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Have You Heard About The Snaperture Camera Trigger?

The Snaperture Camera Trigger is a fantastic photography accessory and best of all, it's come from a Kickstarter campaign with a unique beginning.

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This image, Teardrop In The Eye, demonstrates the power of having total control of all the timing variables.

This image, Teardrop In The Eye, demonstrates the power of having total control of all the timing variables.


In the summer of 2014, while browsing my favourite photography magazine, my interest was piqued by an advertisement for Triggertrap, a remote triggering device based on the Arduino single-board computer. At the time I happened to be seeking a specialist genre for my photographic activities and this certainly seemed like an area worth exploring. I followed up with some online research regarding Triggertrap and although my interest in high-speed photography became deeper as I researched the subject, I was rather disappointed with the reviews I read about the Triggertrap device itself. It appeared that changing the batteries was a major ordeal, and the camera didn't perform a focusing operation prior to taking a shot. Also, only one sensor could be used at a time, by plugging it into a jack socket. As a result, and being an engineer, I decided that building my own unit was the best option.

"After some consideration, I decided to build my own camera trigger and so I put my engineering knowledge to work, combining my experience with mechanical, electronic and software engineering, to produce a prototype Snaperture Camera Trigger." Joe Zanrè, Snaperture creator.

Building The Snaperture Camera Trigger

Having spent at least a decade designing embedded microprocessor systems as a career, the project seemed quite straightforward. My idea was to have an array of sensors available at all times, rather than plugging in a single sensor for use, and to use a 16-button keypad to enter data to the unit. Having procured an Arduino, PIR sensor and Ultrasonics range-finder from Amazon, and a project box from Radio Shack, I set to work with drill, hacksaw and files and produced a prototype unit.

Next, I added a sound sensor and a light sensor and set about conducting some experiments. By connecting my prototype to my laptop, via USB, I could use the Arduino development environment to write code and execute it immediately, allowing the system to be developed and tested rapidly, in situ. I also added a real-time clock, a feature that was offered only as an additional purchase by some devices currently on the market.

My online investigation of high-speed photography showed that a very popular application was capturing images of balloons popping, however I was underwhelmed with the images I saw of vaguely balloon-shaped, collapsing bodies of water. Nor was I impressed with the fact that a wet lab was usually required for the process. Added to that, the operation called for, if not an extra pair of hands, a strictly coordinated sequence to be followed in order to avoid overexposing the image, since the camera was required to be in bulb mode for the operation. Not surprisingly, I set about simplifying the process and within a short time had produced the following image:


This was captured in my study, simply by following the instructions displayed on the Snaperture unit.

This was captured in my study, simply by following the instructions displayed on the Snaperture unit.


Capturing Images Of Water Drops

Another popular activity that centred around high-speed photography seemed to be capturing water drops, and there were many instances of this online. I promptly set about constructing an arrangement to release a water drop on demand. Little did I realise what this simple addition would lead to. The challenge initially was selecting the correct delay, in milliseconds, between a drop of water being released and the camera shutter firing, but this was soon solved, and the following image was captured.


Initial water drop image captured using Snaperture

Initial water drop image captured using Snaperture


As you can imagine, I was absolutely stunned by this result, and I spontaneously danced a jig with excitement. This far, far surpassed the stringy examples of water drop photography images I had seen online. No doubt it was at this point that the idea of marketing my device began to grow in my mind. Obviously, this would require a redesign of the unit’s casing. Once again, my engineering skills were called into play and the device was transformed into an ergonomically contoured accessory, as shown below:

Snaperture in new housing

Snaperture in new housing


Putting The Snaperture Camera Trigger To The Test

As with any commercial venture, marketing is the key, so a few units were constructed and given to photographers to test and review. The feedback suggested that Snaperture met all expectations functionally, however the unit was inconvenient to use, in terms of size (the length of the body is around eight inches). Also, it was suggested that a means of remotely inputting information would be welcome.

This called for a complete redesign of Snaperture’s architecture, eliminating the need for the keypad and display, and adding Bluetooth technology to facilitate remote data entry. It also facilitated the addition of a function that can capture an image when the subject occupies a predetermined position in space, without requiring intersecting laser beams. The end result is a truly extraordinary product that is attractive, easy to use and, most importantly, produces amazing images.

Data is now input using a smartphone app

Data is now input using a smartphone app


The Snaperture Camera Trigger Works With Smartphones

By reproducing the original Snaperture keypad and display graphically, in the smartphone app, the simplicity of use has been preserved. No icons are required to input data; it is a simple menu-driven system. The Snaperture unit itself now presents an attractive, even cute, form that is tripod mountable and it can be used with any camera that has a remote input port. The smartphone app performs data input only; it is not used to trigger the camera. This eliminates the possible latency and bandwidth delays found with those devices that trigger via smartphone sensors. This also applies to the real-time clock, which is housed inside Snaperture, separate from the smartphone clock.


The Snaperture Camera Trigger Has Been Rigorously Tested 

What makes Snaperture a unique proposition is the fact that it has been in use for a few years now, and as a result, its operation has been fully verified and validated. A range of stunning water drop images can be seen on Etsy which was set up to serve popular demand. The only remaining step in the manufacturing of the product is the tooling for injection-moulding the cases (the first case was 3D printed). This means that there is zero risk of the concept failing to reach completion, an unfortunate ending that has been witnessed before in this product category.


To be kept informed regarding the campaign launch, and other news, go to the Snaperture Krowdster page and enter your details.

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