What is a Camera Trigger? A Simple Guide for Beginners
Most beginner photographers find high-speed photography intimidating not just because they consider it as a higher level skill but they also think that they need bulky and more expensive equipment to achieve the best quality shots.
Indeed, taking pictures of high-speed events such as exploding items, breaking glasses, or moments like a bird’s flight, a bullet’s path or even a runner’s dash can be amazing (see 10 Things You Can Do with a Camera Trigger). Perhaps, as someone who is new to the hobby and who wants to try their luck in capturing these awesome shots, you may have a lot of questions.
First of all, with your current gear, is it possible to press the shutter button fast enough before these quarter-second events are over? And are there special tricks that you need to master in order to freeze the most spectacular frames like a burst of lightning wounding the night sky, a bullet making its way through an apple, or a hummingbird flapping its wings? Most importantly, what additional equipment do you need, to transform your camera into a great high-speed shooter – or do you actually need to replace everything you have and buy a more powerful camera?
These questions that usually bother most beginner shutterbugs can be answered by looking at this amazing device: the camera trigger device.
What is a camera trigger?
Most professional and seasoned photographers know that a camera trigger should always be in their camera bag wherever they go. Why?
A camera trigger is a great device that enables you to automatically activate the trigger of your camera not only on programmed scenarios but also on events that need both speed and accuracy.
To guide you, here is a simple list of everything you should know about camera triggers and its possible applications.
1. Camera triggers can detect both sound and light.
Every ideal camera trigger has sensitive sensors that can easily detect light and sound. In fact, this feature enables users to perfect their high-speed photography shots without worrying about finding the perfect timing. The device will do all the work for you and all you need to do is to prepare the right setup.
For example, capturing common high-speed scenarios that easily make a loud bang like popping balloons is a perfect opportunity for a camera trigger to showcase what it can do. What happens is, the device can accurately detect the noise of the balloon’s popping sound faster the blink of an eye.
Similar situations like these require an extreme ability to respond to the moving object, and naturally, the human reflexes will never be able to keep up and easily capture this high-speed event. In other words, no matter how expensive your regular camera is, these shots are not possible without a camera trigger.
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2. A camera trigger can both trigger the camera and the flash.
This important feature lets users enjoy high-speed photography even without using a high-speed camera. It means that as long as your gear is compatible with the available camera triggers in the market, you can be successful at this level of photography. How?
Regular cameras usually have shutter lag that makes capturing high-speed photos impossible, but relying on a simple yet effective trick can change all that.
First, you need to secure a camera trigger with flash trigger capability. Secondly, you must be in a dark environment to fully take advantage of the flash. Make sure that your camera is set in the Bulb mode and your shutter should be kept open. Now, you’re ready.
To capture the high-speed subject, you must trigger the flash and let your camera do the rest. This method can help you freeze cool moments that cannot be easily perceived by the naked eye like dancing water droplets and water splashes.
Related Article: Triggering Multiple Flashes with Slave Mode
3. Camera triggers can be used for time-lapse videos.
Aside from high-speed photography, you can rely on a camera trigger to help you capture a mesmerizing time-lapse video.
Basically, a time-lapse video is composed of pictures that are taken in sequence (sometimes over a millisecond interval) that are brought together in one continuous frame. Capturing a time-lapse video takes two steps: capturing still images of the scenario and finally transforming them into one single video.
Although seasoned photographers have found more convenient ways like using computer software to bring all these time-lapse photos together to create the final output, all these are not possible without successfully taking the pictures first – and it’s actually harder than it sounds. This is where the advantage of using a camera trigger comes in.
An ideal camera trigger offers features that enable users to automatically take time lapse pictures depending on their preferred settings. In other words, users have the freedom to adjust the timing and the duration depending on the scenario that they want to capture.
One thing that you have to remember is, shooting a time-lapse video is a time-consuming process. For this reason alone, choosing a camera trigger with a long battery life should be at the top of your priority especially if you want to focus on this type of photography (see ff.
More importantly, to successfully achieve your time-lapse photography goals, you have to choose a camera trigger that has the power to operate without solely relying on secondary devices like a smartphone. In other words, it should have the ability to act as a standalone device.
Related Article: How to Start with Time Lapse Photography?
Take impossible photos by turning your camera into a high-speed capture device!
4. Camera trigger is a go-to device for Lightning Photography.
If you like spending time outdoors and capturing all the wonders that nature has to offer, your portfolio will never be complete without having a lightning photos gallery. But how can you possibly do this especially if you don’t have a powerful high-speed camera?
Thanks to its ability to detect light and sound, the best camera trigger can capture the mesmerizing dance of a lightning. Yes, you read that right. Capturing this majestic event can be possible if you have this device handy.
There are millions of lightning photography enthusiasts around the world and you can’t blame them. Trying to freeze this often millisecond-long event can be both challenging and rewarding.
With a lightning camera trigger, your camera can easily adjust to fast fluctuations in light levels that are usually the case during a lightning. Basically, here’s what happens:
As soon as the lightning strikes, your camera will detect a burst of light source from the event (that usually lasts half or a quarter of a second). It means that you barely have time to click the capture button, so you need a reliable device to release the shutter for you – and this is a perfect job for a lightning trigger.
Aside from easily detecting the level of light in the environment, it automatically and accurately triggers your camera to capture the perfect moment of a lightning strike.
Most importantly, it’s obviously dangerous to be in an environment during a lightning storm. Since triggers are wireless and can be operated remotely, you can take cover while your camera does the work for you.
Related Article: How to Take the Extraordinary Lightning Photos
5. Camera triggers also make use of laser beams for detecting movement.
This camera trigger feature might sound straight out of a science fiction movie but it’s real and it’s here: the use of laser beam to detect even the tiniest and soundless movement.
While some camera triggers have detection methods that either rely on sudden changes on the level light source or on sound sensitive sensors, more advanced trigger devices for cameras have the ability to detect small and often quiet motion through a laser beam technology.
Such feature is useful, especially for water drop photography. Here’s how it works.
As soon as a drop of water falls into a base (usually a glass) and makes contact with the laser beam projected by the device, it will trigger your camera and make the perfect shot. However, achieving the ideal frame for water droplet photography depends on one trick: activating the camera trigger’s delay feature. Why? The truth is, it’s impossible to predict when the drop will finally hit the water, so perfecting the timing is crucial.
Camera triggers enable users to set the delay value of each shot, so you can estimate and control the ideal trigger time.
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