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Trigger Happy – Camera Control From Your iOS and Android Device

i-Jbpc5vF-LAt 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.

What Is It?

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.

Geeks, Photography, Outdoors

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?

More Than An Intervalometer

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.

More In Store

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.”

Questions Answered

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. “

Conclusion

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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Peter West Carey is a world traveling photographer who now is spending a large amount of time going back through 6 years of travel photo and processing them like he should have to start with. He is also helping others learn about photography with the free series 31+ Days Of Photography Experiments which builds off of the 31+ Days To Better Photography series on his blog.

  • http://tapanshah.net Tapan

    I am sold too, looks very interesting; I have pledged and backed these guys up. They seems very enthusiastic and dedicated to this project. Good luck.

  • http://www.vividcornwall.co.uk Rusty

    Admittedly it does have lots of potential and will be a great addition for people with iPhones. If you have an Android however (and a compatible Canon camera), DSLR Controller will do all this and a whole lot more for around £6GBP (approx $10). When I first had the app I couldnt believe you could have so much functionality for the price. Works like a charm.
    Anyway glad to see there is an equivalent iOS app that will help with HDR bracketing. Why Canon limit the exposures to three is a mystery to me. I’m sure it wouldnt be too much work to get the camera software to do it. Nikon have had it for quite a while now.
    Nice review btw. Cheers.

  • http://www.36ty.in Raghav

    Really nice app esp for Canoners like us ;) who like you said are stuck with 3 brackets. The closest to this would be a Promote Control which will set you back by $300, though has a lot more options & is a specialized hardware But at $70 and right in your pocket you can hardly find fault with this neat app.

  • http://www.frozenevent.com Laurie

    Seems like a great use for a phone, (though I do question if I will want to leave my phone connected to my camera for too long)

    What sort of ideas do people have for great photos to take with this?

  • http://www.randesigns.com Randumb

    Soooooo…it works with other cameras? (i.e. Pentax?) Videos are blocked at work…pardon me if it was answered in the video.

  • http://www.36ty.in Raghav

    Another nice app on similar lines is the DSLR.bot but it doesn’t have a physical connection, works on IR :( and runs only on iPhone. Good to see Android too for Trigger Happy.

  • http://pastenes.com Richard

    Re inventing the wheel? —> http://www.dslrbot.com/

  • http://www.newearthonline.co.uk Dave P

    sounds great! have backed it too :)

  • http://peterwestcarey.com Peter West Carey

    Richard,
    Possibly reinventing, but my take on the DSLRBot is that it needs to be pointed at the camera for the infrared to work, correct? If that is the case, I can’t imagine using it for time-lapse shots. A cable is far more sensible, especially if you don’t want to be out in the weather.

  • floyd

    Dlsr controller for android does all and more for a lot less money.

  • http://www.disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/ Alexx
  • http://anotherphotographynoob.wordpress.com/5 Anotherphotographynoob

    Too bad I have D3000, looks A-some!! This calls for anupgrade ;)

  • http://jeffejensen.blogspot.com Jeff E Jensen

    Yeah, I think I will be backing as well. Very cool. I love that there is a lightning trigger as well. Good stuff.

  • http://www.fuzzypig.com Fuzzypiggy

    These lads have taken it to a full remote control with remote image viewing for Canon SLRs from an Android enabled phone.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.chainfire.dslrcontroller

    No need to carry a laptop when you need to shoot tethered!

  • http://jimhuntphoto.com jim

    Sorry but the price is far to high.

  • http://robotretina.blogspot.com Charles

    Peter, my guess – because it’s connected to the audio-out jack is that anything that would normally send a signal through that jack if you had headphones plugged in will interfere with the operation. In fact I wonder about normal alerts doing the same thing – although these guys probably already thought about it.

    Looks very interesting. If I had a job right now I’d be backing them for sure!

  • http://www.thomasgaitley.com Tom Gaitley

    Just pledged my $50. I almost opted for the “just give money” because I love to see the entrepreneurial spirit of people who combine what they love with what they can do with great results….but, I want the remote too damn much to be that selfliess! LOL

  • Jeremy

    I emailed Kevin Harrington and he told me that they’re also working on sound detection triggers. I know it’s a bit cliche, but balloons anyone? Looking forward to the app and remote. Sounds really exciting.

  • http://www.yourcameraworld.com Janet

    It is nice to control the camera through iPhone and Droids. This looks very interesting. A project that is worth funding support. Your efforts are much appreciated.

  • Davide

    I use DSLR remote on android that works well on with my Canon and do almost the same. On theyr internet page the explayn how to build the cable and the app is free ;)

  • http://www.ballengerphotos.com James

    I’m so excited for this to release! I have so many plan for it. I pledged and fully support these innovators.

  • http://www.twitter.com/yomonk1 Robert

    I ordered in May after reading this article. Had very high hopes. Sept 5th and I still do not have my remote. Only a slew of excuses from the company. I am not a Kickstarter before you ask. I am a website customer. If you ogffer a product on a website you should very well provide some sore of customer service and satisfaction. Not getting any of that here. Thumbs down

  • Andre

    Has anybody checked out TriggerTrap? Getting the cable and the dongle separately is kind of a pain, but it’s only about 10 bucks for each, so $20 total. Amazon Prime got me the cables in 2 days. :) They’ve got a free version of the app which I’m using, but the paid version allows for some pretty cool stuff like triggering from motion, sound, vibration, and even gps. Threw it on my old iPhone 3GS and works pretty well! Only drawback with an app-based intervalometer is that it takes up your phone, and sometimes batteries on older phones can drain pretty quickly unless you have a charger. I’m considering building the standalone Arduino just for kicks and to free up my phone. Plus the laser tripwire seems pretty cool for high speed shots.

    https://triggertrap.com/

  • Ritz

    have used a cool app on android that captures lightning https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.co.pixeltech.lightningtrigger

  • Tom

    Why would you buy this when you can use any smart phone to connect via WiFi?
    Even if your camera does not have WiFi, you can buy WiFi adapters for your camera’s USB port.
    Why would you NOT bog down your precious iPhone and use it’s powerful computing capabilities to do something other than keep up with faceplant gossip?

    I have an Android phone and I’m using 2 trigger apps with my 70D.
    DSLR Controller (dslrcontroller.com) is VERY powerful! If you like the multiple aperture bracketing option then you’ll be blown away to know that this app allows you to do focus bracketing!

    Canon makes their own App called EOS remote.
    It’s not as complex as others but it beats a bulb or IR wireless trigger, hands down!
    Plus you can grab photos off your camera (even if you don’t shoot jpg) and save them on your phone or use them for upload to your favorite share site.

    You seriously use your phone to write?

    Catch up with the rest of us. ;)

Some older comments

  • Ritz

    January 5, 2013 07:59 am

    have used a cool app on android that captures lightning https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=in.co.pixeltech.lightningtrigger

  • Andre

    September 29, 2012 04:09 am

    Has anybody checked out TriggerTrap? Getting the cable and the dongle separately is kind of a pain, but it's only about 10 bucks for each, so $20 total. Amazon Prime got me the cables in 2 days. :) They've got a free version of the app which I'm using, but the paid version allows for some pretty cool stuff like triggering from motion, sound, vibration, and even gps. Threw it on my old iPhone 3GS and works pretty well! Only drawback with an app-based intervalometer is that it takes up your phone, and sometimes batteries on older phones can drain pretty quickly unless you have a charger. I'm considering building the standalone Arduino just for kicks and to free up my phone. Plus the laser tripwire seems pretty cool for high speed shots.

    https://triggertrap.com/

  • Robert

    September 6, 2012 08:33 am

    I ordered in May after reading this article. Had very high hopes. Sept 5th and I still do not have my remote. Only a slew of excuses from the company. I am not a Kickstarter before you ask. I am a website customer. If you ogffer a product on a website you should very well provide some sore of customer service and satisfaction. Not getting any of that here. Thumbs down

  • James

    April 4, 2012 10:35 am

    I'm so excited for this to release! I have so many plan for it. I pledged and fully support these innovators.

  • Davide

    March 30, 2012 04:40 pm

    I use DSLR remote on android that works well on with my Canon and do almost the same. On theyr internet page the explayn how to build the cable and the app is free ;)

  • Janet

    March 30, 2012 02:59 pm

    It is nice to control the camera through iPhone and Droids. This looks very interesting. A project that is worth funding support. Your efforts are much appreciated.

  • Jeremy

    March 28, 2012 07:50 pm

    I emailed Kevin Harrington and he told me that they're also working on sound detection triggers. I know it's a bit cliche, but balloons anyone? Looking forward to the app and remote. Sounds really exciting.

  • Tom Gaitley

    March 28, 2012 10:38 am

    Just pledged my $50. I almost opted for the "just give money" because I love to see the entrepreneurial spirit of people who combine what they love with what they can do with great results....but, I want the remote too damn much to be that selfliess! LOL

  • Charles

    March 28, 2012 08:46 am

    Peter, my guess - because it's connected to the audio-out jack is that anything that would normally send a signal through that jack if you had headphones plugged in will interfere with the operation. In fact I wonder about normal alerts doing the same thing - although these guys probably already thought about it.

    Looks very interesting. If I had a job right now I'd be backing them for sure!

  • jim

    March 27, 2012 11:27 pm

    Sorry but the price is far to high.

  • Fuzzypiggy

    March 27, 2012 11:06 pm

    These lads have taken it to a full remote control with remote image viewing for Canon SLRs from an Android enabled phone.

    https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=eu.chainfire.dslrcontroller

    No need to carry a laptop when you need to shoot tethered!

  • Jeff E Jensen

    March 27, 2012 02:56 pm

    Yeah, I think I will be backing as well. Very cool. I love that there is a lightning trigger as well. Good stuff.

  • Anotherphotographynoob

    March 27, 2012 07:56 am

    Too bad I have D3000, looks A-some!! This calls for anupgrade ;)

  • Alexx

    March 27, 2012 05:43 am

    Definitely buying!

    http://www.disney-photography-blog.blogspot.com/

  • floyd

    March 27, 2012 04:45 am

    Dlsr controller for android does all and more for a lot less money.

  • Peter West Carey

    March 27, 2012 04:41 am

    Richard,
    Possibly reinventing, but my take on the DSLRBot is that it needs to be pointed at the camera for the infrared to work, correct? If that is the case, I can't imagine using it for time-lapse shots. A cable is far more sensible, especially if you don't want to be out in the weather.

  • Dave P

    March 27, 2012 04:34 am

    sounds great! have backed it too :)

  • Richard

    March 27, 2012 04:07 am

    Re inventing the wheel? ---> http://www.dslrbot.com/

  • Raghav

    March 27, 2012 02:41 am

    Another nice app on similar lines is the DSLR.bot but it doesn't have a physical connection, works on IR :( and runs only on iPhone. Good to see Android too for Trigger Happy.

  • Randumb

    March 27, 2012 02:38 am

    Soooooo...it works with other cameras? (i.e. Pentax?) Videos are blocked at work...pardon me if it was answered in the video.

  • Laurie

    March 27, 2012 02:33 am

    Seems like a great use for a phone, (though I do question if I will want to leave my phone connected to my camera for too long)

    What sort of ideas do people have for great photos to take with this?

  • Raghav

    March 27, 2012 02:30 am

    Really nice app esp for Canoners like us ;) who like you said are stuck with 3 brackets. The closest to this would be a Promote Control which will set you back by $300, though has a lot more options & is a specialized hardware But at $70 and right in your pocket you can hardly find fault with this neat app.

  • Rusty

    March 27, 2012 02:13 am

    Admittedly it does have lots of potential and will be a great addition for people with iPhones. If you have an Android however (and a compatible Canon camera), DSLR Controller will do all this and a whole lot more for around £6GBP (approx $10). When I first had the app I couldnt believe you could have so much functionality for the price. Works like a charm.
    Anyway glad to see there is an equivalent iOS app that will help with HDR bracketing. Why Canon limit the exposures to three is a mystery to me. I'm sure it wouldnt be too much work to get the camera software to do it. Nikon have had it for quite a while now.
    Nice review btw. Cheers.

  • Tapan

    March 27, 2012 01:18 am

    I am sold too, looks very interesting; I have pledged and backed these guys up. They seems very enthusiastic and dedicated to this project. Good luck.

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