Nero Trigger Review – Lightning, Sound, and Laser Camera Trigger

Posted March 30th, 2013 by   |  Photography  |  Permalink

The NeroTrigger is a camera trigger that connects to a camera via a cable and trips the shutter after certain conditions are met. For example, it will respond to lightning, sound, and laser beams to allow you to take photographs that you normally wouldn’t be able to capture with your own reflexes. The unit is very easy to use and was able to quickly figure out how to take difficult water drop images in my kitchen. The NeroTrigger is a very cool piece of gear that will find a permanent home in my camera bag.

NeroTrigger on camera

NeroTrigger mounted on the camera’s hot shoe, connected via cable.

NeroTrigger modes

The NeroTrigger has six different trigger modes including lightning, sound, laser, time-lapse, HDR, and DIY.

The NeroTrigger works in six different modes:
1. Lightning. This mode triggers the camera when it detects any sudden change in light level. The cause of the change can be lighting, fireworks, infrared, or just about any type of light.

2. Sound. Any noise such as popping balloons, breaking class, clapping hands, explosions will trip the camera shutter.

3. Timelapse. Here, the NeroTrigger controls the camera so you can take long timelapse sequences. This mode includes interval and exposure parameters, so you can program exactly how long to keep the shutter open for each exposure.

4. Laser. Point a laser beam at the NeroTrigger sensor and it will take a photo when the beam is broken. Can be used for wildlife photography, surveillance, and capturing fast moving objects.

5. HDR. This setup allows you to control exposures over multiple frames. This is useful if your camera doesn’t have a built-in auto bracketing feature, or if your camera’s auto bracketing feature is limited to just three frames.

6. DIY. The NeroTrigger has a dedicated DIY port on the side that allows you to connect an external signal generator to the unit that will then trip the camera’s shutter. This includes just about anything you can think of such as pressure sensitive plates, altitude detecting sensors, or electronic thermometers.

Water drop photograph

Water drop photograph using the NeroTrigger, Nikon D600, SB-700, SB-910, SB-800, and colored gels.

Over the last few days, I experimented with the NeroTrigger’s sound and laser functions. My goal was to create an interesting image of a water drop and I figured that these two modes were best suited for this type of photography.

Sound trigger mode is fairly straightforward and easy to understand. The first setting is the threshold, which allows you to set the unit’s sensitivity to different volumes of noise. A low sensitivity would be used for a gun shot while a high sensitivity would be used for something like water drops. In my testing, I found the highest sensitivity value, 999, would trigger the camera from the quiet hum of my running refrigerator. After some trial and error, I determined that I needed a value of about 970 for the water drop photography.

The next setting in sound mode is the delay. This allows you to program in a period of time from 0 milliseconds to 999 milliseconds between when the NeroTrigger detects the sound until it triggers the camera. For the water drops, I programmed it for 0 since I wanted the camera to trigger at the instant the drop impacted the water.

NeroTrigger sound trigger setup screen

The setup screen for sound trigger mode includes variables for Sensitivity, Delay, and Lock.

The third and last setting in the sound mode is LOCK. When it is turned off, NeroTrigger will continue firing the camera if it continues to detect noise. When it is turned on, NeroTrigger will only fire one single frame.

NeroTrigger sound trigger mode

Here was the lighting setup when using the NeroTrigger in sound trigger mode.

After working with the sound mode for a while, I decided to experiment with the laser mode. Laser mode is very cool and super simple to use. The way this mode works is you need to point a laser beam at the front light sensor of the NeroTrigger. Then, when the beam is broken, the NeroTrigger trips the camera’s shutter.

For my water drop experiments, I found the laser beam method to be much more reliable than the sound method. I used a standard red laser pointer and clamped it to a lighting stand using my Bogen Superclamp. Then, I aimed the laser beam at the front sensor of the NeroTrigger, being careful to make sure that the laser crossed the scene exactly where my photo subject would be located. Then, to take the water drop photos, I held my syringe above the laser beam and squeezed the syringe. Each time a water drop crossed the laser beam, the camera would trigger.

water drop photograph

Another water drop photograph taken with the NeroTrigger.

I did find that I needed to program in a 5 millisecond delay to the NeroTrigger in order to get the shot. The reason for this is that the laser beam is actually above the water, so that when the drop of water broke the beam, it hadn’t impacted the water yet. If the camera triggered at this point, then I’d get a photo of a drop of water in the air. For my setup, 5 milliseconds solved the problem.

For my flash equipment, I simply used one SB-700 on my camera body set for manual output at 1/128 power. Then, I set up to wireless remote flashes in SU-4 mode in Manual at 1/64 power. These low power settings resulted in very short pulses of light that were best for freezing the action of the moving water. I set the camera’s exposure system for f/16, 1/250 second and ISO 400. I added color gels to the remote flashes to give some color to the photographs.

For the water drop images, I used a Nikon D600, 70-200mm f2.8 and a Kenko 20mm extension tube. I connected the NeroTrigger to the D600 via the included cable, then mounted the NeroTrigger on small portable tripod next to the water.

NeroTrigger laser

Here’s laser trigger mode with the NeroTrigger. The laser is on the left and the NeroTrigger in the foreground. When the water drops cross the laser beam, the NeroTrigger trips the camera shutter

Even though the NeroTrigger is very simple to initially setup, I found that getting everything to work together took a good bit of time. Figuring out sound thresholds, delays, laser angles, strobe setups, exposure, focus point, and timing took me a few hours. That’s ok though since it was an incredible amount of fun. After I achieved initial success, I found myself wanting to keep shooting and keep trying new variations.

Overall, I highly recommend NeroTrigger. The system works great and will be easy to integrate into my photography both professionally and creatively. My mind is full of great new ideas on how I’ll be able to use NeroTrigger to create new images. Plus, the NeroTrigger is just a whole lot of fun! How often do you get to include laser beams, sound triggers, and camera gear in your photography?

This system will definitely bring out your inner geek. I can’t get enough of it and I know you’ll feel the same. The entire setup is lightweight and runs on two AAA batteries. Because of this, I’ll be finding a spot for it in my camera bag.

Learn more about the NeroTrigger here:
The Nero Trigger retails for $199.

NeroTrigger attached to camera

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