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Note — I don’t want to take multiple shots right in a row of the same scene.

I want to be able to set it to 2 second or whatever delay and have it work for photo after photo, not once. Don’t know how to set up this way and I’m following my instruction book.

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    Are you trying to take a sequence of shots with a fixed interval when you press the shutter button once, or do you want to have a delay of n seconds whenever you press the shutter button? – scottbb Dec 29 '19 at 13:37
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Nikon's cameras have always worked this way, and there is no way to change the behavior. I suppose that it's because if you forget that it's on and miss a shot right now, that's more annoying than the reverse (the situation you've got).

Apparently if you use the optional remote, the two-second-delay-with-remote mode persists, so that may be one way to get what you're looking for.

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The option to use for such a task is not "self timer" but "interval timer shooting", as described in detail on pages 101 ff of the D5500 reference manual.

You will have to set the time for the first shot (as an absolute time, so having a watch or clock handy will be useful), the interval (how quickly you want your pictures taken successively), and the number of shots to take.

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