High-speed triggers: MIOPS Smart, Mobile & Dongle review

MIOPS triggers set off your camera using light, sound, motion or timers and even help you create timelapses and HDR photos. Are they any good?

Miops Smart Trigger

Before we even start, I suggest you make yourself a coffee. This isn’t going to be a two minute read.

As a commercial photographer, there have been occasions where I’ve utilised various techniques to create product images with a little more interest. A waterproof product will benefit when shown in a wet environment. A strawberry dropped into cream tends to look more interesting than a strawberry sat on a plate, for example. And if those images can be captured in a manner that is dramatic, the interest is increased further.

So, this was the reason for my initial interest in the Miops Smart Trigger, and my introduction to the Miops triggering family as a whole. This review includes Miops Smart, Miops Mobile and Miops Dongle.

Use this table of contents to jump directly to different sections of the review.

  1. Miops Smart Trigger
  2. Miops Mobile
  3. Miops Dongle

Miops Smart Trigger

My Miops triggers (Smart, Mobile and Dongle), arrived from the UK Distributor, UK Highland Photography. As my main interest was with the Smart trigger, that is where we will start. It was quickly unboxed. Hmmmm, not an awful lot in there.

The trigger, and a couple of (short) cables. Erm.. where’s the documents?

OK, a brief online search and the full PDF is available online for download at www.miops.com/support.

Being a PDF download, means I can add it to my phone if I feel I may need it, which is handy.

A quick scan through the manual, and it all seemed very straight forward. I must admit, I expected it to be a little more difficult than it first appeared, particularly as I’ve done a great deal of high speed photography in the past for clients, and I’m fully aware of the time and preparation involved with such shoots. So, with this in mind, I organised a number of shoots. The functions of particular interest to my team and I, is the laser, sound and HDR and I will cover these in some depth.

The app

The accompanying App is one of the Miops Smart features which is quite heavily touted, allowing the Miops Smart to be controlled remotely via a smartphone. The app is freely available from both Google Play and the Apple App Store. The only requirement for your smartphone is the fact it needs to be compatible with Bluetooth 4.0 to communicate with the Miops Smart, and the operating system should be either iOS 7.0 or higher, or Android 4.3 or higher.

For the purpose of this review, I used the Miops Smart without the app. This was to see how usable/easy it would be to obtain the imagery I was after, should the phone battery die. I found I managed perfectly well without the app. However, the app certainly makes life easier, and I would definitely recommend using it for the modes we have used when reviewing.

In Laser mode, starting or stopping the Miops Smart can easily nudge the trigger by a millimetre or so, which is enough to misalign the laser beam and therefore affect the accuracy of the trigger event. In sound mode, particularly the way I had it set up, it would have been far easier to have stopped the triggering by using the app, rather than fumbling with wet fingers on a rubber button. Whilst not using the app had no impact on the HDR function, using the app was actually quicker and easier due to the larger display and ease of adjustment.

Having used the Miops Smart manually a number of times in various circumstances, I would have to say the app is a nice addition and the way I would prefer to interact with the Miops Smart. That said, if my phone died whilst on a location shoot, it would have little or no impact on my use of the Miops Smart.

There are a few modes that are app only initiated. Scenario mode can be executed from the Miops Smart interface, although it requires the app to set it up. Cable Release, Press & Hold, Press & Release and Timed Release are all app only features.

Laser options screen
Laser options screen

Laser mode

The Miops Smart has a photocell on the front panel, which is utilised for a number of things, including the laser triggering function.

The available parameters are straightforward, and are pretty much self explanatory.

There are three parameters available:

  • Threshold – This is the sensitivity to the laser. If set too high, it can cause false triggering. Too low a setting can cause failure to trigger.
  • Delay – Allows you to delay the shutter release after the initial trigger event. Delays are specified in milliseconds (0-999)
  • Frames – How many images you want taken once the laser has been interrupted.

Once your preferences are set, a press of the start key and you’re good to go.

Strawberry

We decided our food photography signature image (shown above) could do with an overhaul. It features a strawberry creating a splash as it’s dropped into a spoon of cream.

Sounds simple, but the last time we did this, it took pretty much a full day, several punnets of strawberries, a couple of tubs of cream and three team members.

The original was shot “manually”, meaning it was shot at 11 frames a second, and there was a fair bit of cleaning up going on between attempts. The main drawbacks with the original attempt was the cost. Three team members for most of a day, more strawberries than can be found in a corner store, and pretty much the same with the cream too for that matter.

So what was the problem?

Basically, an inability to be accurate with the strawberry dropping, coupled with the timing of the shutter release. You may well think that shooting at 11 frames a second would pretty much increase my chances of nailing a good shoot in quite a short time frame. Well, not quite. There were too many variables involved. If the shot managed to coincide with the strawberry hitting the spoon, then invariably, the strawberry hit off centre, and believe me, it didn’t have to be far off centre for it to effect how a good a splash we captured. Most strawberries could only be used a couple of times before they were too damaged and needed replacing. The original image was actually a composite of several images to get the right strawberry position, along with a nice looking splash. I think it was a composition of four or five images in the end.

So, coming back to the Miops Smart. I have to say, I was a little apprehensive considering the time involved with the previous image, and I didn’t particularly relish the idea of giving up another day, and all associated costs, just to recreate a perfectly acceptable image. Anyway, needs must and all that.

I carefully read through the online manual, and eventually contacted UK Highland Photography to clarify if there was a dedicated laser unit for the Miops Smart. Apparently not. Any laser pointer will do. It just needs to be aimed at the photo cell on the front of the unit, and when the beam is broken, the shutter is fired. Simple!

Now, I already had a laser pointer I use when delivering talks regarding lighting, but it has a push button activation which can’t be locked “on”. A pointer that has the ability to be locked in the “on” position would be easier. None the less, we had a laser and I’m too tight to go out and buy another!

The laser was simply attached to a light stand with a clamp, which was tightened over the button to keep it activated. It was positioned about 35 feet from the sensor, as it needed to be quite far back to travel across the top of the spoon and hit the Miops Smart’s light sensor, which was immediately alongside the camera. The Miops Smart couldn’t be placed in the camera hotshoe, as the radio trigger needed to be there to fire the lights. Sounds simple, but we did faff about a bit positioning the laser pointer, mainly because the angle needed to cross the spoon almost straight on to the camera, but not to the point where the laser pointer may intrude in the frame.

All in all, it probably took an hour to set up, with a couple of dry runs to assess accuracy. It also highlighted an interesting issue. I say issue, but it was an operator issue, not an equipment issue. The laser triggering is so accurate, that should the strawberry fall ever so slightly off centre, then the laser would be interrupted slightly later, or possibly missed by the initial impact, but triggered on the bounce. At first, we thought we were getting issues from incorrect delay settings, but when they were adjusted, we then got more inconsistent results, and that’s when we realised it wasn’t the laser, or the Miops Smart. It was us.

We clamped a small stick over the spoon as a point of alignment, and holding the strawberry at the base of the stick increased the incidence of laser break to trigger the camera. Now that we were getting a much higher “hit” rate, we added the cream, which unveiled a new challenge. The strawberry didn’t have the mass to displace the cream as well as we would like.

Solution? Skewer the strawberry with a very fine screwdriver and hit the spoon filled with cream. We got the shot we were after first time, and removing the screwdriver in post was a two minute task.

It took an hour to set up, but once we worked through the challenges and had what I would describe as the best possible solution, it took just minutes to get the image, and I guarantee we can duplicate the whole thing from scratch in less than thirty minutes with one operator. The cost savings on this one shot would actually pay for the Miops Smart, especially when compared to the cost of the original shot.

The final image is below:

Strawberry

One thing that came to light is the fact that should you wish to suspend the laser mode, or even when starting the laser mode, pushing the start button on the Miops Smart may cause sufficient movement of the Miops Smart trigger to cause misalignment of the laser, and effect the triggering accuracy.

Once the alignment has been made, I would suggest using the dedicated mobile app to set or amend your settings and initiate the laser mode, as this leaves the trigger untouched and less likely to cause alignment/triggering issues.

Sound mode

The sound function allows triggering of either the flash or the camera, or both. For the waterwig images, I chose to use the Miops Smart to trigger the camera, as opposed to firing the flash, although I am aware I was introducing a small delay (around 300 milliseconds) into the equation. That’s fine for what I had in mind. If, on the other hand it was something like a lighbulb being shattered, then I may have chosen to go down the route of having the camera in bulb mode (no pun intended!) in a dark environment, and triggering the flash, which is the method outlined in the Miops Smart manual.

This was extremely easy to set up. Simply point the Miops Smart at the sound source and adjust the parameters.

There are three parameters available:

  • Sensitivity – This is the sensitivity to the sound. Setting too high can cause false triggering. Too low can cause failure to trigger. Having the trigger further away from the source introduces a delay (3 milliseconds per meter) and will need to be compensated for with higher sensitivity.
  • Delay – Allows you to delay the shutter release or flash after the initial trigger event. Delays are specified in milliseconds (0-999)
  • Lock – If set, the Miops Smart will trigger once. Particularly useful if using a dark environment and firing the flash mentioned above. In this case, multiple firing can ruin a high speed image.

Martin

I’d just like to say, this was possibly the most fun I have had in a very, very long time. To torture one’s colleagues, assistants and friends in the name of research, I’d buy the Miops Smart just for this!

The guy in the above image is just some dude we found on the day. Ok, I lied. It’s Martin “the beard” Wilson, a photographer friend I conned into sitting in a children’s paddling pool in the pursuit of research.

The method I employed to obtain these images is not the same as that outlined within the Miops Smart manual. Miops suggests using a dark room and having the camera make a longish exposure, say a couple of seconds. The sound event then triggers the flash, rather than the camera, and the short duration of the flash “freezes” the motion. With the Miops suggested method, it’s important the Lock parameter is used, so as the flash is fired once only. Otherwise, you will obtain an image with multiple exposures and the water motion will be blurred.

The Miops suggested method works extremely well, as proven by countless others. For some of my client shoots, this would be the route I would also take. However, for the purpose of this review, and also to allow me to humiliate my victims further, I wanted to be able to capture a full sequence of images. This meant the Miops Smart was used to fire the camera, rather than the flash. We chose to use the Nikon D4, as it has a frame capture rate of 11fps. Whilst the Miops Smart sends a single fire signal per trigger event, in this mode it’s per sound, the popping of the balloon and subsequent spatter of water causes the Miops Smart to pretty much continually fire. The hardest part was stopping the sequence once done, as the dripping water and gasps from the subject would potentiate the firing.

An advantage to using the camera firing method as opposed to the flash firing method is the fact the images can be captured in a fully lit studio. This means we could see exactly what was happening at the point of capture, allowing me to revel in the discomfort of others.

Shopping List:
  • 1 × Children’s paddling pool (large!) with walls of a decent height.
  • 1 × pump to inflate said pool without hospitalising the assistant.
  • Water balloons (twice as many as you initially think you need!)

The paddling pool was inflated and placed centrally in the largest studio, along with a suitable seat in the middle. The camera was placed on a tripod as close as possible to one end of the pool, and a set of step ladders was placed alongside.

Two rim lights were set up at the far corners of the pool, and set to fire through gridded 40cm beauty dishes. The left light was gel’d blue, and the right light was gel’d straw and cerise (making a kinda red, because I seem to have mislaid my red gel for some reason). Both were around five feet high and angled down towards the heads of the victims.

The backdrop light was placed on a floor stand at about two feet off the ground. It was firing through a standard reflector with a grid fitted.

The main light was above the camera and angled down towards our model. It was firing through a gridded 70cm beauty dish.

The lights are fired by a transmitter on the camera, not the Miops Smart. The Miops Smart was fitted to a plastic cold shoe, which was mounted on a clamp. The clamp was affixed to a reflector holder arm so the Miops could be placed fairly near the subject. I set the sound level fairly high and a delay of 0.

I had a fairly thin Alice Hair Band which was duly modified to take a tack on top, and this was worn to aid the bursting of the balloon.

I did find that occasionally the Miops Smart would trigger prematurely as the balloon left the hand. This was caused by the rubber “snap”, and was easily rectified by holding the balloon in the palm of the hand and allowing it to roll off, rather than suspending it by the knot and letting go.

It took several attempts to get what I would term the perfect “pop”, but it was an awful lot of fun, and I wouldn’t mind doing it again.

Having more air within the balloon created a louder pop, but sometimes having no air in at all didn’t make a difference. We also tried without the Alice Band, resting the balloon on their head and then popping it. The item used to pop the balloon was easily taken out in post if visible.

I wouldn’t attempt this without the Miops Smart, as the chances of obtaining a usable image would actually be down to luck.

Very, very easy to set up, but it does take perseverance and patience (and very understanding friends!) to get the image you really want.

Addendum

Water has an amazing ability to travel further than anticipated. Plastic sheeting around the pool is a good idea. As is wearing clothing that is suitable for getting wet, and also having a change of clothes available.

Note to self : A suit does not comply with above!

Incidentally, remember I mentioned I wanted to capture the full sequence of images? The following is a by-product, allowing us all to revel in their discomfort. Again and again!

As mentioned above, these images were all taken using the Miops Smart to fire the camera, rather than the lights. For client shoots, and to get absolutely crisp images, I tend to use the dark room approach mentioned in the manual, and use the Miops Smart to fire the flash, rather than the camera.

Watch

This is an example using the dark room technique and the following image shows just how fast the Miops Smart reacts if you don’t dial in any delay. Yep, that’s a balloon mid burst!

Watch 2

Lightning mode

The Miops Smart allows you to capture images of lightning or fireworks etc, by triggering the camera when there is a sudden change in the level of light.

The camera is best manually focused, the aperture set and the appropriate shutter speed for the correct exposure to be determined .

There is just one parameter available:

  • Sensitivity – This is the sensitivity of the photocell required to trigger the camera.

The sensitivity will allow you to choose whether you capture the largest lightning bolts only, or whether you might want to capture even the smallest of lightning bolts. A high sensitivity value will trigger the camera for the smaller bolts, but you will also be susceptible to false triggering. A lower value will restrict your captures to the brighter, larger bolts of lightning.

Now, because we live in the UK, we don’t have that many thunderstorms, apart from the day the trigger arrived and was left at the studio, and I was woken in the early hours by a thunderstorm.

I didn’t get to try this feature in time for the review, but the setting is a doddle and I don’t foresee any problems.

I did play in the studio, initiating a trigger event by firing a strobe. It worked fine, but it’s not a real world test.

HDR mode

The Miops Smart allows you to setup, and then shoot a series of bracketed images. Whilst my own cameras have this ability, I realise some cameras do not, or to a limited extent and therefore the Miops Smart allows bracketing on any supported camera.

When I say HDR images, I don’t mean those frightfully electric, highly halo’d, strange and other worldly type images that have become the signature HDR image everyone thinks about as soon as the term HDR is mentioned. No. I mean images that have a great deal more detail in both the shadows and highlights than can normally be captured within a single frame from a camera. Much nearer to what we are able to see naturally. Of course, how the images are post processed and blended is a matter of personal choice.

The camera is required to be manually focused, the aperture set and the appropriate shutter speed for the correct exposure to be determined and set within the Miops Smart menu. The camera’s shutter speed is set to Bulb as the exposure adjustments and firing is managed by the Miops Smart.

There are three parameters available:

  • Center – This is the shutter speed that would give a good standard exposure for the given aperture and ISO set within the camera. This is your base value.
  • EV(+-) – This is the Exposure Value step between each exposure.
  • Frame – The number of images to be taken. Usually an odd number, as you have the centre exposure and a balanced under and over exposed frames.

Because the camera is in bulb mode, the exposure is timed by the Miops Smart, and has a maximum achievable shutter speed of 1/125th sec. Therefore, the central exposure value for a seven frame bracket would be 1/15th sec. Don’t worry, it works it all out for you.

The Miops Smart’s HDR mode allows you to shoot a maximum of 7 different images, with a quarter to two stop variation between each image. These images are then imported into the HDR software of your choice.

HDR 1

HDR 2

To be honest, this is extremely easy to set up and manage. Although the one thing to remember is to shoot with the camera set to Bulb mode, otherwise you end up with all frames with the same exposure value. I find the correct exposure as indicated by the camera’s lightmeter, and that gives me the shutter speed I would select for the Miops Smart. The ISO and aperture values are set on the camera, and the shutter speed is set to bulb.

Once the camera is set, I then enter the required values into the Miops Smart, which includes my “metered” exposure value, which is entered in the “Center” parameter. I then choose the exposure value I want between each frame. I tend to use a value of 1, although the Miops Smart does offer more options than most cameras, as you can choose 1/4, 1/3, ½, 1 or 2 values. Finally, I chose the number of required frames, which tends to be five, as it was with the images shown here. And that’s it as far as the settings go. Pressing the start button initiates the sequence, and a timeline allows you to see the progress as the images are captured.

You are then left with your required number of images, and then it’s up to you as to how you process them, and with what software. The methods available for blending the images are varied, and the range of available software, whether stand alone or a plugin for the likes of Adobe Photoshop, is very comprehensive, and far beyond the remit of this review.

A free option would be to have a look at the Google Nik Collection, which became freely available early 2016 and includes HDR Efex Pro. Adobe Lightroom also has a HDR blending function.

Generally speaking, I tend to shoot either three or five frames, unless the scene is particularly challenging. I have to say, this particular mode is extremely easy to set up and very easy to operate. The results are exactly as I would expect. Basically, it does what it says on the tin.

Time-lapse mode

The Miops Smart allows you to setup, and then shoot a series of images at a set interval. These images are then usually compiled into a video using appropriate software.

The camera is required to be manually focused, the aperture set and the appropriate shutter speed for the correct exposure to be determined and set.

There are three parameters available:

  • Interval – This is the time between each exposure and can be set at intervals from 1 sec up to 1 hour. This setting is made at 1 second increments.
  • Exposure – This is the Exposure Value which can be anything between 1 sec and 1 hour. This value is utilised by the Miops if the camera is set to Bulb mode for the shutter release. If not, then the exposure value is whatever has been set on the camera.
  • Limit – The number of images to be taken. Anything from 1 frame, which is rather pointless for a timelapse, up to 9999.

I used Serif Movie Plus to compile the collected images into a video, which was painless, and the setup of the Miops Smart is extremely simple. Set the three parameters and start the process. I would suggest setting the focus and then switching to manual focus to stop any errant focal changes etc.

DIY mode

The DIY mode allows the Miops Smart to trigger a camera by methods such as temperature, vibration or anything else you can think of. The catch is in the name. This mode is aimed squarely at those who have the skills to create the sensor that will trigger the event with the Miops Smart, and therefore trigger the camera.

The jackplug requirements are outlined quite clearly in the manual, with the specs such as triggering voltage used, and which part of the jack is ground, trigger and Power. Whilst plainly aimed at those labelled as “expert”, I find myself starting to ponder the possibilities.

Scenario mode

The scenario mode is only executed by the Miops Smart. This mode is set using the app.

The scenario mode is the most powerful feature of the Miops Smart, as you can configure up to five different steps which can be any of the basic modes, and each step is fully configurable.

Due to time restrictions, I was unable to make use of this function, but I can certainly see a use within the studio where we could utilise laser and sound scenarios. I’ll certainly be setting a little time aside to have a bit of a play at some point.

Conclusion (Miops Smart)

At the point of opening the box, I was intrigued. A few of the functions caught my attention and since using the Miops Smart, it’s now a permanent addition to my bag. I certainly have no qualms about the unit rattling around my case. It’s solidly built and extremely well engineered

The basic modes are easy to setup, and I’ve already proven to myself it’s worth with the highspeed photography, which we have frequently done before. The difference with the Miops Smart is the fact we can replicate anything we’ve done with relative ease. More to the point, it’s far quicker to set up and far more accurate with the image capture. As I’ve previously said, recreating the strawberry splash basically paid for the Miops Smart, and then some.

The use of the app turned out to be equally easy, and improved the ease of use of the Miops Smart, if that makes sense. Using the app also increased the accuracy of the laser mode simply by reducing the chance of movement when initiating or stopping the trigger.

As a commercial photographer, the cost of the unit is recoverable with the first client shoot, purely from a time saving perspective. The range of cameras supported by the manufacturers is extensive and growing, with a full list available on their site (www.miops.com )

Miops Mobile

Miops Mobile

My initial interest in this unit had nothing at all to do with studio work, or even lighting for that matter. It basically utilises your mobile as a wireless, feature rich remote release. There is some overlap with the Miops Smart, such as the HDR mode and timelapse mode, but with a slightly different approach. The unit is small. Well, it’s actually tiny.

Miops Mobile

That’s a UK 5p piece, which is 18mm across, sat alongside the unit in its box. It’s basically just a receiver with a rechargeable battery, as all the intelligent bit is done by the phone app. Clever!

There are six categories, each with a number of modes. My original reason for purchase were some of the cable release modes and potentially the timelapse modes, although I’ve since found it extremely useful in the studio. I’ll go through each category and modes.

Miops Mobile
Miops Mobile

Cable release modes

Cable release

This is the most basic of the release modes. Touch the red graphic button on the app, and your camera fires off a shot. There are no settings, it’s simply a big graphic button and you touch it. This was the second mode I had ended up using in the studio, after utilising the sound mode mentioned later in this article.

As a commercial photographer, there are times when I am given a ton of products to shoot, and quite often in reality, there are maybe thirty or forty different products, with a dozen colour variations of each. I usually have all the grouped products together, and laboriously place a product, go to the camera and press the shutter, go back to the table, swap to the next colour variation and repeat. Following the success of the Red Cabbage shoot mentioned later, I simply stayed with the table, swapped the product and tapped the phone, then swapped the product and repeat.

Behind the scenes: product shoot

It may not sound like a big deal. After all, how long does it actually take to get up and walk to the camera and fire the shutter, and then walk back again? 30 seconds? From previous shoots for the same client, I know it normally takes around four to four and a half hours for the volume of products I had that day. I completed it in three hours. It was quoted on a project basis, rather than by the hour, which means increased profitability. Or, you can quote a little lower if you believe the client is shopping for quotes and you feel you need to be more competitive. Either way, this one shoot paid for the Miops Dongle, and more than that, it proved its worth in the studio environment. I’ve since used it regularly in similar situations at the studio.

Press and Hold

Old school cable release in the film days. Press the graphic button and the shutter stays open until you take your finger off it. The camera shutter is required to be set to bulb. There’s a timer that runs whilst the shutter is open, allowing you to see the length of the exposure. A nice touch.

Press and Lock

Similar to the previous “Press and Hold”, but this requires a touch of the button to start the exposure, and a second touch to stop it. The timer is available here too.

Timed Release

For timed long exposures. If you’ve been frustrated by the maximum exposure available with your camera, this is the mode for you. Set your exposure duration. Press the graphic button, and off you go. The time of the exposure can be set for a maximum of 99hrs, 99m and 99secs. And also down to 100th sec too. Far more flexible than any camera setting, and most remote releases.

Self Timer

Most cameras seem to have two options for their self timer. A short option at two or five seconds, and a longer option at ten or twelve seconds. The Miops Mobile has the same timing options as the times release, so you can actually set it to anything from a .01 of a sec, right through to a hundredth of a second shy of 100 hours. So, if you are one of those landscape photographers that likes to have a figure in the landscape for scale (Joe Lord, take note!) and it’s going to take a good twenty minutes to scale that rock in the middle of nowhere, then this is certainly for you.

Timed Release And Self Timer

This is a combination of the two functions, allowing you to set a timer, and then going on to make a long exposure. Once the timer has expired, the exposure is then made for the set amount of time.

Timelapse Modes

Basic Timelapse

Very simple timelapse mode. Set the time interval between frames and the number of frames to be shot, and off you go. If you do not set a maximum number of frames, the sequence will continue until you stop it.

Long Exposure Timelapse

This mode allows you to create a timelapse of long exposure images. In addition to the settings of frame interval and number of frames, there is a third option for the length of each exposure. The camera needs to be set to bulb mode for this.

Bulb Ramping Timelapse

This is an interesting option. It operates in a similar way to the Long Exposure mode, but it will change the exposure value throughout the timelapse sequence. You set the initial exposure and the final exposure, and each exposure is gradually increased between the two values.

Road Lapse Mode

This is one on it’s own, and quite an interesting use of your phone’s GPS function. You set the distance you wish to take images over, and also set the number of frames to shoot during that distance. Just the two settings.

HDR Modes

HDR

Similar to the HDR Mode with the Miops Smart Trigger. You set the centre exposure value, the EV value between exposures, and the number of frames to make up the bracketed sequence. The camera needs to be in bulb mode.

HDR Timelapse

Now, this is interesting. Same as basic timelapse, but each exposure is bracketed. Each frame will need processing to create the individual HDR frames that would then be used to create the final timelapse. Quite a bit of work in the post processing, but the final timelapse will be quite something to see. The volume of data recorded is going to be huge if you’re shooting seven frames per final image. Definitely requires a large memory card!

Sensor Modes

Sound

Uses the phone microphone to trigger your camera. It can be set to trigger continuously, or just a single frame, and the sensitivity can be set to reduce the chances of misfiring. There is a slight delay in triggering when compared to the Miops Smart. Whilst the Miops Smart has a built in microphone, and can trigger pretty much instantly, the Miops Mobile relies on the phone to recognise the event and then signal the camera to fire, which takes additional time. The delay is extremely small, but it’s noticeable when compared to the Miops Smart.

This is one of the modes I used in the studio.

Red Cabbage

I normally work with an assistant (or two), so having additional hands when doing something quite intricate isn’t normally a problem. However, I was working alone on some food imagery for a couple of clients, and found I couldn’t trigger the camera and pour water on the subject at the same time. Because I’m old, and my memory is a bit tripe, I actually went as far as trying to use the camera’s self timer a couple of times before I remembered the Miops Mobile sat in my case. In my defence, up until this point, I hadn’t considered the Miops Mobile for any of my studio work until this particular shoot.

I connected the Miops Mobile to my external release port on the camera, and allowed it to hang down, as the hotshoe was already occupied by the trigger for the studio flashes.

I poured the water onto the red cabbage and got the above image on the first attempt. And obtained equally good images on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 6th attempt. I missed the cabbage with the water on the fifth, and my sudden swearing triggered the shutter. Setting the shot up was a nothing thing, and even with the signal processing delay, I got my shot. If the delay was an issue for the type of shot I was after, I would have chosen to use the Miops Smart instead. As a “third hand” in this situation, it was ideal, and a lot cheaper than utilising an assistant for an hour or two.

Behind the scenes: red cabbage

Vibration

Similar set up procedure to the sound mode, and similar in operation. Any movement or vibration detected by your phone will initiate a shutter release. A single frame or continuous shooting, depending on the configuration you have set.

Motion

This mode makes use of the camera on your phone. I suspect it awaits a change in contrast, signalling movement within the frame, before initiating a shutter release. You can adjust the sensitivity, delay and the number of frames to be shot.

Scenario Mode

The scenario mode allows you to combine specific steps and modes, including delay between modes, to create a custom sequence of events. As an example, you may use a standard timelapse for six hours, and then use the bulb ramping timellaps during sunset, before finally switching to a HDR timelapse sequence. Certainly food for thought.
You can add up to five modes plus the delay parameter.

Miops Dongle

The Miops Dongle is an adaptor between your mobile phone and your camera release cable. It utilises the same App as the Miops Mobile, so all the above mentioned points regarding the Miops Mobile app, is relevant here too. At first thought, you may ask why? For me, it’s backup. If my Miops Mobile runs out of steam due to the battery going flat, then the Dongle will save the day. Alternatively, if I need to run two cameras on a shoot, I can use the app on a tablet with the Miops Dongle, and use the Miops Mobile with my phone.

Talking about the battery going flat, and this applies to both the Miops Smart and the Miops Mobile, you can run them both from one of those Li-ion battery packs that we all use to recharge our phones when out and about. The battery charging ports on both triggers are connected via USB, so one of those battery packs with a USB output is ideal. If you are considering ultra long timelapses, then you understand the issue with battery drainage over long periods, and this should be a welcome option for you.

Conclusion (Miops Mobile and Miops Dongle)

The Dongle is a very cheap way to make use of such a comprehensive and useful triggering app. The Miops Mobile simply increases the usability and usefulness as a whole. As a professional, I tend to value equipment based on a couple of factors, which is the income it can bring in, or the time it can save. Both factors have an impact on the profitability of the business. It’s quite rare that a piece of equipment can recoup its value during the first shoot, yet each Miops trigger managed to do just that, and a lot more since.

The Miops Mobile app is very straightforward to use, and quite intuitive. It comes with clear documentation which you will find you only need to read once. It’s tiny size means it just doesn’t occupy any real space within my kit bag, and certainly doesn’t add to the weight Whilst the use of a phone for the “brains” of the triggering episode may introduce a tiny delay when compared to the Miops Smart, it’s not really an issue when considering the tasks this device was created for, and the scenarios it will likely be deployed in. It was never designed for action stopping photography, such as that captured by the Miops Smart. But what it does, it does extremely competently, and it does it very well.

Where to buy

Miops have a list of distributors on their site at www.miops.com. If there isn’t a distributor in your country, you can buy directly from Miops. These units were provided by the UK distributor, UK Highland Photography.

Michael Sewell
Based in the UK, Michael has 35 years experience in commercial and corporate photography, covering sports, weddings and events in between.
sewellshouse.co.uk/