GoPro introduced the time-lapse mode with the Hero 4 cameras. Therefore, you’ll need a Hero 4 or a newer GoPro model to shoot a time-lapse.

Time Lapse is a great way to achieve some really cool effects by taking a sequence of frames at set intervals to record changes that take place slowly over time.

In this guide you’ll learn about the various GoPro time lapse settings you need to create a time lapse that looks amazing!


How to Make a TimeLapse with GoPro

Thanks to the built-in time-lapse mode, shooting a time lapse with GoPro is quite easy. Here the general steps for setting up a GoPro for shooting a time lapse video:

Select Video Mode

Select Video Mode using the mode button on the front of the camera.

gopro hero 12 settings

Change the Video Mode to Time Lapse

Once in video mode, access the video settings and change the Video Mode to Time Lapse. Here are the various options you’ll see – Time Lapse Video, Time Lapse Photo, Night Lapse Photo. In case you own a GoPro Hero 8 or newer camera, you’ll also get an additional option: Time Warp.

gopro hero 12 time lapse

Choose the Interval Settings

Now, go back to the main menu. Under the mode, choose the interval option. Here you can change the interval, which means how often the camera will take a photo for the time lapse. The longer the interval is, the shorter your resulting footage will be. As default, GoPro time lapses use a 30 fps frame rate.

Mount the Camera

Mount the GoPro on something like a tripod so that it remains stationary for a longer duration. GoPro time lapse works best when the camera is stationary. Otherwise, it may look shaky. So, unless you have a newer GoPro camera with the Time Warp feature, ensure that your GoPro remains stationary while shooting a time lapse.

Start Shooting Amazing GoPro TimeLapse Videos

There you go! You’re ready to start shooting by pressing the shutter button. Once you’ve finished recording, press the shutter button again to end the time lapse.

That’s it! You’re done creating an appealing time lapse video using your GoPro (without the need of post-production).


GoPro Time Lapse Settings

Now that you know about the basics as to how you can set up GoPro Time Lapse, let’s get to the details.

Which Time Lapse Mode Should You Choose

GoPro offers 3 Time Lapse modes:

  1. Time Lapse Video,
  2. Time Lapse Photo, and
  3. Night Lapse Photo.

Newer GoPro touch screen display showing time lapse setting menu

Time Lapse Video

In time lapse video mode, GoPro records footage for a long duration and creates the output time lapse file in video format. This one is a simple and quick solution to shoot great time lapse videos using your GoPro, without the need of post-production. However, you may have to compromise on the image quality, as the Protune option is not available in this setting.

Pro Tip: If your GoPro offers 4k resolution, I’d recommend you to use it as it will give you more editing freedom in post-production (you can crop your image without loosing too much quality).

For time-lapse settings for GoPro Hero 10 check out: GoPro Hero 10 Time Lapse & Time Warp GUIDE + Best Settings.

Time Lapse Photo

In time lapse photo mode, the GoPro captures images at a specifically-timed interval — for example, once every five seconds — and gives output in JPEG or RAW image formats. However, you need to download the multiple images and join them together in post-production to get a time lapse video.

The image below is a perfect example. It shows a number of photos captured at a set time interval within the span of a full day.


Night Lapse Photo

As the name suggests, Night Lapse Photo mode is meant for time lapse shots in low light conditions. In this setting, GoPro allows longer exposure time for clearer shots in low light. Depending upon the light available, you can choose the shutter speed. Lower lighting usually needs higher shutter speed. Or, you can set the shutter speed to ‘Auto’ and let your GoPro decide.

Do you want to film a time lapse while driving?

Check out the article where I explain Recommended GoPro Time Lapse Settings for Driving

Choosing the Shooting Interval

You can choose the shooting interval of time lapse, which ranges from one image every 0.5 second up to 60 seconds per frame. For most situations you will find that a 2-second interval works best. However, if your situation requires slower or faster playback speeds then adjust accordingly. Reduce the interval (0.5 or 1 second) and your video will slow down. Increase the interval (5 to 60 seconds) and your video will run faster.

Choosing the Shooting Length

The camera settings for shooting length of a time lapse depend on what you want to capture. If it is an action scene like traffic or people walking by, then you need to shoot for at least 10 minutes if you’re using an interval of 2 seconds. This will create a 10-second video clip.

For slow moving scenes such as sunsets with beautiful colors fading in front of your eyes over time, make sure that the length is at least 1 hour so that all details can be shown before going into nightfall. A longer interval also means capturing more detail which could include shadows lengthening across streets from buildings along them (which would have been casted otherwise), and children playing out their last moments until dusk sets in.