I was looking for a cheap way to do timelapse videos and unfortunately most cheap cameras don’t even have this feature built in. I managed to find the Pentax K-50 but it seems that the camera is running in video mode and the end product is a full HD 30fps video, produced by the camera itself.

I would really like to have the ability to produce video in higher resolution and to also have more control of the photos in post-production.

Am I right to pursue this or should I settle for video mode in 1080p? Does anyone own a similar-priced camera that produces timelapse photos instead of only video?

I would prefer to avoid connecting the camera to a PC to do timelapse in order to avoid system instabilities and to dedicate a notebook just to this task.

I also found a YouTube video of a guy that does a timelapse test with a Pentax K-30 and you can clearly hear that the camera is taking photos but the end product is only video, not an image album: I would prefer to get an image album and render the video later on my own.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ The K-50 has an Interval Timer. You do not have to use the Video Time Lapse feature but you have to assemble the time-lapse yourself. \$\endgroup\$
    – Itai
    Commented Jul 30, 2016 at 19:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ Are you talking timelapse (automatically taking pictures at set intervals)? Or stop-motion animation (shooting one frame at a time)? \$\endgroup\$
    – inkista
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 6:09
  • \$\begingroup\$ I'm talking timelapse. \$\endgroup\$
    – potato
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 8:52
  • \$\begingroup\$ @null The question really is, will time-lapse produced by the camera at 1080p (note, that the camera forces me to use 1080p, because of it's settings I can't override) be of worse quality than the images taken by intervalometer at higher quality, and than shrinked to 1080p? \$\endgroup\$
    – potato
    Commented Jul 31, 2016 at 9:12

2 Answers 2


With the Pentax K-30, it will produce a series of still images if rather than going through video mode as the video you linked to describes, you select "interval shooting" in page 2 of the capture menu instead. This is probably similar with the K-50.

I would certainly expect that you should get better quality this way; as vclaws' answer points out, the video mode for the models in question will produce output at 1920x1080 at best, while you retain the ability to use higher resolution when writing from individual frames. Even if 1080p is the desired output format, you will have better control over the encoding process this way, and could potentially also use the extra resolution to crop the output (for example, I've been contemplating shooting a time-lapse of slime mould cultures growing in a Petri dish; this would allow framing the entire specimen and later cropping areas of interest in post).

I'm not sure if this can also be combined with a mirror lock up. It's worth noting that repeated shutter actuations will cause wear and tear to the device and I'm not sure this can be mitigated.


To answer the question - yes, an in-camera timelapse mode is usually lower quality than taking a series of still photos, and creating a timelapse on a computer afterwards. Though it will depend on the camera make and model, as to exactly how it works.

The obvious difference is the resolution - the video produced by the camera is probably limited to 1920*1080 (about 2 megapixels) at best. Whereas the still photos are much higher resolution (up to 10 or 20 megapixels). So this would allow you to produce a higher resolution timelapse.

Even if you don't want such a high resolution video, the extra resolution would allow you to crop the photos if you only want part of the frame, or to change the aspect ratio. Or you could simulate a panning timelapse, from a fixed camera position, by altering the cropping throughout the sequence.

Also depends on what video format the camera produces, but it is probably uses some sort of lossy compression. This may not be too noticeable, but you would lose quality if you edited the video later.

The video from the camera will be a fixed speed. This may be an option in the camera settings. But once the video is produced, you can't really change it, unless you edit the video file, which can reduce quality. Whereas if you have a sequence of photos, you can produce whatever speed of timelapse you want. It allows you to try different speeds, and see what looks best. You could also skip parts of the sequence, if they don't look nice, or include distractions etc.

A series of photos also allows other editing, either in bulk, or edits to particular frames.


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