Way back when, when I was editing Videocamera magazine, there was a distinct line between the subjects we covered, and this carried over into Australian Videocamera when I struck out on my own.
That is, there was little blur between camcorder reviews, editing software reviews, special effects creation, audio and so on.
Today this has all changed with a swathe of new tools available to make life so much easier. Take something like the Blackmagic Design ATEM Mini Pro which not that long ago in technical terms, would have cost $1000s and in fact, required a number of different devices to get the same result.
The same could be said for the humble printer that evolved into a multi-function contraption as technology evolved and things got, well, smarter.
Today we have a multitude of smart things that couldn’t have even been imagined 25 years ago. Arthur C. Clarke said it best many years ago when he stated “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic”
So an amateur photographer back not so long ago would have been astounded by your best little black box I have been looking at today. It is called a Pluto Trigger.
In conjunction with a dSLR camera, what it can do is simply astonishing. And for the price, mind boggling.
I want to preface this by saying I have yet to fire the thing in anger as they say. If there is one single drawback to the Pluto Trigger, it is that the documentation is a little lacking. In fact out of the box, all you get is a 2-sided quick start slip of paper that is simply a pointer to the smartphone app you need and how to get to the main menu. It doesn’t even explain what the items in the box are; why is there a laser in there? What are the various cables for and so on?
There is an online manual, but that is also not in the way I prefer a manual to be (your mileage of course may vary here). You can find that at https://plutotrigger.com/pages/manuals .
Consequently, to get to know how to setup and operate the little beast, I have spent the day trawling online videos and finally came across a set designed specifically for the Pluto Trigger, with each going through a feature of the unit’s shooting style as well as a setup video.
These have been put together by an Australian photographer by the name of Gill (as in Gillian) Fry and are very comprehensive indeed. You can see her full suite at www.youtube.com/gillfryphotography
So just what does the Pluto Trigger do that is so gob smacking I hear you ask.
I remember an episode of Midsomer Murders when at the scene of the crime Barnaby asks Fleur the pathologist “what happened to the victim (and give me the short version)”.
“He’s dead” she says dead pan faced.
So in that light, the Pluto Trigger fires the shutter button the camera it is connected to via a cable.
But it’s what can cause it to fire the shutter button is what is so brilliant.
If you take the simplest, that of timelapse. In the app (connected to the Pluto Trigger by Bluetooth) you simply tell it how many shots to take and at what interval. There is a bunch of presets such as Sunrise, Sunset, Night Sky and so on, but you can override everything or simply create your own settings. To give you an idea of flexibility, the maximum duration is 99 hours and the maximum number of shots is 99,999.
But then you get into the setting menu and the other options are as I say, astounding.
Amongst many, many are options such as Star Trail, Sound, Voice, Light, Motion and Infrared. But my two favourites so far are Lightning and Laser.
With Lightning, a sensor picks up the light intensity difference when the lightning bolt starts and then fires the trigger. Your shutter speed will dictate how much of the strike you get – Gill recommends 1/15th of a second. You have to play around with sensitivities to get things “just right”, but simply amazing results are possible as shown on the website of Anthony Lombardi – www.instagram.com/fluid_images.
Laser as the name suggests, uses the laser that comes in the box. To set it up, you point it at the laser light receptor LED on the front of the Pluto Trigger. This creates a beam (duh!) and when this is broken, the shutter is triggered.
By careful setting (and experimentation) of delays, height of dropping an object, shutter speed and so on, then some dazzling shots of breaking glass, splashes etc can be obtained.
In fact for a lot of things the Pluto Trigger can do, there is no need for dedicated high speed cameras as the average dSLR is quite capable.
I admit the Pluto Trigger may not be for everyone. But the possibilities certainly get my creative juices flowing and for the price of AUD$178 + whatever cable your camera needs it’s not about to break the bank to see if it works for you.
I got mine direct from Pluto Trigger at https://plutotrigger.com/products/pluto-trigger
I aim to actually play with it over the next few days and will publish the results I get. I suspect this will be a lot of fun!
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