Agree with Tom Last about the cheap intervalometers being good. I had one for my last camera, and found it easier to use than the built in one in my d7000.
For daytime shooting I have found Aperture Priority mode to be a good choice, as I find DOF changes more noticeable than exposure changes. Having said that, manual is best if you can be confident that the world will remain within the dynamic range of your camera.
For night time shooting you are almost always better off with manual. It's worth making sure that your interval accounts for any extra noise reduction steps, as these can be time consuming. If you do have something like Nikons auto dark frame stuff then it may be worth switching it off.
Night time/long exposure timelapse seems to eat batteries like nobodies business. Consider getting an external power supply or battery grip.
In all cases (day or night) you need to check and double check that you have the framing and focus you want, as if not you could end up with a few hundred frames of it.
Finally, if all you want at the end is a video then switch to jpeg only and maybe even reduce resolution a bit. Nothing worse than coming back and finding a full card.
> You can get cheap (~£15) Chinese intervalometers off of ebay for a quarter of the price of the Canon/Nikon varieties, that do exactly the same thing.
For a similar amount of money another option might be to pick up a cheap Canon point-and-shoot camera and install CHDK. That way the massive shutter count would be going onto what's effectively a disposable camera.
You certainly do get more editing options with raw, but running out of space is a real problem. For a good looking animation you want an absolute minimum of 20-30fps, so the space adds up extremely quickly.
I would shoot RAW for sure as it gives you heaps more options in post (although i mean more options to tweak dynamic range, just get WB right in camera!) however think about processing before shooting RAW, as 10gb odd RAW sequences makes even high end servers chug so depends on what your editing on. If you get it all right in cam then jpeg is fine, and if you dont get it right in cam, you really want to tweak 240 images?!?!
That extra size in terms of image vs hd video is useful IMHO to allow u to pan and crop in post afterwards though and create a few interesting effects etc
a lot of DSLRS allow you to shoot both raw and jpeg, so you if you use something like adobe after effects you can use the jpeg sequence as a proxy for your RAW, edit tweak and then render the raw (which takes ages!!)
re: intervalometer is essential if you DSLR cannot do it in Cam (most canons can take advantage of the magic lantern sd card hack if you need it and worth a play)
I would shoot all manual but take other posters point about aperture priority mode, but still pick your time and light well and shoot all manual if u can to avoid flicker etc! LRT timelapse is a cool bit of software that allows you to blend frames and deflicker if it gets too bad
Critically though use an ND filter if you can during daylight....those gorgeous time-lapse you see are usually always filtered and dragging the shutter with longer exposures for the aperture (longer u can expose for whilst not blowing things out, is my personal preference and gives motion blur rather than stop start animation )
use a tripod and remember at 24fps you need at least 240 frames to make around 10secs of footage at 30fps of course higher (seriously this is what most ppl under estimate esp at night as takes forever and you can be out for hours so frame it well, dont rush the set up and have fun!!) heaps of good info here http://timescapes.org/
Oh and shameless plug whilst we are on the topic, I shot this in peru a while ago on a little trip http://www.vimeo.com/70253164 heaps of time lapses in the evenings, and was fortunate to be out there when we had that super moon a while ago! enjoy!
Here's my first attempt at Time Lapse and I'm quite sure that I can make improvements in both technique and choice of subjects. I tarted up the images, JPEGS, in Lightroom and used Windows Movie Maker to publish my project.
The reason I used JPEGS was because I forgot to change the settings. Everything else was manual.
I'd very much appreciate constructive criticism and such like.
You can also zoom into and pan across the image without moving the camera.
LRTimelapse lets you do this fairly easily. Its great if you already use lightroom, although a touch complex for some, I highly recommend it. The free version lets you make timelapses of up to 400 images for non-comercial use.