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At first glance, the Trigger Happy project on Kickstarter looked like a bit of a gimmick. It looked like a fancy intervalometer hooked to an expensive iPhone. I already have an intervalometer, why do I need to bog down my beloved iPhone (or Droid) with the simple task of shooting pictures?
Then I watched the video and emailed Kevin Harrington, the mastermind behind the already highly funded project. And I was convinced enough to sign up for my own copy to be delivered in June. Here’s what convinced me this project is worth funding and why you might be interested in the same.
The Trigger Happy has two parts. One part is a cable that will connect to your iOS or Android device through the headphone jack. The cable then connects, in-line, to a small controller that is, “…roughly 1 inch long and 1/2″ diameter,” and then to your camera. They will be making different models for the different remote control connectors on different cameras. The other part is an app to control your camera.
Take a look at the video:
Now seriously, I can relate with these guys. They are ambitious, geeks (most certainly a term of endearment as I fit the classification), photographers and lovers of the outdoors. To me that’s a winning combination. They are into all of these aspects of the project and that’s important to me, to show passion for what you’re doing. What about the product?
My first impression was partially right; this unit is an intervalometer, but it is so much more. As a Canon owner I was instantly drawn to the mention of bracketing….up to nine frames! My 7D (and a lot of Canons) can only do three frames and this has always made me envious of Pentax, Nikon and others who can bracket at least five images natively. Nine shots! Heaven. After emailing Kevin he made it apparent the total dynamic range for the bracketing would be 16 stops (8 over exposed and 8 under exposed). For Canon owners this is a great reason to drop $50 on the unit.
Now combine that bracketing for a single shot with the ability to work as a true intervalometer, and HDR time-lapse just got easier, for all kinds of cameras. The list is long and can be found here. This intervalometer function also supports bramping, or the bulb ramping technique used in time-lapse to smoothly transition from night to day and back again.
The list of features under development highlights more useful functions the group plans to add (although they are not guaranteed to be available when the units ship after the project ends). One of the upcoming features that interested me most was the lightning detection feature. Normally, this requires yet another device to be attached to your camera and carried. If I can just use my iPhone to take lightning shots, I will be a happy camper (unless the storm is coming my way, then I’m not camping, I’m heading home). When I asked Kevin about this, he told me, “Yes, we still have a bit to do development wise.”
I still had a few more questions for Kevin when I thought of practical application. So, there I am, in the wilderness and setting up to take a sunset HDR time lapse that will last into about an hour past sunset. I already figure I will want a waterproof case for my iPhone, such as the Pelican case with a headphone jack. And some velcro to hold it in place. But what if I want to continue to use my phone? To listen to music or to get some writing done in the tent, outside of the cold? Will it stop when my phone locks?
“Well, you can lock it and it will still run, that’s the background processing. You can’t play music and have Trigger Happy going, because the music will trip up the Trigger Happy circuit. Other background processes work.”
This is good news to me as it doesn’t completely take over my phone. I can, if I desire, also shoot a time-lapse with my phone via iTimeLapse if I want. Or possibly record a video. Now what about wanting more range? Can I grab a 5m audio extension cable to keep my phone warm in my tent?
“Yes, you can extend it with a simple male-female stereo audio cord. We don’t guarantee this will work, because some phones don’t have the power to deliver the signal through a longer cable. But in reality most phones will do this fine. 5m is fine. “
I’m sold and as mentioned, I put in my order. When it arrives I will gladly write a review here on DPS. I am still curious if any audio action will cause a problem (i.e. Can I still play the new Angry Birds Space while my shots are taken? What if I mute the sound?). But the upside would be the option, with a higher pledge, to get one unit that will control up to three cameras at once. Think 50MP+ HDR panorama time-lapse.
I love products like this that open up possibilities for more creativity from photography through the application of existing technology.
If you are interested in backing the Trigger Happy Project, head over to their Kickstarter page to see how you can procure your own copy. Your chance to back the project ends May 4th, 2012.
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