What a wonderful, technologically advanced world we live in. The proof is everywhere, but we will be looking at the photographic market.
Not only are cameras becoming faster, quieter and smaller. All of the accessories for our camera systems are quickly joining the cutting-edge trend.
Enter the MIOPS Smart Trigger. This pocket-sized device is a smart trigger for your camera, whether DSLR or mirrorless. It works independently, or via a free app.
The MIOPS Smart Trigger purpose is simple. To help you capture high-speed photography sessions using a range of different triggers.
I was very excited to get my hands on the MIOPS Smart Trigger for the lightning mode. This device promises me that it will capture stunning lightning images.
We got the MIOPS Smart Trigger in the post, and couldn’t wait to use it. Only one problem. No. Lightning. We even postponed the review, hoping for the best.
Nothing came, so look forward to an update when there’s finally some lightning. Hopefully, I remember to charge the thing before that happens.
What Is MIOPS?
“MIOPS is a photography equipment manufacturer specializing in camera triggers and camera remotes.
The company develops innovative solutions by putting continuous R&D effort into both hardware and software projects.”
It all started when their first Kickstarter project was launched in 2014, where the project was successfully funded by 1,773 backers.
This is a ‘smart trigger’. It allows the photographer to shoot high-speed photographic subjects and scenarios.
Without this little machine, it is almost impossible to photograph a balloon popping, smashing a glass or water drops.
You can still do it, don’t get us wrong. But it’s time-consuming, involves lots of research, organisation, and the subsquent practice and trial-and-error. MIOPS smart trigger cuts all of that out.
The different triggers that are available are as follows:
- Lightning: this triggers the shutter from light.
- Sound: this triggers the shutter from a sound.
- Timelapse: take pictures with a certain interval between each other until you reach a certain number of pictures.
- Laser: this triggers your camera or flash unit whenever the laser beam is broken.
- HDR: take the same picture with different exposures, combining them later with image processing software to get a final image.
- DIY: enables you to connect external sensors to your MIOPS Smart.
- Scenario: store up to three of the aforementioned scenarios to the Miops Smart to be used any time.
NOTE: MIOPS smart trigger sits nicely in your camera’s hot-shoe. It can be fitted to a cold-shoe off camera for when you need to separate the camera and the flash/MIOPS.
It can even just sit on a desk or platform independent of the hot/cold shoes. I did find that other accessories such as the MOVO Twin mic mount won’t work with this.
The MIOPS smart trigger doesn’t allow you to change the connector’s depth. Saying that, it does have a screw mount, so a GoPro hot-shoe connector will be needed to join these two together.
This rugged device is powered by a 3.7 volt/1020 mAh lithium ion battery. It is rechargeable via the provided USB cable.
You can even power it with the USB cable, not needing the battery at all.
Also, there is no paper manual that comes alongside your smart trigger. You can find it here.
This camera trigger is best used for capturing lightning, fireworks or any kind of sparks. It saves a lot of trial-and-error picture taking in a possibly cold and wet scenario.
You don’t even need to set your camera for a long exposure, as this will capture it in a flash (excuse me).
Just point towards the light source and off you go. The sensitivity is some that need consideration, and the MIOPS smart trigger gives you points between 1-99.
1 is the least sensitive, and will give you only big bolts, and 99 is the most sensitive, capturing even the smallest flashes of lightning.
The higher the sensitivity, the higher the chances other sounds will release the shutter.
This is something I wanted to try, even though I didn’t see how it can capture something so fast. MIOPS assures us that even lightning sticks around for 200~300 ms, which is ample time.
I tried to think of other things that could set off the camera trigger using light that might be interesting, but apart from a match, lighter, sparkler, I was out of ideas. This will come later.
MIOPS Smart Trigger is great for sounds. Popping balloons and breaking glass are the greatest ideas I could come up with, and I even looked at OK GO videos for inspiration.
Due to the nature of our studio, we couldn’t try glass breaking or water of any kind. Our studio is small with a lot of electrical gear around.
Powder of any kind was also out, as that gets everywhere and it can be highly flammable, so we chose safety and cleanliness over content.
I was very interested in this trigger too, as it brought up conversations with an old classmate from when I was studying photography.
He had just learned how to make a DIY sound sensor for a breaking glass project. Like many ideas we had, we didn’t have the time or the inclination in the end.
Here, you need to set your camera to ‘Bulb’ setting and conduct your experiments in a pitch-black room, using a flash or strobe, on or off camera.
The time-lapse camera trigger is great for those who don’t have an Intervalometer, didn’t hack their camera system to install Magic Lantern or have the patience to do it all manually.
This is how you capture many images of a scenario and then place them in a sequence to create an interesting video.
The movement of a city or the start-to-finish view of a DIY project will benefit from a time-lapse the most.
The time lapse mode has three parameters. The first one is the interval. This is the duration between each triggering.
You can set it anywhere between 1 second and 1 hour with 1-second increments.
The second parameter is the exposure. Again, you can set the exposure anywhere between 1 sec and 1 hour with 1-second increments.
The third parameter is the limit. This you can set to any number so that the timelapse will stop when it reaches that number. The maximum is 9999, so don’t waste them!
NOTE: This feature will only work in ‘Bulb’ mode, as this is how it overrides your camera’s limitations.
This is one of the best features, as your camera’s shutter will be released when the laser beam is broken.
This is perfect for dropping objects into water or liquid. You get to keep your hands out of the image and perfect that splash shot.
For this, you will need a separate laser [not included] that will connect to the sensor at the front of the gadget.
Once everything is set-up, you can then add a delay to the shutter’s release. This will depend on the speed of the falling object, and the height at which it breaks the laser and hits your desired liquid.
This is a perfect way to capture strawberries dropping into cream, skateboarders doing tricks or throwing water into a friends face.
WARNING: Please take every possible safety measure while you are working with lasers. Wear safety goggles at all times.
Never point the laser toward your eyes, other people or animals. Don’t shine it towards your lens or camera, as to do so will fry your DSLR’s sensor.
The HDR (High-Dynamic Range) is similar to the timelapse, in the way that the device will take multiple images for post-processing.
These images capture the highlights and shadows of your image at different exposure values. This ensures details can be seen in these areas, creating a perfect overall scene.
Our eyes have the capacity to see scenes in 20 stops of light. Cameras can reach 14, so there is some discrepancy that HDR images help to minimise.
You start off by taking a base or ‘center’ image. This is an evaluative exposure looking at the shadows and highlights of the image.
Then, MIOPS will take either 2/4/6 other images, changing the EV (exposure value) as it goes. 1/2/3 will be purposely underexposed, and 1/2/3 will be overexposed.
The idea is, that when these images are stitched together to for one image, the darker and light areas are balanced out.
NOTE: Your camera must be in BULB mode to take HDR pictures. Otherwise, all of the pictures will have the same exposure.
Also, if the images happen to reach the limitations of your camera, each exposure might not full fill the set exposure value.
This area is for experts only. This is the one area of camera triggers that aren’t a common functionality to other cameras.
The smart trigger has a 3.5mm stereo port for plugging in a multitude of external sensors.
Possibilities for other triggers are almost endless. Sensors that can measure the changes in temperature, pressure, humidity, or motion can all trigger the camera’s shutter.
The scenario mode is for stringing together a maximum of any three of the other smart triggers. You get to call all of the shots here.
This sounds like a great feature, but I don’t quite get the result of linking, let’s say, HDR, then activating the sound mode, and finally the time-lapse scenario.
They would all require different amounts of organising, planning and equipment.
We had enough trouble trying to get the sound area to work on its own, let along working between two other triggers.
MIOPS Smart Trigger Experiments
Sound – Balloons
As lightning was not an option for our experiments, the natural option was to go for the sound. HDR and time-lapses are possible to complete without the smart trigger, and the laser scenario needs a laser pointer.
With the sound scenario, I can use the studio, my Speedlite and can practise to my heart’s content. I didn’t expect to it actually be a necessity.
With anything photographic, it takes time and practice to take in a new device and understand how it works. I had seen and read other reviews beforehand, but I didn’t actually look at the manual until a few balloons in.
It wasn’t going well. I was using the continuous lighting in the studio when I should have used the flash unit. Bulb mode is something else I should have used in a pitch black setting.
And now I was getting somewhere. Then I quickly realised I needed three hands. One to hold the balloon, one to hold my expensive popping device (scissors) and the other to press the shutter.
The camera I was using was the Canon 7D, so the ‘bulb’ function had to be pressed for it to work. The intervalometer had to go into the camera in the same port the MIOPS Smart Trigger was plugged into.
That came out, and I placed the flash and MIOPS Smart Trigger closer to the action, connected with the supplied flash cable.
This became very finicky to start with. The sensitivity was set too high, so every noise I made set off the flash. Blinded in a dark room meant more noise as I crashed around trying to yank cables out to stop it.
Sometimes, I would have to restart the shot as a noise had tripped the flash, already exposing the scene. If I had continued, you would have a very overexposed image and possibly a double exposure.
7 Seconds – f/14 – ISO 100
More MIOPS Smart Trigger research online pointed me towards using a smaller, lower power on the flash. I had started on 1/1, and I switched it to 1/64. I had read that it helps to sync better for high-speed photography.
After trying a few times (24 balloons) we saw that even though the lag was very small, it was enough to ensure us not capturing the shot.
I even spoke to the Co-founder Onur on the MIOPS website via chat. He suggested that we should try a 2″ exposure instead. The following image is the result.
2 Seconds – f/10 – ISO 10
Sound – Party Poppers
We tried using party poppers as they were slower and more interesting than the balloons.
2 Seconds – f/3.5 – ISO 100
I moved the flash for a more dramatic lighting setup but had to hold it as I needed to use both hands to hold, pop and press the shutter in a small space of time.
Here, I felt we were finally getting somewhere but didn’t have the time or materials to keep practising.
1/4000 – f/2.8 – ISO 6400
MIOPS Smart Trigger is a rugged little device that is easy to setup and use. It can be coupled to the camera or instead, joining the flash for the high-speed triggers.
The free app, downloadable straight to your phone, makes it even easier to use.
This is definitely more suitable for intermediate to advanced photographers. Beginners will feel confused and frustrated without prior knowledge on flashes and the use of the ‘bulb’ setting.
We found the sound trigger to be finicky to find the correct balance due to lag. We tried many different ways, always with the same just-a-little-too-late result.
Shooting in absolute darkness with a flash unit isn’t ideal, and it means it is really only good for indoor use. Trying to release the shutter, hold the objects and make them interact was time-consuming and frustrating.
The HDR and time-lapse triggers are possible to complete in-camera and during post-processing without this device.
Yet, I do like the fact that the HDR area shoots 7 images, whereas my camera will only give me three when set on automatic.
MIOPS Smart Trigger is a fun tool that got me back in the studio, digging out bits of my equipment I hadn’t used in a while. It got my brain thinking for interesting concepts to photograph and try. Now I have started, I won’t be able to stop.
I wish I had longer to work with this little box, as I feel the potential is there and it can have its uses in product photography.
Also, having a studio that is completely waterproof with many people to test my water balloon theory would be great.
If you have a spare $239, go and get a MIOPS Smart Trigger. You might find it gives your brain a boost of inspiration.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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