A rather small, but what has become to me, a rather important little addition to my kit. A multitude of uses and as I soon found out, a source of fun. Something that’s been lacking of late in my endless days of client orientated work.
The trigger, and a couple of (short) cables.
OK, a quick online search and the full PDF is available online for download here.
Another five minutes reading, and it all seemed very straight forward. Surely this would be a little more difficult than it first appears, particularly as we’ve done a great deal of high speed photography in the past for clients and we’re fully aware of the time and preparation involved with such shoots.
So with this in mind, we organised a number of shoots. The functions of particular interest to my team and I is the laser, sound and HDR and we will cover these in some depth.
One of the Miops features quite heavily touted is the accompanying App, allowing the Miops 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 and the operating system should be either iOS 7.0 or higher, or Android 4.3 or higher.
The Miops is fully functional without the app. In fact for the purpose of this review, we used the Miops without the app specifically to see how usable/easy it would be to obtain the imagery we were after. We found we 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 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 we 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 manually a number of times in various circumstances, I would have to say the app is a nice addition and the way I would now prefer to interact with the Miops. That said, if my phone died whilst on a location shoot, it would have little or no impact on my use of the Miops.
There are a few modes that are app only initiated. Scenario mode can be executed from the Miops interface, although it requires the app to set it up. Cable Release, Press & Hold, Press & Release and Timed Release are all app only features.
HDR options screen
Between you and me, I did have a minor hiccough when first trying to use the app. Basically, it wouldn’t connect to the Miops and would just say Demo instead of the Miops unit ID. After a bit of hair pulling, I uninstalled the app, reinstalled it and then re-booted the phone. Drama over and no problems since. The likelihood is that it was my phone and the apps I had running, rather than the Miops app itself. (However, I no longer need to worry about combing my hair!)
The Miops has a photocel 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.
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. 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. 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 timing of the shutter release. You may well think that shooting at 11 frames a second would pretty much increase our 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. 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. 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, but non 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 sensor, which was immediately alongside the camera. The Miops 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 inconsistent results, and that’s when we realised it wasn’t the laser, or the Miops. 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 compared to the cost of the original shot.
The final image is below:
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 may cause sufficient movement of the Miops 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.
The sound function allows triggering of either the flash or the camera, or both. We used the miops to trigger the camera, although I am aware that we were introducing a small delay (around 300 milliseconds) into the equation. That’s fine for what we had in mind. If, on the other hand it was something like a lighbulb being shattered, then we 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 manual.
Very easy to set up. Simply point the Miops 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 will trigger once. Particularly useful if using the dark environment and firing the flash mentioned above. In this case, multiple firing can ruin a high speed image.