I know that most of DSLR can shoot timelapses by using software solutions, sparing the purchase of an intervalometer. My questions:

  • Any recommendation or suggestion about the software I could use (I'm using a Canon 7d)?
  • Are there any major downsides to this solution?
  • I suppose that the camera has to be connected to a computer through its USB interface. Any danger for the camera's battery?
  • A word about the final quality of that kind of solution?
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ A hardware option only costs $15USD - amzn.com/B003F69JBW \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:13
  • \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt Yep but it's just for a one time thing; I'd prefer not buying anything, but thanks. Also all these questions are more or less linked to the same specific things (timelapse shooting without hardware using a 7d), so I'm not that sure than splitting it into 4 questions is really a good idea. \$\endgroup\$
    – Anto
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:18
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ @dpollitt - It is not the same. Here I believe the asker is asking for a software to drive the camera and the other question is about a software to assemble a time-lapse which was already taken. Those are completely different software functions. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:28
  • \$\begingroup\$ Exactly. Also this is a Canon question, while the one you are refering to is a Nikon one (before asking anything, I searched [canon] [timelapse] and didn't find the question you are mentioning). So I still think this question is revelant for photo.se ;) \$\endgroup\$
    – Anto
    Commented Oct 30, 2012 at 15:30
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ if you've Android phone/tablet, try DSLR Controller, it's very cheap considering the options it has \$\endgroup\$
    – K''
    Commented Jul 11, 2013 at 14:30

3 Answers 3


You can use the software "EOS Utility" that comes with the camera. The remote shooting function lets you do time lapse through a connected USB cable.


  • You have the space of the PC hard disk instead of the flashcard, which is most likely much larger. That is great if you take really long time lapses.
  • You can also see better what is happening and change settings, focus etc. If you take images with the intervalometer or magic lantern, you have to stop the time lapse first, check the images, then restart it. Specially over longer time lapses, the lens will unfocus unless you tape it in place. If you can look anytime at the current images, you can fix the focus if necessary while doing the shooting. With other solutions you have to look through the viewfinder and try to see the focus there.
  • You do not have to work with alternative firmware, which is daunting for some people, as when you use magic lantern.


  • You cannot take as fast sequenced images. I think the maximum speed is one shot every 10 seconds since the data has to be transferred through the cable between every shot (I guess). With an intervalometer you can go much faster (every second I think).

Other points:

  • In both cases, with software and intervalometer, you might need extra battery support.
  • There is no worry for your battery to connect the USB cable, since the USB cable does not try to charge your camera.
  • Final image quality in general is the same, except for the point that you can readjust focus when using a cable much easier.

You can do it using Magic Lantern software for your Canon. In fact, there's a setting that will save you some shutter opens/closes.


The camera does not need to be connected to the computer. There is no real danger to the camera. Depending on how long the timelapse is, you may need to have the camera on a power supply, or use a battery grip with extra batteries.

Using the Magic Lantern software is straight forward, just follow the instructions. http://magiclantern.wikia.com/wiki/Magic_Lantern_Firmware_Wiki

  • \$\begingroup\$ It seems like Magic Lantern doesn't have an intervalometer for the 7D yet \$\endgroup\$
    – Ghigo
    Commented Mar 10, 2013 at 4:23

If you have a Canon camera you can install what is called CHDK (Canon Hack Development Kit) onto your SD Card and then be able to load all kinds of great scripts to your camera. I do this for intervalometer scripts and motion detection on my canon point and shoot sx230hs. There is absolutely no need to buy an intervalometer at all!! http://www.intervalometer.org/chdk walks you through the best steps to load CHDK onto your Canon. Enjoy!


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