I’ve been having a lot of fun with time-lapse photography for several years now. It’s an incredibly fun and visually stunning form of photography. Back in June while photographing Yosemite as part of the One Day in Yosemite group project I was introduced to the eMotimo TB3 and was instantly wow’ed by it. In short it’s Pan and Tilt motion control head that enables photographers the ability to take 2 and 3-axis time-lapses, with or without a slider. In short it makes taking complex looking time-lapses a whole lot easier no matter what your skill level.
If you’re short on time, I recommend taking a look at the two videos I’ve embedded in this post. Seeing what the TB3 can do will be the easiest way to experience the same wow factor I did when I first saw it. What you’ll notice right away is that the head is controlled by a wireless Wii like controller. This one device allows you to control each axis of your shot. What is also incredibly cool is that the TB3 computer takes care of complex calculations and effortlessly charts a path for your camera to move across a scene, all based on a start and end point that you set.
eMotimo TB3 Intro & Overview
Where the eMotimo TB3 shines is in its simplified user interface and its ability to make complex time-lapse moves simple. On top of that it’s compact. It weights weighs 3lbs 9 oz, stands 7 inches tall and has a 5″x5″ base. This makes it easy to transport and store in a small or large camera bag. I personally have been carrying it in a ThinkTank Sling-o-matic 10 bag with a batter, the remote, a level and 1-2 lenses or a body & lens.
eMotimo TB3 Example Footage
For the technically minded the TB3 is built to grow. It’s run on an Arduino UNO microcontroller with open source firmware. The folks at eMotimo are often refining the programming and releasing firmware updates with new features. Out of the box it can be tethered to a computer and used with Dragonframe software to run even more complex moves. It’s 3rd axis control can be used with a motorized slider (ex. DynamicPerception Stage 1 or 0), a follow-focus solution or whatever you have the inclination to hack and plug into the device. It supports HDR time-lapse photography and also sequence ramping for natural looking starts and stops. In its current configuration it supports up to 8 pounds of gear.
I have to admit time-lapse photography is a different animal. Not only do you have to see and anticipate your subject differently you have to modify your in-the-field workflow, especially if you’re coming at this as a dedicated still photographer. While the TB3 makes things simple it can’t do its job if you leave a cord or battery behind. It’s for this reason that I’ve found a dedicated camera bag to be helpful. One other factor that you’ll have to consider is setup time. While the screens guiding you through the setup of the TB3 are straight forward it does take some time to get your shot set up and to test it. For this reason I’d recommend allotting extra time to get to your shoot and set up, but this is true of any time-lapse shoot whether using a motion control solution or not. One particularly nice feature is that once you’ve setup your shot the settings are saved and the exact same sequence can be run as many times as needed. This feature is a lifesaver particularly if you’re out to capture sequences in changing light.
The TB3 is one of a select few pieces of gear I’ve used that is game changing. It’s nothing short of amazing and given the level of functionality its a bargain for the price. For more information check out the eMotimo TB3 page. If you order one be sure to make note that you learned of it from Jim over at JMG-Galleries in your order notes.