When you want to create a time lapse, wind can shake your camera on its tripod. For many time lapses, it won’t be a problem, either because there is no wind or because the wide-angle images are not going to suffer from any visible shake. However, if you shoot with non-wide angle and especially with telephoto lens, it will certainly be a major issue.
In theory, there are different tools very capable to align time lapse members. Photoshop, as it can stack images for different purposes, has all you need. In reality, it is not designed for more than 10-20 images. So, forget Photoshop to align your time lapse members. Similarly, aligning them manually is nonsense as you can get easily 500-1’000 if not more time lapse images for just one-time lapse.
Adobe Premiere is a much better tool for such tasks but at $20+ / month, it is certainly overkill ! It does not make really sense for most of us to subscribe to the software just for aligning time lapses, right ?
That said, any tool with tracking capabilities could do the job but when it comes to the practicality, it is often a different story. For instance, I have tried Hugin, a great tool for Panoramas, free and open source. But as mentioned in different links, it can be tricky to align hundreds of images, especially if they have low contrasts, something frequent for time lapse at sunset or sunrise time. Remember, the software main goal is to create panoramas, not align time lapse members…
Basically, most of these tools have the tracking capabilities to align the members but it time consuming and sometimes more than challenging. For these reasons, I have developed and I have planned to release in the next version of Futura Photo, a feature able to auto-align several hundreds of images without any technical knowledge, nor manual featured points enabled / fine tuned by the user .
E.g., this video will show you what it did with a long-range time lapse shot from Geneva, Switzerland. Sunset are more beautiful when the wind blows but without the tool, forget the long range time lapse:
Another dramatic time lapse auto-aligned:
One last example, Futura Photo can stabilized hand held time lapse members:
Hand held camera, with a 500mm lens. Time Lapse of downtown Geneva, Switzerland
Same time lapse members, aligned with Futura Time Lapse