A Review of the MIOPS Smart+ Trigger for Landscape Photography
Should smart triggers be a part of landscape photographers’ go-to tools?
Most experienced landscape photographers would say that it would be prudent to have at least a form of a remote shutter for your camera for landscape photography and the importance of this increases if you are someone who does really long exposures, time-lapse, and interval shooting. There are many uses for remote shutters, camera triggers, and intervalometers, though not an absolute essential for the craft.
In the simplest way, remote shutters allow you to trigger the camera without touching it, avoiding any camera shake that may ruin the image if you are shooting with a slow shutter speed. A common work-around for this is using a 2-second timer that is usually built-in with most cameras. However, there are certain shots that would require specific timing. One such example would be a common technique called “wave painting” which is shooting the crashing of waves for a couple of seconds to get a smooth brushed texture when shooting seascapes. This can be done with an on-board timer but would definitely lead to a lot of missed shots.
Of course, another common use of remote shutters is for shooting really long exposures. This was a must-have roughly around 4-5 years ago when most cameras could only do up to 30 seconds of exposure without any accessory. Bulb mode was, of course, an option but that would have meant pressing and holding the button for the entire duration of the exposure and that would definitely lead to camera shake. While many manufacturers nowadays have cameras that are capable of onboard long exposures up to 15-minutes, there are still some that have not added that feature and for users of those cameras, that is another reason to get a remote shutter.
Lastly, another great function that camera remotes introduced about a decade ago was interval shooting. Remote intervalometers were, for a while, go-to choices for time-lapse shooters and also offered more basic functions such as bulb timer long exposure. However, most cameras that were released in the past 5 years now also have this function built-in but of course, some have limitations compared to fully customizable triggers.
The MIOPS Smart+ Camera Trigger
This tool isn’t entirely new. In fact, it first came out in 2014 as a Kickstarter campaign and for full transparency, I’ve always been curious about this product and how it would impact my landscape photography workflow, but I had limited access to it because of my geographical location (plot twist: one local store has apparently had it for 3 years and I just didn’t know.) Nonetheless, let’s take a look at how this camera trigger, or rather, intervalometer-on-steroids, could benefit a landscape photographer’s shooting workflow.
Build, Design, and Functionality
The Miops Smart+ has a very distinct gray plastic body with orange accents on the buttons, switches, and rubber ports. Though light and made of plastic, it does look like it could withstand a bit of moisture and dust because of the rubber seals, however, when in use, of course, even the ports not being used are exposed, so protection is a bit questionable. It may have been more secure if each port had its own cover instead of having one long cover for all of them. The proprietary cable could also come with a bit of a seal to protect the port while in use.
It features an LCD screen on top, adjacent to all the buttons. The user interface is really quite simple to use if you know which model you want to use. Everything about using it is pretty much straightforward at this point. It is a plus that the Smart+ trigger can actually function both as a remote-controlled trigger with a smartphone app and at the same time, can be used as a stand-alone trigger through the menu system on the device. It’s easy to use as a stand-alone trigger if you’re shooting with your camera at eye-level or lower but a bit hard to use on the hot-shoe if you have it set up taller than you are. It would have been great if it had a way to tilt up for the screen to be visible from a lower angle. Otherwise, the mounting thread below it can be used to mount it onto an articulating arm if you have one. It’s also very noteworthy that the device comes with its own rechargeable battery through a USB cable. This battery holds 1020 mAh which seems to be very high capacity for such a device. Personally, I’ve been using it intermittently for the past month and the indicator is still at full.
Basic Landscape Functions
Everything expected out of a camera remote is available on this device. The most basic function of the device is as a remote. Through this mode, you can choose either to simply just trigger the shutter through “cable release”, or hold the exposure manually through “press and hold” or “press and lock”. For specifically timed exposures and delay, “Timer mode” allows adjustments for up to 99:99.99 for both exposure time and delay time. When being used with the MIOPS Mobile app, a very handy exposure time calculator can be used to calculate the necessary exposure time based on a base (no ND filter) exposure and how many stops of an ND filter you are using. (Refer to demo video above)
Output from demo video above
The trigger also allows exposure bracketing through the HDR mode that can do up to 7 frames with customizable exposure intervals from 1/2 to 2 EVF and allows time intervals as well. Of course, the MIOPS Smart+ also functions as an intervalometer allowing up to 99:99 intervals, 99:99 exposure time, and 999 exposure limit. More than capable for time-lapse and star trail sequences.
Advanced Functions for Landscape and Time-lapse
This wasn’t shot with the MIOPS Smart+ but would have been much easier to shoot if it was. (No chance to extensively test the lightning sensor yet because it’s summer where I am)
The MIOPS Smart+ is definitely more than just a regular intervalometer/remote shutter with some pretty impressive sensors for various special shooting conditions. The Smart+’s lightning mode makes use of a light trigger that monitors for flashes of light that are typical of lightning strikes. Both on the app and on the device, the sensor’s sensitivity to light flashes can be adjusted to filter for stronger (or brighter) lightning strikes. A pre-focus option can also be activated for faster reflex. Alternatively, the light sensor can also be used for “Storm-lapse” which is continuous interval shooting to be trigger by variations in lighting as well.
Other functions and applications
The Smart+ trigger is also equipped with a sound trigger that works similarly to the light trigger. This can be quite useful for shooting things or objects that have loud sounds. In a landscape photography setting, this can be quite useful for shooting fireworks and getting really good light trails. In other situations, this can be very handy for high-speed and special effects that may involve loud sounds like popping a balloon or breaking glass.
This trigger also has a laser sensor mode that works pretty much like a motion sensor. The laser points directly to what will be in the frame and any object tripping that line would trigger the camera to shoot. Quite handy for shooting very fast-moving objects or people remotely for sports, action, or performing arts.
What I Liked:
Very useful features and functionality Can be used with an app or stand-alone Easy to use and manipulate
What Can Be Improved
Dust/Moisture protection can be improved No angle adjustment to see the screen from high angles