In order to get some magnificent results when it comes to nighttime timelapses, there are a few things you might consider packing into your gear bag. For example, a proper astro filter, which blocks out ugly light pollution from nearby artificial light sources such as cities, is a must.
How To Pull off Great Night Sky Timelapses
Have you ever driven all the way out of town towards the countryside in order to pull off some marvelous timelapses of the milky way, but the results are poor and mushy? Maybe you should consider buying a proper astro filter to avoid this light pollution — which just has ruined your work.
Nighttime timelapses, when done right, can look incredible. Here are some outstanding nighttime timelapses put together by National Geographic:
Shooting like National Geographic will require lots of practice and perhaps modifying your camera just a bit. You will need to adjust the incoming light spectrum which hits your cameras sensor a bit without voiding your warranty. For this, some filtration comes in handy and there are two major approaches: a clip in astro filter or a classic front astro filter.
An Astro Filter will block out any artificial light such as cities or street light to a certain degree, while enhancing other wavelengths of the spectrum. The result is a less polluted and therefore considerably clearer view of the starry night.
Clip In Astro Filter vs. Classic Front Filter
The Taiwanese company, STC Optical, has released a series of clip in astro filters which will help you get the perfect night timelapse. There are two versions: one for Canon and one for Nikon full frame DSLRs. Don’t forget to check out the product specifications to see if your given camera model is fully supported: STC product page. In order to install the filter you’ll need to manually lock up the mirror in the cameras menu. With the mirror box now exposed you can click the filter in. You will need to take the single timelapse frames in live mode since the viewfinder is now being blocked by the locked up mirror. You can remove the filter at any time.
Another way to pull off that epic night sky timelapse is to use a classic front filter in a simple filter holder or your favorite mattebox brand. Lonely Speck just offered a preorder on two versions of their “PureNight” branded astro filters. The 100mm version is already funded (by 406%!), while there are 4 more days left to fund the remaining 16% that separates the 85mm version from becoming a reality. Check out their product page for all the details: lonelyspeck.com.
Not sure which model to get? Well, if your given camera is not capable of locking up the mirror, you should get a classic front filter, of course. And if you are planning an epic 14mm ultra wide angle night sky timelapse, the clip in option would be the better choice, otherwise you’ll deal with an awful lot of vignetting.
Pricing and Availability
The STC models can be purchased here: Canon / Nikon. Both models are $208.81. The Lonely Speck filters are on preorder, so expect that the price will rise over time. Check out their site here. The 85mm version is $219 while the 100mm version is $239.
Are you already packing your gear to shoot a real starry night between Christmas and New Year’s Eve? Let us know in the comment section below!