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Author Topic: Camera Flash Trigger -- Includes pretty pictures  (Read 6798 times)
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Shrewsbury, MA
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I used Arduino to build a trigger for my camera's flash.  It turned out to work really well!  The write up includes an explanation of how camera triggers work and the benefits of using Arduino.  One benefit of using a microcontroller like Arduino is that it's easy to have multiple sensors and then have intelligent triggering algorithms.  You can read about it here.  http://www.glacialwanderer.com/hobbyrobotics/?p=11

There are more pictures linked to in the article above, but here's one of my favorites.



If anyone has any recommendations on how to make the article or the flash trigger better let me know.
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I tried with a ultrasonic sensor, but found that refresh rate is too big for fast photos.
Also tried a gp2d12 infrared sensor, but the same happened.

I thought using a laser like yours, and i see that it works! I'll try it definitely.
thanks
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I built one of these flash triggers from plans in popular electronics in the early 90's.  It was a lot of fun to play with, but used analog electronics and was a lot less flexible than what you can do with an Arduino.

I also used a flashflight because there were no cheap laser pointers, so my setup had to be pretty delicate because not a lot of light was hitting the sensor.

It was also kind of torture to have to shoot a bunch of pictures on film with no feedback on how it's coming out then develop the whole roll and see the same mistake repeated 20 times.  It took weeks to get the technique right.  With it digital camera today, it must be fantastic to play with this kind of photography.

« Last Edit: April 16, 2008, 07:35:10 am by Oracle » Logged

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I designed a good high speed one that uses either A) a laser, B) a sound sensor, or C) a contact switch and it worked wonderful (I did not takes shots with the arduino one yet, but I tested it... so I dont know about lag (should not be a problem, but it does allow for controlled timing)
well, I cant find the code at the moment, but here are the basics: setup sets pin 13 (LED) as output (it is the ready light), and pin 2 as a output (it triggers the SCR for the flash unit), pin 4 as an input, and it waits for the pin to close with ground to trigger the SCR on pin 2 [this is the contact switch], pin 7 is also an input connected to a photo diode, so when a laser hits it the pin can conduct to ground, and when the laser beam is broken it does not conduct (or, you can use a transistor or relay and WAIT for the pin to be able to flow to ground), pins 8 and 12 are connected to normally open buttons, allowing for delay settings (when connected to the computer, it would show on the serial output how many microseconds it would last)... then lastly is an analog input that uses a microphone [or piezo unit, like my preference] to trigger at a certain threshold...
oh well, the above is almost meaningless until I find the code... I used a flash drive to store it, and I left it at school somewhere : - (
but hey, nothing private was on it smiley-kitty

also, it is possible to get results immediately for high speed if instant film is used, and you can apparently get high grade (and yes, I know Polaroid does not make it anymore)... but it is hard to find a moderately priced digital that can respond fast enough.
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oh well, the above is almost meaningless until I find the code... I used a flash drive to store it, and I left it at school somewhere : - (
but hey, nothing private was on it smiley-kitty

Store the files on your HD *and* back them up to the flash stick.

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also, it is possible to get results immediately for high speed if instant film is used, and you can apparently get high grade (and yes, I know Polaroid does not make it anymore)... but it is hard to find a moderately priced digital that can respond fast enough.

I didn't want to get beyond the scope of this forum, but I actually used a hassleblad 120mm camera.  I did do some testing with a polaroid back I borrowed from a friend, but at $2.50 a shot, it was an expensive learning process.  And that was the high grade stuff you're talking about, multi-layers you pull apart instead of the cheap plastic square with the white bottom most people think of when they hear polariod.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2008, 05:28:35 pm by Oracle » Logged

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Ah, the wonders of film!  While I don't shoot any of the pricey medium or large format stuff, I prefer the look of my black and white 35mm tri-x film over what my digital can give me.  The thing is if I'm shooting my film I want to develop it and print it myself  and that takes so much time I rarely do it anymore.
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Ah, the wonders of film!  While I don't shoot any of the pricey medium or large format stuff, I prefer the look of my black and white 35mm tri-x film over what my digital can give me.  The thing is if I'm shooting my film I want to develop it and print it myself  and that takes so much time I rarely do it anymore.

I prefered Ilford to Kodak but I used to buy FP4 and HP5 film by the 30 meter roll.  I'd shoot thousands of frames a year.  I find it ironic that now that it's so cheap and easy to shoot that many pictures I don't bother.  My digital camera rarely goes outside and my Nikon film SLRs are what I use.  And before you think I'm a technophobe, read some of my other posts here, most of my life revolves around high-tech.

I don't devlop my own films anymore though, as you say it takes too much time and costs a lot more than it used to, I kind of miss it.  Have you used any chromagenic films (black and white films that are C-41 process)? I've been really enjoying Ilford's XP2 over the past few years.  It costs under $4 to develop at costco with a complete set of proofs and I love the high contrast.  I believe Kodak makes one too, though they maybe have discontinued it along with their other B&W films.

I don't really enjoy photography since digital took over.  I have 15 year old pictures I remember spending half an hour composing until it's just the perfect shot.  Today the technique is just shoot a hundred pics, take the best one, and crop it.  I remember when we used to take pride in printing the full frame including sprockets to prove we didn't have to crop.

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I have done some of that chromagenic (although I didn't know it's name).  I thought it looked about the same as digital shots that I got printed at a good online store with a specialized b&w printer. I think my eyes are used to a certain film/paper combination and they just like that look.  That said they don't like it enough to make me set down my digital most of the time because to me digital is just so convenient.  Maybe someday when I'm older and better at photography I'll use film more often again.

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I use film, and develop it myself, still, as I don't want to shell out the money for the kind of camera I would need (though, after some of the money I have been getting for my shots, I might consider it while still keeping film b/c I like the process). I have a Canon AE-1, old I know, but it does the trick just fine...
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it is hard to find a moderately priced digital that can respond fast enough.

Actually, any Canon camera compatible with CHDK (http://www.chdk.wikia.com) can do 1/60000 shutter speeds (sufficient for high-speed photography) and can be controlled via a quick 5V pulse over usb (which you CAN trigger from an arduino).
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it is hard to find a moderately priced digital that can respond fast enough.

Actually, any Canon camera compatible with CHDK (http://www.chdk.wikia.com) can do 1/60000 shutter speeds (sufficient for high-speed photography) and can be controlled via a quick 5V pulse over usb (which you CAN trigger from an arduino).

interesting... that is fast enough for some of my shots, and it means I can do them in daylight!
but on the page it specifies that is the FLASH speed is 1/60,000, and the shutter is around 1/10,000... than means it is NOT fast enough for some of the ones I plan to attempt...  but can that takes sequential shots?
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interesting... that is fast enough for some of my shots, and it means I can do them in daylight!
but on the page it specifies that is the FLASH speed is 1/60,000, and the shutter is around 1/10,000... than means it is NOT fast enough for some of the ones I plan to attempt...  but can that takes sequential shots?

That is interesting, maybe it's time to shop for a cheap used canon to hack.

Another effect I like though is to fire the flash several times to get a multi-effect  IIRC, The Nikon F4 could do this with a control back, and I know the F801 could.
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This CHDK thing is very cool.  I read that page pretty closely and it does some very cool things, but I don't think it will do everything people here seem to be assuming it will do.  First if you have a shutter speed of 1/60,000 you will need external light (ie flash) because daylight will not provide enough light.  Second I'm not sure they can instantly trigger a shutter actuation.  By this I mean that while the shutter speed is 1/60,000 of a second, it might take a few milli-seconds from when you send the 5 volt signal over usb until when the shutter actually triggers.  The reason I think this is because they never claim the usb 5 volt trigger causes an instant shutter actuation, and if I had managed to get this to happen I'd be sure to point it out since it's a huge selling point.  If anyone knows this usb trigger does cause an instant shutter actuation please let me know.

Oracle, I know that my Canon 580ex flash lets you do the multiflash effect that you were talking about.  It is a very cool toy to play with.
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Here's my attempt : http://hmmtheresanidea.blogspot.com/2008/05/fairly-high-speed-photography.html

Got some quite nice pictures smiley

I'm going to work on the microphone bit soon.

Cheers,
Chris
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Nice job Chris!  I really like the idea of using a potentiometer to adjust the delay.  Nice and simple, but very effective.
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