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Quest For Motion

Jesse Attanasio

My Quest

A little over a year ago, I decided to take the dive into motion control timelapse photography. At the time, the options I found were from Kessler and Dynamic Perception. Kessler was too large of an investment for something I didn't fully understand. I read a lot about Dynamic Perception's Stage Zero and watched plenty of tutorials and example videos to see how it works and what it could do. After a few back and fourth conversations with Randy Halverson (aka dakotalapse) I took the plunge and made my purchase of the Stage Zero system, but without the rail. Instead, I bought the rail from Amazon in three 2 foot sections and some adapter plates to connect them so I could break down my rail to travel or reduce weight.

 

 

 

Setup of Stage zero

It took me a while to learn how to appropriately control the MX2 and achieve the movements I was looking for, but in the end it was the D|P HELPER app that helped tremendously. I combined that app's calculations with a small ruler that can measure down to as little as 1/60th of an inch to establish true distance movement. This eliminates me having to calibrate the controller while doing certain angles or changing camera bodies or mounts. I usually calculate to overshoot a shot with the MX2. This assures me that the expected distance will be traveled. The result will at least cover the minimum amount of frames needed. 

 

Roughly 80 lbs. of camera and backpacking gear

After my backpacking trip in Alaska through the tundra I brought with me my Stage Zero system as well as all of my additional camera equipment. I realized it was incredibly straining on my back and shoulders to carry roughly 80 lbs. of camera and backpacking gear. I started to wonder if I should buy the Stage One dolly which is made for travel and can be broken down into sections as well. However, I couldn't justify buying a whole new dolly system yet.

Kickstarter campaigns for motion control timelapse systems started to take off. I began exploring other options for movement besides Dynamic Perception. Most of them had intuitive designs and ended up being successfully backed and produced, however they did not have any features that really stood out.

 

Setup shot of Chronos Lite using manfroto Magic arm

 I was lightly following the posts by Chris Field (aka Jack Ripper) on Timescapes.org for quite some time, but never read too far into Project Chronos. When Chris posted a teaser of the Chronos Lite rail on the Project Chronos Facebook page, I knew it was exactly what I was looking for. There are many videos on his Vimeo page demonstrating and explaining his Chronotimer and it's functions; specifically catering for timelapse. The Chronotimer and it's two dial system seemed easy to make adjustments, yet packed full with different ramping modes, repeat/reversal patterns and even a live ramping mode which I have never seen or heard of before.

I don't have the patience nor the expertise to build one of these systems. Therefore, I emailed Chris to order one as soon as I had the funds. Right out of the box, I plugged the motor into the controller, hooked up the battery, and did a run that took exactly 360 shots with 9 second intervals. It moved exactly 34 inches, and had a 30 percent symmetrical ramp and was moving 90 degrees vertical. This was amazing to me, because now I can spend more time achieving the composition I really want and ensure that my camera is correctly exposing the scene without feeling rushed.

Shot of canon 6d on Chronos Lite, taken with Canon T2i @ 11mm f2.8

Whenever I go on a trip or head out to do timelapse, I almost always pack both rails and all of my camera gear into my Jeep even though I normally only bring one camera body. I mostly reach for my Chronos Lite system due to its lightweight, easy setup, and built-in adjustable legs. It makes the motion side of things very simple and dependable for the correct amount of shots that will be taken within the distance I have selected. Previously, on my MX2, I neglected to apply ramping. I wanted to avoid miscalculation that could result in a poorly composed timelapse clip. With my Chronotimer, I can not only setup symetrical ramping with complete accuracy, but I can apply a asymmetrical ramp, which is awesome. To learn more about symmetrical and asymmetrical ramping with Chronotimer I suggest you check out this short video explaining how it works. 

Everything shown packs in or on the bag and total weight is roughly 25lbs

I would also like to add that I have knocked my total camera gear backpack weight down from roughly 40lbs to 25lbs. One of the biggest contributors to weight loss was my Chronos Lite. I since even added two more lenses, a set of LEE filters and sometimes even a laptop to my pack list.  I have been incredibly impressed with my Chronos Lite and the customer service that Chris provides.  Eventually I plan on selling my Stage Zero system and Merlin Pan/Tilt head to get another Chronos system or possibly another body.

Comparison Review

Comparison Review

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