Smart Camera Triggers
One of the things I see people commonly visit my site for is to get a better understanding of some of the smart camera triggers which are on the market, as well as what the differences are between brand X and brand Y. In this post I wanted to give a little bit of an update as to the state of smart triggers for Digital and/or mirrorless cameras, what I am aware of and what is apparently coming in the pipeline in 2021 and slightly beyond. Note these are just my opinions so note that your mileage may vary. Also note some of these may be Kickstarter in which case there are risks associated with Kickstarter campaigns so as always you should do your own due diligence.
Types of Triggers / Devices
There are multiple broad types of smart triggers, there may be some cross over between these but generally they are broken down into the three groups below:
- Smart Triggers (e.g. Smart Intervalometers): these devices connect to the shutter/trigger port of your compatible camera, and trigger the shutter on a condition (e.g sound above x level, lightning detected, beam broken) however, they have no ability to change the camera settings, an example of this is Pluto Trigger or MIOPS Remote/Smart.
- Hybrid Smart Triggers: these devices connect to the PC port of your compatible camera, and trigger the camera through that port on a condition being met (e.g sound above x level, lightning detected, beam broken), because they connect through the USB port they can change the camera settings accordingly but this is usually a manual process (i.e. you change the settings to what you want them to be). An example of this is the MIOPS Flex.
- Smart Camera assistants: These devices connect to your compatible camera through the PC port and adapt the camera settings based on the image being taken and the conditions (e.g. amount of camera shake). These are typically not like smart triggers in that they don't trigger based on a condition (other than perhaps time for a timelapse), but rather adapt the cameras settings to suit the environment (e.g. exposure ramping for a timelapse). An example of this is the Arsenal AI (Gen 1 / Gen 2) or the TimeLapse +
Summary of Triggers
I have a summary of the various camera triggers I am aware of below, I have left out those that are not smart (e.g. just intervalometers) but if you think I have missed one please let me know and I will add it to the list.
|Pluto Trigger||Smart Trigger||Those who are after a full featured smart trigger that can trigger on changes to the thresholds set for a given mode (e.g., lightning, fireworks, light, sound, beam break).|
|MIOPS Remote||Smart Trigger||Those who are just getting started into the smart trigger area and don’t want to spend as much on a full featured trigger, note this requires the use of your mobile phone as a detector in many cases to then trigger the camera (i.e., when the phone detects motion in an area it will notify the Remote to trigger).|
|MIOPS Smart||Smart Trigger||Those who are after a full featured smart trigger that can trigger on changes to the thresholds set for a given mode (e.g., lightning, fireworks, light, sound, beam break).|
|MIOPS Flex||Hybrid Smart Trigger||Those who want a smart trigger but also want to be able to download and view the results, or also change the settings as conditions change. May be useful when the camera is not in close proximity to the user (i.e. camera is outside the car for lightning shots and you want to be safer in the car).|
|Arsenal AI||Smart Camera Assistant||Those who want to focus on taking the image rather than what are the appropriate settings for a given photo. Including helping with timelapses (including holy grail), exposure blending / HDR, focus stacking and more.|
|Arsenal AI 2||Smart Camera Assistant||Those who want to focus on taking the image rather than what are the appropriate settings for a given photo. Including helping with timelapses (including holy grail), exposure blending / HDR, focus stacking and more. Note this has not yet been released but is also designed to bring out the best colors in your images using Deep Color (neutral network).|
|Timelapse +View Intervalometer||Smart Camera Assistant||Those who want to easily take timelapse images including including Holy-Grail timelapses (going from day-to-night, or night-to-day).|
|Unleashed ‘22||Smart Camera Assistant||Those who want a small device that can help them trigger the camera to take photos, change the settings, or do things like timelapses including Holy-Grail timelapses (going from day-to-night, or night-to-day).|
|QDSLR Dashboard||Smart Camera Assistant||A full featured app which allows you to shoot with your compatible camera through the app on a mobile device (e.g., a tablet). This is most suited for things like Holy-Grail timelapses (going from day-to-night, or night-to-day).|
The Best Devices
This is one of those loaded questions where in reality if someone is doing the right thing they should not give you an answer since it really depends on your needs. Smart triggers are great for triggering the camera with fixed settings (for things like lightning or fireworks shots) or things like beam breaks. Hybrid devices are more featured and let you change the camera settings which is great for those people who need to change the camera settings and/or see the results as the image is taken. Finally Smart Camera Assistants are more about setting the appropriate camera settings for a given condition (i.e. the shutter and aperture for timelapse with the timelapse +View intervalometer).
If you are looking at getting into smart triggers, then there are really three options which are the MIOPS Remote (an entry level kit), or the MIOPS Smart or Pluto Trigger which are both fuller featured devices. If you are looking for a hybrid smart trigger then something like the MIOPS Flex is the main device at the moment. Finally with respect to Smart Camera Assistants it depends on what you are looking for, if you are looking for a smart assistant to help with timelapses then the Arsenal, Timelapse +View Intervalometer, Unleashed '22 or the QDSLR Dashboard all appear to have support for exposure ramping (to assist with holy grail timelapses), whilst if you are after something to help you pick the optimal camera settings for a given condition then something more like the Arsenal would be a better fit.
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