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Nikon Technology

8K Time-lapse for the Hybrid Photographer

Hybrid photography is an increasingly emerging trend that has come up in recent years. This convergence of mediums – using photo, video and audio together instead of only using one or the other – essentially began when the video mode was first added to digital cameras. Furthermore, as DSLRs become more well-equipped with HD (or higher) video functionalities, it has become increasingly common that professional photographers are expected to do more than take still images on jobs, and clients expect anyone with a camera to be savvy in more than just one medium.

As the first of Nikon’s cameras to be equipped with full-frame 4K ultra high-definition (UHD) movie recording capabilities on top of its unmatched balance of 45.7MP high-resolution and up to 9 FPS (with MB-D18 Multi-Power Battery Pack and EN-EL 18a/EN-EL18b Rechargeable Li-ion Battery) high-speed continuous shooting, and a native ISO 64 to 25600 range – the D850 brings with it unlimited possibilities for hybrid photographers to embrace both still imaging and full-frame video shooting alongside full compatibility with lenses such as a wide-angle or fisheye lens.

Above and beyond its full frame 4K capabilities, the D850’s 45.7MP resolution enables 8K time-lapse movie production. 8K time-lapse requires an extremely high resolution – categorised by a minimum of 7680 horizontal pixels. The D850 surpasses this minimum with 8256 horizontal pixels, alongside several other related features for quality time-lapse shooting.

The question: how best can the superior features of the D850 be utilised by today’s hybrid photographer to achieve a seamless compression of time?

#1 Pre-shoot

For starters, choosing the location for the shot to be set up is key – a good understanding of the  environment over a prolonged period of time including where and at what time the sun or moon (for a night shot) rises/sets. Additional factors such as whether there are headlights from passing cars that could possibly ruin the shot is something that has to be considered as well. Weather conditions such as humidity and cold weather are essential to know about too, as these could result in condensation or frost building up on the lens over an extended time – affecting the shoot.

Once those considerations are out of the way, set the interval timer function to take say, one frame every three seconds – so that when the images are played back time seems to speed up. The D850’s minimum shooting interval of 0.5s realises a smoother image transition of fast-moving clouds or other similar elements. It is also essential to compose a shot with items that stand out against the background.

#2 During the shoot

A constant worry among time-lapse photographers is the extensive continuous use of the shutter, depending on how long the final output is and the frequency of the frames. The D850’s silent interval timer shooting eliminates the need to worry about the repeated shutter release sound and shutter durability even when shooting a large number of shots. Furthermore, without mechanical vibration at shutter release, sharper images can be taken to ensure quality in the final time-lapse product.  

Also, in a bid to capture those elusive night shots of star trails or moon shots, the D850’s low-light sensitivity offers a metering range that has been lowered to -3EV1, thus enabling the easy shooting of a starry night sky with AE, without having to make use of difficult shooting techniques. Shooting scenes in one sequence – such as a transition from starry night to dawn or from sunset to starry night – that were impossible to shoot before even on a fully manual mode are now made possible with this feature too.

#3 Post-shoot

As a hybrid photographer, the impeccable resolution of the D850’s images and the option to shoot in intervals or using the time-lapse movie function provide a flexibility of options. Opt to choose between using one ‘wow’ shot from the batch as a standalone image, zoom in with great clarity to your desired composition of a wide angle shot, or simply compile the images into a spectacular time-lapse video. Or perhaps, do all three.

The benefit of capturing these extremely high-resolution still images also means that apart from the ability to have 8K time-lapse movies, you can also take advantage of the higher resolution quality by using optional third party software to add motion such as pans and zooms to your final time-lapse movie.

Finally, no one can deny the dreaded wait to upload those images in bulk – but, the use of in-camera batch RAW processing in the D850 results in remarkably shortened post-production time, giving you more time to perfect those images through editing or shoot even more footage.

Time-lapse videos are an art that has been gaining strong momentum in the photography scene – more so now that hybrid photographers are exposed to limitless imaging possibilities thanks to the technological capabilities of cameras these days. The use of 8K time-lapse movie production can only be the start of superior quality in production as monitors, televisions and graphic cards likewise begin to accommodate the extent of its high resolution as well.


 1 With a 50mm f/1.4 lens, at ISO 100 equivalent and at 20˚C/68˚F