Time-lapse made easy: Pico accessory automatically sets, controls your camera

Pico is a small accessory that adds smartphone-like controls to a traditional camera

time lapse made easy pico accessory automatically sets controls camera
You may have noticed (and are perhaps even using) a unique shooting mode popping up in your smartphone camera app: time-lapse. Time-lapse photography is that cool technique in which a stationary camera is set to automatically capture a sequence of photos (at selected intervals) within a specified duration. For example, you can shoot every minute for six hours, giving you 360 shots; in turn, you produce a short motion picture that’s sped up during playback (if you’ve seen those videos of a flower blooming or stars moving across the night sky, that’s time lapse).

While cameras like the iPhone (which added time-lapse via iOS 8) have made time-lapse a breeze, it’s slightly more involved with an interchangeable lens camera. While a DSLR or mirrorless camera can shoot higher quality images, setting one up for time-lapse is more technical. But a new product called Pico aims to change the experience, by putting smartphone-like ease-of-use into a higher-end camera.

Pico is a little device designed by Mindarin, the six-man team behind the Astro, a successful Kickstarter product that’s an intervalometer and motion controller for time-lapse photography. Whereas the Astro was made for advanced users, Pico was created to be easy to use by everybody else.

Related: How to create time-lapse video on your iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

“Time-lapse photography has become very popular in the past couple of years, but it still feels unreachable to many people,” the company says. “There is so much that can be done with time-lapse, from home videos to professional movies, and we feel like its potential is still yet to be reached.”

Here’s how it works: Pico plugs into the headphone jack of your smartphone (iOS and Android). Using the companion app, you can create a program with all the time-lapse settings, and save it to Pico. You can then remove Pico and reattach it to your camera (via a special cable), and Pico then takes care of the camera controls. If you don’t have a smartphone handy, you can also manually set Pico by pressing and holding it; the number of beeps emitted indicates a one-second interval, and it will tell the camera to keep shooting until you unplug it.

Here’s how the Pico works. Attach it to your smartphone and adjust the settings, then plug it into your camera. Pico takes care of the shooting from there.

Within the app, you can also set Pico to take high-dynamic-range (HDR) photos, bulb ramping (to compensate for changes in natural light, like creating a seamless transition from day to night), and time warp (to adjust speed of time within time-lapse for slow or fast effect).

Pico is small enough to stash in a pocket, and it has a battery life of up to eight year – that’s right, years. With nine special cables to choose from, Mindarin says Pico supports more than 300 cameras that include not only DSLRs and mirrorless models, but also certain advanced point-and-shoots.

Mindarin just launched a Kickstarter campaign for the Pico on November 11, 2014, and a $50 pledge will get you one and a cable compatible with your camera (early-bird specials have already been gobbled up). The team says they have already tested several prototypes and are confident they can deliver the final product by July 2015. It has a goal of $100,000, but it has 59 days (as of this writing) to raise that amount.

Photography

Olympus’ latest teaser shares glimpse of new OM-D camera geared toward sports

Is Olympus about to release a new mirrorless camera geared toward sports photographers? The latest teaser offers a glimpse of an upcoming OM-D camera set to launch on January 24, and by the looks of the teasers, it's geared toward sports.
Photography

The best mirrorless cameras pack all the power of a DSLR, minus the bulk

Mirrorless cameras offer a lot of photography firepower, inside a compact body. Explore the best mirrorless cameras, from the pro-level to the beginner-friendly shooters, in this guide.
Photography

Starting your very own vlog? Here are the best cameras to buy

Any camera that shoots video can be used to vlog, but a few models stand out from the crowd thanks to superior image quality, ergonomics, and usability. When it comes to putting your life on YouTube, here are the best cameras for the job.
Photography

What to look for and what to avoid when buying a camera

Looking to buy a new camera? Our comprehensive camera guide for 2016 has answers to any camera or photography questions you might ask, whether in regards to pricing, image quality, or weatherproofing.
Photography

These point-and-shoot cameras make your smartphone pics look like cave paintings

If your smartphone camera just isn't giving you the results you're looking for, maybe it's time to step up your game. The latest and greatest point-and-shoot cameras offer large sensors, tough bodies, and long lenses -- something no phone…
Photography

Lexar’s latest SDXC card keeps you shooting with 1 TB of storage

Shoot large files at high capacity? Lexar's latest SDXC memory card will fit a terabyte of storage inside your camera. The Lexar SD card is part of the company's Professional 633x series. That higher capacity will come at a cost, however.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: heat-powered watches, phone cases with reflexes

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Photography

See ya, CFast: 1TB CFexpress card transfers photos at 1,400MB per second

The latest trend in professional removable storage media is fast approaching. At CES 2019, ProgradeDigital revealed its first CFexpress card, featuring a 1-terabyte capacity and bewildering 1,400 megabyte-per-second transfer rate.
Photography

From 11K to just OK: The biggest photo gear announcements at CES 2019

From 11K cameras to 1 TB media cards, CES 2019 brought a peek at new gear for photographers and videographers. But what photography gear grabbed our attention the most? Here are the biggest photo gear announcements from CES 2019.
Social Media

No yolk! A photo of an egg has become the most-liked post on Instagram

Until this weekend, the most-liked post on Instagram was of Kylie Jenner's baby daughter, which has around 18 million likes. It's now been knocked off the top spot not by a stunning sunset or even a cute cat, but by an egg.
Photography

Going somewhere? Capture more than your phone can with the best travel cams

Hitting the road or doing some globetrotting this year? Bring along the right camera to capture those once-in-a-lifetime vacation memories. Here's a list of some of our current favorites.
Photography

From 4K powerhouses to tiny action cams, here are the best video cameras

Although not as popular as they once were, dedicated video cameras still have their benefits. From travel vlogging to home movies to recording your kid's little league game, here are the best video cameras you can buy right now.
Photography

Authentic, holistic, retro photography is in: Here are 2019’s predicted trends

What types of imagery are we most drawn to? According to recent stock photography data from Adobe, StoryBlocks, and Shutterstock, authentic, holistic, and humanitarian content will be in high demand in 2019.