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Sony A7III Night timelapses with built-in intervalometer


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Hi Everyone,
 
I was hoping to do some really cool day-to-night timelapses or timelapses of the Milky Way at night using the built-in intervalometer ("interval shooting") that was introduced in firmware v3.0. However, I've come across a big problem with it, and wondered if anyone else has. The camera is not exposing near enough for a dark sky, leading to shots that are way too underexposed.  It works OK for a relatively bright scene, such as city lights at night, but not dark skies.
 
To demonstrate this, simply turn on the camera, leave the lens cap on, and start an Interval shoot (10s interval, Auto ISO 100-12800, Aperture priority, F4).  The first picture in the series uses a shutter speed of 10 seconds at ISO 12800 (correctly, because it's the maximum exposure it can do based on our settings), but every picture after that uses a shutter speed of 0.6 seconds at ISO 12800. This doesn't make sense - it should be the same. If I lower the ISO value, it will use a longer shutter speed, but the overall exposure is the same - way too dark. Of course, when the lens cap is off, the same thing happens outside taking photos of the night sky. I have tried all sorts of settings - Program mode, a different lens with bigger aperture, different exposure modes, changed AE tracking sensitivity, but it doesn't make any difference. It seems like a limit was introduced where the shutter speed x ISO value is limited to 8000.
 
People using firmware v3.0 don't seem to have this problem, but I am on v3.1 (the latest), and also had it with v3.01. Unfortunately you can't go back to a previous firmware to confirm.
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Haven't tried it, but if your shutter speed is 10 seconds, and the interval is 10 seconds, there might be an issue getting ready to take the next shot.

  1. Is Long Exposure Noise Reduction turned off?
  2. Have you tried increasing the time between exposures to 30s just to see if that works?
Edited by dbmiller
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If I set it so that there is plenty of time between shots (in case the camera is busy writing/processing), it makes no difference, as does 30s between shots. Long Exposure Noise Reduction is off.  First exposure is 13" @ ISO 12800, all subsequent exposures are 8" @ ISO 1000.

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Have contacted Sony, but their reply suggested trying a different AE Tracking sensitivity, which makes no difference. Boxhead Mike discusses this issue in the comments section of his YouTube video on "Day to Night Timelapses with Sony A7III" -> https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LthqP0TQm88
Sort comments by Newest first and go down a couple of pages to comment by "Ralph Shieke" who is having the same problem.

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  • 3 months later...

The workaround, if you want to do day to night timelapses of dark skies, is to use an external intervalometer in Aperture priority for the whole thing. It will be more flickery, but something that will need to be cleaned up afterwards in LRTimelapse anyway. 

OR

use the built-in intervalometer in Aperture priority mode until ISO/Shutter speed gets high (close to Shutter speed x ISO = 8000), then switch to Shutter priority (assign settings to a memory) and use an external intervalometer for the rest.

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  • 2 weeks later...

My Sony a7iii started dong the same thing last weekend during sunset/sunrise timelapses. F4, ISO 800 shutter limited to 10s after shooting 1 frame at 30s. Changed to ISO 1600 and the shutter was limited to 5s. 

At home I put a 50mm 1.8 lens on knowing it would let enough light in and did a test and the problem was gone.  Put the f4 lens back on and the problem is gone. No idea whats gong on. I'lll keep the 1.8 lens with me in case the problem returns next sunrise shoot

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My Sony a7iii started dong the same thing last weekend during sunset/sunrise timelapses. F4, ISO 800 shutter limited to 10s after shooting 1 frame at 30s. Changed to ISO 1600 and the shutter was limited to 5s. 

At home I put a 50mm 1.8 lens on knowing it would let enough light in and did a test and the problem was gone.  Put the f4 lens back on and the problem is gone. No idea whats gong on. I'lll keep the 1.8 lens with me in case the problem returns next sunrise shoot

 

The problem returned when I put a 24-70 2.8 lens. The 50mm 1.8 lens lets more light in but is still limiting the shutter. No matter what I put the ISO to the shutter adjusst to get the same exposure

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No, focal length doesn't make a difference. Tried 24-105mm lens @105mm, but still the same problem. If you leave the lens cap on and do an interval shoot, the first photo is correctly exposed, but all the rest are limited to the Shutter x ISO=8000 rule. Can't see a way around it unless using an external intervalometer.

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A work around that worked with the lens cap on was to turn the Exposure Comp button up to +3.  The shutter stayed at 30s with an ISO 800 and 35s interval. If shooting a sunrise I'd start with that and dial it back to 0 as the light changed. Or reverse with a sunset

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Great workaround!  I tried it last night and setting Exposure Comp to +3 gives you 1 extra stop of exposure, and +5 (by using exposure setting rather than the dial) gives you 3 extra stops, which is good enough for dark milky way timelapses (f/2.8, 10s, ISO 6400).  Although trying to implement this for day-to-night timelapses will be tricky, because will need to know when the camera hits the limit, then a few minutes later dial in exp comp +3, then again +4 and finally +5.

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  • 9 months later...

This is EXTREMELY disappointing.  I added an a7r3 (with firmware 3.1) to my two a7r2's and I now have this problem.  WTF Sony.  It's obviously a software issue.  Has anyone happened to find a work around yet for holy grail lapses?  Huge thanks for your research on the issue.  I find this issue with all lenses tried: Sony 16-35 f2.8, Tamron 17-28 f2.8, Sony 14mm f1.8.  The ISO maxes out at 400 and never goes higher starting with the second shot in sequence only when using the internal shooting function.  For some reason, the first shot in the sequence matches the test shots, then the camera moves the ISO to 400 and leaves it.  If I move the exposure compensation up 3 stops (from zero) the ISO moves up to 800.  Weird ... move the exposure comp three stops and the camera only gives you two stops.

Any new ideas on this folks?

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Where should we write to get an answer if SONY knows about the problem at all and is it trying to solve it somehow?
If anyone knows let them write an email so we can bombard them with emails to find a solution :)

 

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I sent an email to Sony Australia (sony_supportps.au@ap.sony.com), and got this reply, which did not help. If more people complain, maybe Sony will do something about it. Trying their Web Chat might be the way to go:

 
Quote

 

Hi Damir,
 
Thank you for contacting Sony Customer Support. My name is Kat, here to assist you with the exposure levels while using the built-in intervalometer on your ILCE-7M3. I am happy to help!
First of all, apologies for the delay in our response. With the current situation right now, your understanding is highly appreciated.
Kindly check the AE Tracking Sens of your camera. It allows you to set the tracking sensitivity against the change in luminance during Interval Shooting.
 
If you select [Low], exposure changes during interval shooting will be smoother. If you select [High], the exposure value will change faster ([High]/[Mid]/[Low]).
Please set the AE Tracking Sens to [High] and test it out again.
 
If you have any more enquiries regarding this, let this email be a direct contact between us. You may also call us back, quoting this reference number C-0032817590 to the next agent who will handle your case.
 
Thank you very much for your time.
 
Kind Regards,
Kat
Alpha Support Representative
Sony Australia and New Zealand
☏ AU 1300 137669
☏ NZ 0800 766969  
Don't forget we offer the latest product updates, news and support 24 hours a day via our websites, Australia & New Zealand.

Web CHAT

Our support team are ready to support your inquiry online: Australia & New Zealand

Join the Community

Read our Sony Community Member comments or post a question

 

 

 

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@dmaksan - thanks for trying.  Unfortunately, Sony's response is worthless.  The AEL tracking sensitivity doesn't affect this bug in the least.  I wish they would just ask engineering why version 3.0 firmware works and 3.1 firmware doesn't.  There is a simple explanation.  Clearly a bug was introduced in the new firmware.  I did a test today with an external intervalometer in the USB 2 port and a USB battery in the USB C port and it worked fine.  I always run out of power for milkyway lapses so I usually need to have an external USB battery attached.  One of the most attractive things about the a7r3 was the bigger battery.  Unfortunately, after shooting some milkyway lapses with the a7r3, I've discovered that I can only get about 500 to 550 hi iSO 15s exposure shots on a battery so a USB bank is still going to be required.  It is better than the a7r2 though.  I've shot 100's of holy grail lapses with my a7r2's and a6000's using the Sony timelapse app.  Never had this issue.  They broke something that used to work.  I'd switch back to firmware version 3.0 if Sony would allow you to.  I feel stranded with an expensive paperweight. :(

My website has one of my timelapse films on the home page that I made from many a7r2 holy grail lapses in the Grand Canyon (here):  www.richrudow.com

I can't believe I have to eff with an a7r3 to do this kind of thing.  Buy a new camera and watch your productivity plummet.  Sigh.  I wonder if the R5 would have been a better choice?

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@Superstition. Nice timelapses. For Holy grail day-to-night, I think we just have to work around it with one of these methods, until Sony releases a fix:

1) use an external intervalometer in A priority and hope it handles maximum exposure time you want (e.g. 10 seconds)

2) use built-in intervalometer before it gets to a certain darkness (the critical Exposure x ISO value of 8000), then switch to S priority (memorised beforehand with the right settings) together with an external intervalometer

3) As mentioned before, use exposure compensation +3, +4 and +5 progressively as it gets darker. This will be difficult to implement in field.

4) Buy an A1 and hope that Sony has fixed it in that model. Then get ready to mortgage the house :)

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The intervalometer method works, but it's a shame to have to go back in time six years to clunky old tech.  When Sony didn't make the Play Memories app available to the A7R3, I decided I wouldn't buy it.  Period.  I stuck with my older cameras.  Now that the internal intervalometer is there, and I bought it, they f'ed it up!  I'm kinda pissed about all this.  The idea of buying another Sony like the A1 feels like rewarding incompetence. 

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  • 4 months later...

I wish it was fixed.  Sony hasn't done anything for this.  I can see the R5 eating their lunch.  It's really inexcusable. I shoot a lot of holy grail (sunset to Milkyway to dawn) lapses.  I set the camera(A7R3) to aperture priority and minimum shutter to 15s allowing the camera to adjust the shutter first (to 15s exposure) then start increasing the ISO (ISO max set to 12,800).  Ironically, this works quite well on the A7R2 where the ISO will float up to the MAX ISO setting in really dark conditions, but the A7R3 arbitrarily halts increasing the ISO at 400 when using the internal intervalometer.  Obviously, this is far too low for really dark nights when you're shooting the Milkyway.

You only have two options: 1) use an external intervalometer and it works fine, or 2) manually crank in +3EV as it gets really dark (+1EV steps over time) and use LRTimelapse to smooth out the transitions.  Be sure to manually crank down the EV shortly before dawn or you'll blow it out.

I'm a landscape photographer carrying gear in a backpack deep in the Grand Canyon over may days.  I need to go very light.  The thought of carrying an external intervalometer is nauseating.  For a holy grail timelapse, if you don't bias up EV, it settles on ISO 400 for dark times when the camera can no longer meter.  This is way too low!  However, if you bias up +3 EV you only get ISO 800.  Weird!!!  You ought to get ISO 3200.  I have no idea what Sony is thinking with their internal intervalometer software.  I can see that they don't want to over expose and blow things out, but they should ramp the ISO to the MAX ISO setting when the camera cannot meter.  That's why there is a MAX ISO setting!  Why dump your operating philosophy when the internal intervalometer is used?

As it is now, I have to crank up the exposure in post (even at ISO 800) to make this work.  I know the sensor is ISO invariant, but jacking up the post exposure by 3 or 4 EV seems to induce some extra noise.  Honestly, I'm back to using my A7R2 in some cases to deal with this crap.  Interesting to know that the A7R4 is just as screwed up.  Guess what I'm not doing?  UPGRADING!  The R5 is looking pretty good right now.

Maybe somebody else here is having a better experience?

 

 

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