What does the term bulb ramping refer to and what does it bring the world of time-lapse photography?

It seems you need a specific type of intervalometer for bulb ramping. How do these differ from the average intervalometer?


1 Answer 1


Bulb ramping, or bramping, is a means of automatically adjusting exposure settings to maintain a specific exposure value (EV) throughout the duration of a time-lapse sequence. Bulb ramping intervalometers can be simple and cheap, or complex and expensive, depending on the results they can provide. Cheaper ones, and many DIY projects that you can follow to build your own, tend to produce fairly apparent jumps when exposure settings are changed, resulting in less-than-ideal results when a time-lapse sequence is stitched together into a video. More expensive intervalometers that offer bulb ramping capabilities tend to produce much finer adjustments over more frames, greatly reducing or eliminating visible jumps in exposure value in the final video.

Its somewhat possible to achieve bulb ramping with a normal intervolometer and automatic settings in a camera body. Things like auto ISO and a priority mode will usually achieve some degree of bulb ramping...but the results are often unpredictable. Using automatic and priority modes sometimes limit your options as well...such as only outputting JPEG images, or being limited in how much "ramping" can occur, etc. If you want the best results, buying or building a high quality bramper that supports fine adjustments over the duration of a time-lapse sequence will be necessary.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Thanks jrista. If you could maybe just touch on what settings are generally changed to make the adjustments that would be awesome. Is it ISO, shutter speed, aperture or does it choose a mix. I heard that the Little Bramper can make finer adjustments to shutter speed than you camera itself can? \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 21:43
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VianEsterhuizen: The settings are adjusted automatically, you don't have to change anything manually. Thats the value of a bramper. The information used to achieve that and the fineness of setting adjustments is what differentiates a cheap bramper from an expensive one. What settings are changed would also depend on the capabilities of the device...some may only change ISO, while a feature-filled one should be able to make the determination on its own or follow your configuration...say only adjust shutter speed down to a certain minimum, then adjust ISO after that. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 22:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ When it comes to a bramper that can make finer adjustments than you can, that would entirely depend on the brand, model, and its openness. Most Canon cameras support 1/3rd stop adjustments to ISO for example, however lower-end Canon's only use them when in AUTO ISO, and limit manual ISO selections to full stops. A decent bramper should be able to set any of the 1/3rd stop ISO settings, which would indeed be finer than you could adjust yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 22:42
  • \$\begingroup\$ What I saw in the video was actually that it can make 1/8 second adjustments to intervals vs the average of 1 full second so that's my bad. What you mentioned in your first comment is basically what I was looking for in the answer. Thanks. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 22:59
  • \$\begingroup\$ @VianEsterhuizen: Being able to make 1/8th second adjustments is still dependent upon what the camera body allows. Some brands may allow an external intervalometer to set any exposure configuration whatsoever, while others may restrict exposure settings to discrete values. \$\endgroup\$
    – jrista
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 23:03

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