Introduction

From left, the Alpine Labs Spark and the Miops Cell Dongle.

Finger. Shutter button. Click on. Subsequent.

That sequence is so ingrained in our concept of “taking a photograph” that it’s pure muscle reminiscence. Many conditions name for extra than simply the press of a finger to seize a shot, although, which is the place distant triggers are available.

Loads of us have a distant launch cable buried in our digital camera baggage that prompts the shutter from a foot or two away. However what about if you wish to set off an evening sky shot within the bitter chilly from throughout the comfy confines of a sleeping bag? Or hours of time-lapse lengthy exposures? What about mechanically tripping the shutter when one thing strikes in entrance of the digital camera?

These are precisely the wants that app-based triggers are designed to fulfill. And whereas there are conventional accent triggers that’ll individually accomplish one of many above duties, none do all of it.

Key options of app-based distant releases

  • Remotely set off a digital camera’s shutter
  • Automate time-lapse seize sequences
  • HDR seize that’s extra versatile than some cameras’ built-in modes
  • Activate the digital camera shutter utilizing exterior stimuli reminiscent of sound or motion (Miops solely)
A photograph shot utilizing the Miops Cell Dongle’s sound set off perform.

Gadgets to allow distant seize aren’t new, however the reputation of smartphones has shifted consideration to app-based options. With a small activation gadget or cable linked to the digital camera, software program on the telephone can deal with the small print—and be simply up to date for fixes or new options. I checked out two current merchandise that join your digital camera and smartphone, the Alpine Labs Spark and the Miops Cell Dongle.


The Alpine Labs Spark can sit within the digital camera’s sizzling shoe.

The Alpine Labs Spark ($74) is a triple-purpose distant set off. The unit itself sits on prime of your digital camera within the hot-shoe and connects by way of USB – that you must be sure to have the appropriate cable in your digital camera mannequin – with a single button on prime that may activate the shutter when pressed. Or, for appropriate cameras with infrared ports, the Spark by itself can set off a shot wirelessly.

Issues get extra attention-grabbing with the third connection methodology, paired with a smartphone working the Spark app by way of Bluetooth wi-fi networking. When each gadgets are inside vary (as much as 100 toes), the app can set off the shutter remotely, or you’ll be able to set a timed or guide lengthy publicity seize. The Spark features a battery that Alpine Labs says is sweet for greater than 2,000 hours.

The set off choices within the Spark app. Setting an extended publicity within the Spark app.

You even have management over creating time lapse photographs, setting an interval and whole period of the shoot, reminiscent of one body each 30 seconds over the course of an hour. Or, you’ll be able to seize a sequence of HDR brackets with the choice of selecting the variety of photographs and the publicity adjustment between every shot. There’s even a Photograph Sales space mode that dictates what number of photographs to seize and the delay between every shot.

Instructions are despatched and saved within the battery-powered Spark, so for lengthy exposures or time lapse sequences, the app doesn’t want to remain engaged and drain your telephone’s battery.

With the Spark linked to my Fujifilm X-T1, I couldn’t get the Time Lapse mode to work in any respect

Though the Bluetooth connection guarantees extra attention-grabbing makes use of, “attention-grabbing” can go in just a few totally different instructions, and never at all times ahead. With the Spark linked to my Fujifilm X-T1, I couldn’t get the Time Lapse mode to work in any respect; much more annoying is a bug that repeatedly pops up a dialog exclaiming that the time lapse is completed. Equally, the HDR mode was spotty throughout my time with the unit; generally it labored, generally it did not.

The Spark gives publicity changes in full stops, not partial ones, and for no matter motive, after I’m capturing three photographs with one-stop distinction between them, I find yourself with three an identical one-second exposures. It additionally assumes you’re solely capturing in darkish circumstances, as a result of the quickest shutter velocity it gives is 1/10 (the digital camera must be in bulb mode).

In the end, the Spark reveals promise, however Alpine Labs must work by some software program points.

What we like:

  • Compact and simple to pack
  • Gadget sits in digital camera’s hotshoe
  • Digicam could be triggered by way of USB, infrared or Bluetooth (utilizing a wise gadget and the Spark app)

What we do not:

  • General, unreliable
  • Buggy cell app
  • Solely full cease publicity changes provided


Miops Cell Dongle
$37 | Miops.com

Not like the Spark, the Miops Cell Dongle ($37) is actually only a cable that connects your digital camera to a smartphone. The cable has two sections: one attaches to your digital camera’s USB port (that you must specify your digital camera mode when ordering), and the opposite hooked up to the headphone port in your cell phone. If you happen to personal a current iPhone or Android telephone that doesn’t provide a devoted headphone port, you need to use the adapter that got here along with your telephone – sure, which means a dongle for the dongle (see picture beneath).

The Miops Cell Dongle is a pair of cables (assisted by the Lightning port adapter that got here with the iPhone X), which communicates utilizing the Miops app.

With the connection made, the Miops Cell app presents 15 alternative ways to set off the digital camera’s shutter. There are the standard strategies, like Cable Launch, Self Timer, and Primary Timelapse, however these are simply fundamentals. With the Miops app, the telephone performs a way more interactive function.

A number of the choices within the Miops app.

For instance, you’ll be able to journey the digital camera shutter when the telephone’s microphone registers a sound above a selected quantity degree, or when the telephone’s built-in digital camera registers motion. Or make the most of the telephone’s accelerometer and seize a shot when it detects vibration. The Highway Lapse function makes use of the telephone’s GPS to file a shot each X variety of meters or toes as you journey, as much as a selected variety of frames.

A number of the options automate different duties to make issues straightforward for you, reminiscent of HDR Timelapse, which captures brackets at set intervals, or Bulb Ramping Timelapse, which helps you to set an preliminary publicity and a remaining publicity so the photographs stay evenly uncovered at the same time as mild ranges drop or rise (throughout sundown or dawn, as an illustration).

Working a Bulb Ramping Timelapse within the Miops Cell app. The Miops Cell app makes use of the telephone’s microphone to set off the shutter by sound.
Whacking the underside of the desk offered the sound wanted to set off the shutter utilizing the Miops dongle. This is the setup for capturing a shot primarily based on sound.

A ‘Situation’ function lets you mix modes like a recipe, reminiscent of firing an HDR as soon as a sound degree is reached. As a bonus, there’s additionally a Impartial Density Calculator to determine ultimate shutter speeds when utilizing ND filters, and a Photo voltaic Calculator that lists dawn and sundown instances.

The draw back to the Miops Cell Dongle is that the telephone must be bodily linked
to the digital camera

The draw back to the Miops Cell Dongle is that the telephone must be linked by the cable to the digital camera. So, even when the digital camera is about up on a tripod, you’re nonetheless juggling the telephone. I solved that by buying an affordable mini ball head mount that matches into the digital camera’s sizzling shoe, after which screwing a Studio Neat Glif onto it to carry the telephone in place.

Even with out a wi-fi connection, although, the Miops software program gives loads of remote-triggering choices at an inexpensive value.

A pattern time-lapse video shot utilizing the Miops Cell Dongle and a Fujfilm X-T1.

What we like:

  • Compact and simple to pack
  • The Miops app’s many triggering strategies, together with sound and movement
  • Reliability
  • Affordability

What we do not:

  • The dongle’s bodily connection requires juggling a telephone
  • Some trendy telephones that lack headphone ports require that you simply add a dongle to the dongle

Miops additionally sells the $125 Cell Distant, which is a wi-fi gadget akin to the Spark, and the $219 Miops Good, with further triggering modes like a laser sensor.

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