If you shoot time-lapse from a stationary tripod, you’re basically stuck with the scene as you frame it. Motorized camera sliders like the Cinetics LYNX let you add an extra dimension of motion to your time-lapse photography by changing the position of your camera during the capture process.
Cinetics describes the LYNX as “a precision camera slider and multi axis motor control system.” By multi axis, Cinetics is referring to the system’s ability to not only move the camera from left to right, but also to pan and tilt, enabling a range of camera movements that can be combined creatively.
Working with the LYNX was my first experience with a camera slider system, so I’ll state upfront that I have nothing to which to compare it. What I can say is that it worked exactly as I expected, and even with no prior experience, I found it easy to assemble, program and use.
Setting up the Cinetics LYNX
The complete LYNX system consists of slider rails, motors to power the slide, pan and tilt movements, plus a controller unit that also contains the rechargeable battery to power the system for 3 hours continuously or up to 24 hours in power save mode.
The controller has Bluetooth connectivity, allowing you to create movement programs with either the controller itself via its LCD display, or with a smartphone app that’s available for iOS and Android devices. The whole rig took about ten minutes for me to set up the first time — unboxing included — and less than two minutes once I was familiar with the system.
With the LYNX assembled, you add your camera via an Arca-Swiss style plate and connect the controller unit by cable to your camera’s remote control terminal. The plate and base allow you to adjust the position of the camera for access to its terminal ports. Multiple cables are available for compatibility with a wide range of cameras from the major manufacturers, including many older models. Chances are good that there’s a cable for yours. This connection enables the controller to trigger your shutter as needed for the program you create.
Creating A Cinetics LYNX Program
Several presets are available for subjects like sunsets and astrophotography, but part of the fun is creating a custom program unique for your subject. This is done by setting keyframes (starting and ending positions for the camera). You set each of the movements — slide, pan and tilt — plus the duration of the movement, the interval between shots and your camera’s shutter speed, and can use multiple keyframes to change those parameters for each segment.
Setting the camera position for each keyframe is very straightforward. The controller software steps you through it as you move the camera from the starting point to the endpoint of each keyframe, adjusting the slider position, pan and tilt. Looking through your camera viewfinder as you go, you can see the precise composition of your initial and final frames. Once you’ve set your keyframes, the controller software does all the calculations for you to move the camera incrementally from the starting position to the ending position.
For the time-lapses I created, I used an interval of 10 seconds for 10 minutes, capturing 600 frames for each time-lapse, then used Photoshop to create the final time-lapse video at 24fps, resulting in videos of 25 seconds each. I used a 50mm lens on a full-frame camera to avoid wide-angle distortion, and manually set my focus.
Example Time-lapse Videos With Cinetics LYNX
This first time-lapse uses all three camera movements: slide, pan and tilt.
These two use only slide and pan.
Cinetics LYNX Is Great Accessory For Time-lapse
Though I’ll admit to being a little intimidated at first, having no experience with a camera motion rig like this, I really enjoyed working with it and the intimidation factor quickly went away as I assembled the system and created my first program. Cinetics has made this system extremely easy to set up and use. For what it can do, it’s reasonably portable at 12.5 pounds and 24 inches long. The carbon fiber, aluminum and stainless steel components feel solid and durable.
I didn’t have the occasion to take it to an ideal destination during the time I had the review unit, but I can imagine lots of fun ways to use the LYNX for capturing starry skies over Joshua Tree, storms moving through Grand Canyon or sunset at Oxbow Bend. And it’s not just useful for time-lapse; camera movements when recording live video are an obvious use, but you could also employ just the slider motor to move your camera evenly across a scene capturing frames for a panorama.
The Cinetics LYNX is available for preorder on Kickstarter through Friday, May 5, 2017 at a discounted price of $1,499 for the complete system, with expected delivery in August. The standard list price will be $1,999 when LYNX is officially available in September. Contact: Cinetics, cinetics.com.