I've long been interested in astrophotography, and it was one of the primary reasons I purchased my Canon 450D about 15 months ago. I've been working on getting milky way shots for the last 6 months, and finally feel I have the hang of both the theory and application.

I am interested in taking time-lapse short-exposure (25 seconds) shots over a period of several hours (possibly a full nights worth, 8-10 hours), in an effort to put together short movie clips of the stars and milky way moving across the night sky. I've found numerous intervalometers, including the Canon TC80N3, however they all seem to be for the XXD and XD series of bodies.

Are there any intervalometers that will work with a Canon Rebel XSi 450D body? Will the TC80N3 work? Or is time-lapse photography simply not a capability of Canon's entry-level bodies?

6 Answers 6


I've found a couple remote timers that will work with the Rebel line. Only one of them seems to actually support more than 399 explicit exposures, up to 9999 (or unlimited, which will apparently shoot until you manually stop it.) It is fairly cheap at $45, compared to nearly $200 for the TC80N3.

There is also an intervalometer from Aputure, which, while not quite as capable as the RainbowImaging one, supports exposures up to 399 or unlimited. It is also about $45:

The key search term to find these was "remote timer" or "timer remote", rather than "intervalometer". Hopefully others wishing to do time-lapse photography with their Rebel, and not wanting to spend hundreds of dollars, will be able to find some use in one of these devices.

  • The TC80N3 could also be modified to work on the 450D by cutting off its plug (for XD/XXD models) and putting the standard headphone jack (for XXXD/XXXXD models) on the end instead. Of course, a cheaper 3rd party remote would make more sense if you don't already have a TC80N3 (; Aug 11, 2010 at 18:52
  • I would probably have to be insane to chop up a $200 device, too. ;P
    – jrista
    Aug 11, 2010 at 20:10
  • There might be an adapter though, so that you don't need another one when you upgrade though... Nov 18, 2010 at 13:03

Check Pclix. Canon 450D is listed as supported camera, but I'm not 100% sure it fits your purposes. I have no experience with it myself, although it's high on my list (for timelapse experience).

These answers might also be useful.


Almost certainly overkill, but...

If you're happy to do a little programming you can make an infinitely configurable shutter control by cutting the connector off a generic remote shutter release and connecting it to an Arduino.

The Arduino is a tiny programmable device for electronics prototyping. It'll run for a really long time on regular batteries, its timer is reasonably accurate and it can also accept input from a huge range of cheap electronic sensors - so you can also set it up to trigger photos based on light, sound, movement, rain, bluetooth control... whatever.

I made one of these for my Nikon D90 after getting fed up with the ridiculous limits on number of exposures you get on most consumer intervalometers, and I love it.

The only downside is that it comes as a raw circuit board so you need to make some kind of robust protective case for it.

  • Intriguing idea. :) I am not afraid of a little DIY, and I do feel a bit limited by my current intervolometer (it can only go down to 1 second exposures, which only really works for very low-light or filtered scenes). A home-made one that lets me take shorter exposures would be a boon.
    – jrista
    Nov 18, 2010 at 22:23
  • @jrista, yes, anything you can do with a remote release you'll be able to control with the Arduino. You should be able to programmatically time bulb exposures and trigger autofocus too. Nov 19, 2010 at 13:35

I am not entirely convinced that you would need an intervalometer for what you want to do. Most timelapse movies that I have seen of the night sky seem to use a ~30 second interval for the shots. If you intent to use 25 second exposures you are quite close to that, so you could probably get away with a cheaper remote release that you can lock with the camera in continuous mode.

Of course an intervalometer will give you greater control (and it can be used for other subjects as well), but you could get started experimenting with a smaller investment.

  • Well, I have been experimenting. I don't really want to sit around and manually set the release every 30 seconds for some 200-300 shots. Hence the intervalometer.
    – jrista
    Aug 7, 2010 at 23:07
  • 1
    @jrista: that is why I suggested to use a remote cord where you can lock the release button (which I believe most, if not all, can); if you lock the shutter release with the camera in continuous mode it will automatically continue to take new shots until you release the lock. You don't need to be around to press the shutter. Aug 8, 2010 at 7:47
  • I do have a cable release, however with mirror lockup, it does not support continuous shooting mode. Without mirror lockup, I get camera shake. Additionally, if I did simply take 25 second shots one after the other, I would get a real-time sequence, where as I need a time-lapse sequence to actually show accelerated progression.
    – jrista
    Aug 8, 2010 at 8:17
  • 2
    @jrista: camera shake is typically not an issue with exposures as long as 25 seconds (but I guess that also depends on what camera support you have access to). Also, the time lapse effect comes from the delay between the starts of the exposures, not the waiting time between them. Consecutive 25-second exposures would give you a movie that is 25 times faster than real time (if we assume that we make the movie at 25 fps). Anyway, I assume you already tried out these things and didn't get the result that you wanted so I'll leave it at that. Aug 8, 2010 at 8:44
  • 1
    I'd have to agree that setting your camera in continuous shooting mode with a 30 second exposure time and a trigger lock sounds perfect. You could discard every second frame to get the timing sequence you're after, or just make the video and re-process it in a program that lets you speed it up afterwards. Aug 8, 2010 at 15:30

I've got a battery grip for my 450D that has controls to automate time-lapse and long-exposures (you can set the exposure length, time between exposures, length of exposures, and number of exposures) which is basically the same as these two from Amazon:

I got mine on eBay, but it looks identical to the pictures — I've also seen remotes that do exactly the same thing (but plug into the side rather than as a battery grip). Can't seem to find them right now though.

The only downside is (at least on the model I have) it has a maximum of 99 exposures, which would only last about 42 minutes @ 25sec per photo (with no gap between). You could of course come back and restart it every 42 minutes...? Or maybe newer models have increased this limit...

  • I did not realize there were battery grips for the 450D. I was looking to get an AC adapter for it, however if I could find a grip that included an intervalometer, that would work just as well.
    – jrista
    Aug 8, 2010 at 18:26
  • If you're in the US then just get them off Amazon as per the links, if not you might find them cheaper (after postage gets added) on eBay — I found mine searching for something to the effect of "canon 450d battery grip timer". Aug 11, 2010 at 18:46

In regards to the Vertical Battery Griper Timer (Intervoltometer) here:


I just emailed the manufacturer about the limit of 99 exposures and they said this: the battery grip can be set to take unlimited photos by setting it to "--"

So that may provide a VERY useful tool as you have both a battery extension and an extensive timer. Both are going to be needed for overnight timelapses, or in colder conditions.

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