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Categorized | Articles, Gear, Jason DiMichele

Gear — Pluto Trigger (full review)

Reviewed by Jason DiMichele

Have you ever missed a great photo opportunity because you weren’t quick enough pressing the shutter button, or were fumbling with camera settings? There are many products on the market that allow you to remotely control your camera, removing the mundane process of doing repetitive actions. One of these products, the Pluto Trigger, is a very powerful device that could help broaden your photographic vision. Will the Pluto Trigger inspire you?

The Pluto Trigger (www.plutotrigger.com), approximately $160, is a unique and sleek looking, well-made device. There are three ports (USB charging, auxiliary and camera/flash), a shutter release/Bluetooth button, status LEDs, an infrared remote, three sensors (infrared, light/laser and sound) with seriously fast response times and a power switch. Measuring 60 mm x 40 mm x 19 mm, and weighing a mere 37 g, there’s an incredible amount of technology packed into a product small and light enough to be brought anywhere. The box contents include the tripod mountable Pluto Trigger, a tripod mountable laser pointer for break-beam triggering, a USB cable and charger, a flash PC sync cable, a hot shoe adapter, a soft draw-string carrying pouch and the camera cable, if you chose one at time of purchase. Additional cables and accessories can be purchased for reasonable prices.

The Pluto Trigger supports over 300 cameras from most manufacturers, including DSLR, mirrorless and some point-and-shoot models. Most cameras can be controlled with a cable, and some via infrared as well. However, some functionality isn’t available when using infrared control, such as those that use the camera’s bulb mode. The infrared control has a range of three to seven metres. You’ll also need to download the Pluto phone (or tablet) application, which works on most Android and iOS devices. The Pluto Trigger application is nicely designed and has proven to be very reliable since I’ve been using it. Considering the complex actions that the Pluto Trigger is capable of, the application designers have kept it quite intuitive and easy to use. Bluetooth is used to connect the phone to the Pluto Trigger, with a range of 10 to 20 metres.

The Pluto Trigger offers a staggering 24 shooting modes. While some modes won’t be particularly useful for photographers in the field, some that I believe to be frequently beneficial include standard shutter release, time-lapse (with bulb-ramp support), HDR, star trail, sound, light, lightening, fusion and motion. Some of these modes use your phone’s sensors, and some of them use the Pluto Trigger sensors. It’s recommended to put your camera into manual focus when using the trigger, but auto focus will often work as well. I’ve found it useful using the Pluto Trigger as a simple shutter release, as you’ll then be ready for any photographic opportunity.

©Jason DiMichele
Pluto-Trigger-Simple-Shutter-Release-With-Fujifilm-XT-1-Full-Spectrum

In addition to the physical photo taking features of the Pluto Trigger, there’s a light meter and four very handy calculators that allow you to quickly determine depth-of-field/hyper-focal distance, calculate sunrise/sunset times, determine the proper exposure when using a neutral density filter and find the maximum shutter speed to achieve sharp star photos (as opposed to star trails).

Battery life is important for a device like the Pluto Trigger. The battery lasts approximately 20 hours using Bluetooth and 40 hours without Bluetooth. The Pluto Trigger can run independently in modes that don’t require your phone as a trigger, thus you could turn off Bluetooth in those situations. Like any rechargeable device, the Pluto Trigger’s battery will need replacement at some point, but it’s user replaceable, and reasonably priced. Since the Pluto Trigger can be charged via USB, it can also be powered by a 5-volt external battery in the field, which can be useful.

I recommend using a hot-shoe or tripod mount for your phone. This will allow your hands to be free for other tasks, as well as perfectly position your phone for the best opportunity.

A lot of camera manufacturers offer applications to control their cameras from your phone. Although they do work well for basic functionality, a device as capable as the Pluto Trigger is leaps and bounds more powerful. The functionality the Pluto Trigger offers can open some interesting creative and experimental paths for your photography. If photographing a wide variety of subject matter in many different situations interests you, I believe the Pluto Trigger is an excellent investment.

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