When it comes to mobile triggers or cable releases photographers often have multiple responses:
- I got the knock-off brand and it doesn’t work when I need it
- I got the basic button kind and have to count the time on my own
- The intervalometer is way too expensive
- I could save money and build a DIY release but that’s too much effort
Image from the Triggertrap website.
I hear comments like that on almost a daily basis. In my previous article on long exposure photography accessories I mentioned Triggertrap and Trigger Happy. In this article I’m going to discuss both of those (with a bonus tip at the end) and also discuss some other options that are available to you.
This article is not a review of the products but rather just an overview of what each offers. It is worth noting that I do own each of the products and will share my personal recommendation at the end of the article. So if you don’t care so much about the comparison then please skip down to the bonus tip and my recommendation.
However, if you’re considering a mobile trigger for your camera, but haven’t purchased one yet, then please continue reading.
Triggertrap started as a Kickstarter project, and really set the bar high for its standards and features. The Triggertrap software is . The quality of the physical cables is top notch, very durable, and they’re also attractive.
The mobile kits are available for Nikon, Canon, Fuji, Sony, Olympus, Samsung, Panasonic, Pentax, Sigma, Leica, Lytro, Hasselblad, Contax, Konica Minolta and Kodak.
A mobile kit is available for nearly every camera you could possibly want. It connects to the headphone jack of your phone and then the cable release part of your camera. The mobile kits start at $37.46 USD.
The mobile app (iOS and Android) has a variety of trigger options that can go way beyond just pushing the button. Here is a list of all the trigger options:
- Sound sensor
- Vibration sensor
- Motion sensor
- Facial recognition
- Star Trail
- Long Exposure HDR
- Long Exposure HDR time-lapse
- Press and Hold
- Timed Exposures
- Simple Cable Release
- Wifi Trigger
- Triggertrap also includes a neutral density filter calculator, which is convenient. Although I prefer Slower Shutter, it is convenient having a calculator in the same place as the trigger. The app also includes local sunrise and sunset times which is very convenient.
It is worth noting two more things about Triggertrap. First, all the features of the apps are not available on both iOS and Android. Second, that is likely to change quick because Triggertrap is always working on improvements and new features.
The apps are free so while you are paying for the mobile kits, you are not paying for the software side.
Trigger Happy also began as a Kickstarter project and was successfully funded. It works the same way at Triggertrap, using the headphone jack of your mobile device.
NOTE: Since writing this article, TriggerHappy has closed for business, but some of the products are still available. They decided to open their software up to the world and made it Open Source available on GitHub. They are also recommending people to check out Triggertrap.
The kits are available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Olympus, Sony only and retail at $29-49 USD. The apps are limited to the most basic features including the following trigger options:
- Simple camera trigger
- Time-lapse mode / Intervalometer
- HDR mode
This system was the first I owned, via the Kickstarter project; it’s changed since then but even the original still works very well. The apps are also free, so while you are paying for the kit you are not paying for the software side.
SmartShutter is from a company called Zesty Accessories in Japan, and is different than the other mobile releases as it uses Bluetooth to trigger instead of a wired release. Cool, right? The product sells for between $39.99 and $64.99 direct or through Amazon.
It works very well, but the app is extremely limited. I do have some issues with the design of the Nikon version, but instead of re-stating it here you can see to my full review and video of the product here.
I mentioned that the product uses Bluetooth, but you should know that it relies on your camera’s battery for power. That means if you’re using a camera like the Sony A7, which has poor battery life, then this device will drain your camera battery faster. But if you have a camera like the Nikon D810 your battery life will continue performing well.
The devices are available for Nikon, Canon, Sony, Olympus, Pentax, Konica Minolta, Contax, Fuji, Sigma, Hasselblad and Samsung.
The free app allows for a quick trigger of the camera or a timed exposure. But the timed exposure allows for intervals, a delayed start, and even the number of photos to capture. In addition, the app has the ability to geotag your photographs using your phone’s GPS as well. The app is only available for iOS and is also free.
is made by enlighten photo, the people who created Orbis and other amazing products for photographers. ioShutter is also the priciest of each of the triggers coming in at $69.99 for the cable kit. They do have off due to what seems to be damaged packaging.
It comes in a nice package and includes a pouch to hold the cable when not in use. The design is actually very similar to the Triggertrap where there is a module with a cable that connects the module to the camera. That way if one part breaks only half of the cable needs to be replaced.
ioShutter is available for Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Pentax, Samsung and Hasselblad. But the mobile app(s) are only available for iOS at the time I’m writing this. Yes, I used plural because the ioShutter app comes in two versions: Lite which is free and Pro, which is an additional $5.99.
ioShutter Lite gives you the standard shutter release function you’d expect to find in a cable release. However the Pro version comes with other trigger options:
- Timed exposure
You can also stack features like creating a time-lapse with timed exposures.
There are two quick things I want to mention before moving on to my recommended product.
The first is for Lifeproof case users. Your case comes with a headphone adapter. I leave mine connected to my earbuds all the time. So I picked up a second adapter, which connects, to my mobile kits.
The second tip is if you already own one of the cables mentioned above, but you want to try another app. I started with Trigger Happy but do not use their app anymore because I now use my favorite of them all, Triggertrap. Before I got my hands on a Triggertrap mobile kit I was using my Trigger Happy cable with the Triggertrap app. So it’s worth knowing that your cable kits should work fine with other apps. I also tested the Trigger Happy cable with ioShutter so I know it works there as well.
My favorite mobile trigger is Triggertrap for two reasons. For one the app is amazing and contains so many useful features that shouldn’t and can’t be ignored. The team at Triggertrap is also looking for more ways to innovate in the industry, and they’re working on amazing things. For the price of the mobile kits, and the quality of the product itself, on top of the incredible mobile apps, the product is truly a winner.
So there you go – a simple comparison of your options, some tips and my recommendation. Feel free to comment with questions and comments as I’m sure you have your own preferences.