While Brinno offers devices with higher resolutions, the TLC200 and TLC200 Pro mark a more accessible starting point for timelapse photography while retaining the significant benefit of compatibility with Brinno’s lens system.
You could buy one of these, add a compatible tele lens later, then use that lens with a more powerful camera (like the Empower TLC2020) when the job demanded it. (The waterproof housing is probably more essential than a new lens.)
In exchange for the cheaper entry price, you get a smaller preview screen, just 1.4” (though that is enough to do the job), and – if you skip the ‘Pro’ model – you also miss out on HDR. The latter is an essential feature if lighting conditions will shift during your shoot. That’ll be worthwhile since (with either model) you’ll be able to get 40 days’ worth on camera capturing one shot every five minutes.
This might even be the start of a new creative avenue for the kids. Indeed, with optional triggers for stop-motion amongst the available accessories it could even promote patience.
The TLC130 is a compact camera, designed to be even more portable than the GoPro Hero, but still operate in a familiar way; using a rechargeable battery and microSD card. The TLC130’s power, however, is optimized around timelapse shooting, so it can expect to manage six days at a five-minute interval despite the tiny form factor.
That's long enough to track some vacation events but perhaps not to follow the construction of a skyscraper. Power is also saved by eliminating a display; there are just two buttons and an LED, though the power button doubles up as a shutter for step videos.
The real flexibility comes via the Brinno App, with features from edits and sharing to changing settings, all managed over Bluetooth and Wi-Fi, and the resulting file is 1080p video. While some form of image stabilization (IS) would have been nice, the ability to capture a series of clips – step videos – is a nice option for action fans. And this is an interesting alternative to an action cam for distance cyclists, despite the timelapse focus.
This piece of German product design has a very specific purpose in mind; long duration timelapse. That's evidenced by the 12 spaces for AA cells: four beneath the electronics, and another eight in the door.
The unit is IP66-weather sealed when closed, so it can be mounted in harsh environments. Just like some German car brands, while the engineering feels firm, the menu system could be easier to navigate, though there is a real manual in the box alongside several mounting options and proportionally you won’t be spending that long with the menu.
We appreciated the inclusion of a tree rope as well as a drillable wall bracket with a ball joint with screws. The 2.4-inch LCD makes directing the camera simple, and there is also an LED flash to light the night mode with an 18m (60ft) range. It’s also very handy that the system allows microSD cards up to 512GB.
If you’ve been caught by the timelapse bug on social but don’t want to tie up your phone, the EON is built with you in mind. You might think the option of a white case verges on the condescending (if so, choose the more traditional black), but in truth, it is features like the Time Slice that stand out. This is a single photo generated from strips of a timelapse to show a day in a single still – very striking.
And that’s not all. The camera is presented more as a set including a UV filter, case, lens hood, and mini tripod. It is app-controlled, so you’ll need your phone to get things going, but the app offers more than mere interval settings. You can tap to zoom on an area as you adjust the manual focus, check a live preview even as a shoot is in progress, or switch to an infrared mode.
You can also switch to power-saving mode. In this case, the battery is measured in days, not minutes, and the 2μm pixels and up to 1.4-sec shutter speed can help in low light.
The TLC2020 is not Brinno’s first timelapse camera, and this model does offer more than some of its predecessors while using the same interchangeable CS mount lenses, which some might already have in their collections.
It can capture up to 82 days' worth of footage (at one frame every five minutes) thanks to the option to add two extra batteries. And manufacturer Brinno offers a range of optional accessories including its jib-like BARD monopod/clamp, a waterproof housing, and a smooth-moving motorized turntable.
Setup is merciful to those not inclined to algebra, clearly indicating how many seconds of footage per hour will be shot in plain English on the rear-mounted monitor. If you want more guidance, mode names like “indoor event” and “detailed craftwork” help you choose the right speed. The produced video, however, is in .avi format, which means Mac users will need a conversion tool, although these are fairly easily found online.
The new Brinno TLC300 is designed to give users the best possible experience in timelapse, while also keeping things very simple so as to not confuse any users. For instance, the TLC300 is completely IPX4-rated waterproof, and pair that with its mounting accessories and its 100-day battery life, you have a camera that can outdo almost all of the current market competitors, and while others use rechargeable battery cells, the TLC300 uses four standard AA batteries available worldwide, so when that 100-days is up, you can easily swap in some more without having to reach your charger.
This new timelapse camera can only capture 1080p - but this is a step up from the 720P offered by its predecessor the Brinno TLC200 Pro.
Despite the Hero 11 Black looking like every other GoPro this side of 2019, it's inner workings have undergone a complete upgrade. The new, almost square sensor is supremely versatile, the camera's software has been simplified successfully, and GoPro's companion app, Quik has also been improved. With best-in-class stabilization, great-looking video in all but dimly-lit and dark scenes, and some fun new modes like light painting, the Hero 11 Black is an excellent addition to the line.
The Hero 11 Black's 8:7 aspect ratio is also a standout highlight for content creators. Able to shoot in 5.3K resolution, 8:7 video at up to 30fps, its footage can be losslessly cropped to create new 4K portrait, landscape, and square clips from a single video.
On top of 8:7 video, the Hero 11 Black captures 5.3K resolution video at 60 fps, 4K resolution video at 120 fps, or 2.7K resolution at 240 fps. You can also grab 27MP stills from 5.3K video.
The Hero 11 Black might not have wildly improved the line's lowlight performance. Still, with its new 8:7 sensor, a simplified interface, and enhanced horizon leveling, it's upgraded GoPro's offering in a meaningful way. Particularly appealing to folks who use multiple social platforms, nothing else can do quite what the 11 Black can.
Read our full GoPro Hero 11 Black review for more details
GoPro Subscription explained: what you get, and is it worth it
We can’t mention GoPro in a list without noting the possibilities DJI's Action 2 offers as a timelapse device. Not least the option to be worn very discretely with the new Magnetic Lanyard so the camera is nothing more than a lens on the chest (it’s about half the size of the GoPro).
The OLED touchscreen makes choosing interval and shooting duration painless, while continually being provided with a calculated Video Duration. So, dial 10s Interval and 1h Duration and you’ll see a 00:12 Video Duration (assuming 60fps). Okay, this is not entirely unique, but what does stand out on this screen is the variety of intervals you can use to get the perfect shot length; 0.5, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 8, 9, 10, 13, 15, 20, 30, 40 seconds.
All these are available at 4K, 2.7K, and 1080p. And, of course, there is a built-in microphone and, like the GoPro, it's waterproof.
Read our DJI Action 2 review for more details
With a standard tripod mount, a motion detector, HDR, and a zoom (with an effective 16-35mm focal length) the Afidus ATL-200 has potential for a wide variety of potential users. The Sony Exmor imaging sensor can produce 1080P, but setting it up isn’t too painful; there is autofocus (and macro) and the convenience of your phone’s screen via the Wi-Fi app for operation. If it turns out you’ve given the camera a great view, you can also shoot limited sections of continuous video at up to 30fps (720P) or 15fps for 1080p.
The real purpose, though, time-lapse intervals, can be set from every second to every day via the well-featured app. This is also where one can choose Stars mode, and various other settings, and even pop up an Instagram-friendly square to frame your shot in so the resulting footage will work on square and 16:9 formats. Another handy feature is image alignment; if you move the camera (accidentally or to change the battery), you can load a previous shot and use it re-align the camera with the previous clips.
The ultimate action camera, the GoPro Hero10 Black can shoot about 70 minutes of 5.3K video at a luxurious 100Mbp. Timelapse is just an extra feature here, but still offers the choice of 0.5, 1, 2, 5, 10, 30, and 60-second intervals between frames (though, oddly, JPEG only for 0.5, 1, and 2-second intervals).
The battery is bigger than the Hero8, so you can get longer timelapses than you might remember, though the processor in the Hero 10 does draw more power because of recognized usability flaws with its predecessor which, thankfully, have been resolved.
While recording action, a fun way to play with time is TimeWarp’s real speed option. Briefly hold a button and the timelapse will slow to real speed and add audio. Other features when being used as an action camera include swappable lenses and in-built “HyperSmooth” image stabilization and horizon leveling. This works a lot like a gimbal-without-a-gimbal, even in timelapse. And the results are striking; if you go for a walk your footage will be free of the footstep bounce.
Like all recent GoPros, the Hero10 Black will also make micro-adjustments to exposure for a smooth light-to-dark timelapse; no awkward 1/3rd stop jumps, and there's a dedicated Night Lapse mode with auto interval. Handy.
Read our GoPro Hero 10 Black Review for more details
Aerial timelapse: Drones that can capture timelapse
If you’re interested in capturing a timelapse effect from an aerial perspective, that’s not a problem. Most of the best camera drones have some additional support for the effect. Clearly, a battery-powered craft will not be able to maintain a position above ground longer than the drone can fly, but newer drones – like the DJI Mavic 3 – have around 40 minutes of useable flight time, making a visibly accelerated real-world feasible.
In addition, since Mavic 2, DJI’s drones have been able to use what is called their Hyperlapse feature to orbit a certain point – or even a series of waypoints – and smoothly move the aircraft slowly enough for the timelapse effect to work, while keeping the lens on target.
Hyperlapse is not unique to DJI either; it’s now seen on Autel aircraft, including the recent Autel EVO Nano+.
What we look for in timelapse cameras
The best timeplase cameras have to be robust and stable to be able to leave wherever you desire to capture a vast array of visuals from cityscape timelapses that we often see in movies to great moving vistas of the landscape.
Battery life with these things is also a big consideration when picking out which one is best for you. Some will be able to capture hours of footage, whereas others can capture days, weeks, or even months in one clip.
Many timeplase cameras have a multitude of features and within the above guide, you will find timelapse cameras for all budgets and abilities.
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