Should You Use Infrared or Laser When Shooting Motion?

Author: Jeff Cox

I have used the Nero trigger’s laser function for photographing birds, especially humming birds. With the Nero you can set the threshold, a delay in milliseconds and how many frames to take each time the beam is disrupted.  A laser pen is required but not provided. The laser beam must be lined up exactly to the little senor on the module. Lining up the pen’s laser beam with the Nero module I place the pen first, making sure it won’t move. Then put the Nero module on a light stand so it can be adjusted easily. With the pen turned on I put my hand in front and follow the path to the module on the light stand. Now I can adjust the stand as needed. Make sure  the laser beam is pointing to the side of the bird or animal that will not show in the photo. Anything breaking the beam will trigger the camera. It should also be noted that any movement of either the laser or module will also trigger the camera and you will have to reline both again. Its best to do when there is little or no wind or where birds or animals can’t sit on either part.

It should also be noted the Nero also has these features: lightning, sound and time-lapse and HDR.

My newest toy is the CAPTUR module pro by Hahnel. The main reason for getting this was the infrared feature. There are two parts; the control module and the infrared module. Both can be screwed in a tripod or a light stand. Setting up is easy. Turn the control and select IR setting you will get a small red light. Next arrange the IR module some distance from the control and turn it on.  With IR module pointing in the general direction of the Control its red light should turn to green. The green light indicates the control is receiving the IR signal. . In the IR model you can setup a delay before shooting starts, set a shot count, and duration of burst/exposure with continuous/bulb.

You will need to purchase a 2.5 mm cable for your type of camera you have.  (these are sold separately). I also have an extension cable and adaptors (2.5mm to 3.5mm). I use the extension cable so that the camera doesn’t have to be close to the control module. So far I’ve only tried the IR setting without making any other changes. Since the modules are not aligned perfectly when either sensor is blocked the camera will fire. This is much easier that aligning the laser. My first trials with this was setting each module on either side of a bird feeder or bird bath. The photos below were the results. I cropped them to emphasis what I liked most and to show scenes I couldn’t taken any other way.  Oh, be sure to set the number of exposures you would like. I forgot and left the setting on infinite and filled my card without realizing it. We have active bird feeders.

Some birds will enjoy the bath while others do the splashing.

The CAPTUR module will also do sound, time lapse, light/lightning, and laser modes. Each mode can be controlled  similar to the IR mode. It is comparable to the Nero trigger both are alike with some of the functions but the setting are different on each device. For the price difference the CAPTUR module pro is a much better deal.

I should probably mention a Vello device also uses IR.  But, it doesn’t work as well because it appears almost anything triggers the camera.  The IR covers a huge area and any little movement with set it off.  I found that I couldn’t count on the Vello to be reliable.

In conclusion the infrared is a better way to capture motion than using a laser. This is just a brief explanation of how I used infrared to remotely capture birds.

Jeff Cox is a trip leader for Arizona Highways Photo Workshops.