If you ever wanted to shoot wildlife, lightning or fun stuff like drops bouncing off a surface, the Captur system from Hahnel, the Irish manufacturer of peripherals for photographers, fits your needs. With a Captur Remote Control set and the Captur Module Pro, you can remotely control your camera and speedlights, and trigger either using sound, light, infrared, laser beam or other sensors. It’s an incredibly fun way to be creative, and it allows you to take shots that would otherwise be impossible. More importantly, it has features you only expect in systems that are much more expensive.
Hahnel’s reputation is built on developing good quality photographic equipment for an affordable price. Take for example their Giga T Pro II wireless intervalometer. Whenever I need to choose between the Giga T Pro and the Promote Control, I inevitably reach for the Hähnel. It’s much quicker to set up, it’s wireless, and unlike the Promote, it just works.
The Captur system is Hähnel’s latest offering. It is a modular remote control system working in the 2.4GHz bandwidth. It has a 100m range. The longest distance of 40m I could test it with worked fine. Captur Remote Control also has a special technology to avoid any interference and I found that to work really well. You can start with the transmitter and receiver and then add a trigger module afterwards. The Captur Remote Control comes with a camera shutter control cable, so you need to select your camera first. There are cables for Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Panasonic or Sony. The Remote Control transmitter works either as a handheld wireless or wired remote. It controls your camera or acts like a remote on-camera flash trigger. I tested the system with my Sony Alpha 700 and a hotshoe adapter, and it works well, even with half a dozen potentially interfering devices running in the same room.
While the basics work brilliantly, the fun starts when you expand the basic system. There’s an an intervalometer, called the Captur Module Timer, as well as a more sophisticated Capture Module Pro. This module has built-in sensors as well as an intervalometer, and an AUX port for external sensors. It comes with an infrared transmitter module in the box. You should only buy the Captur Module Timer if you’re absolutely sure you’ll never get into sensor-based photography.
The Hahnel Captur Module Pro
All of the Captur modules run on two AA batteries, but the Module Timer and Captur Module Pro devices can also run on external power via a 5V adapter using the built-in micro-USB port. Both the Module Pro controller and IR transmitter (see here how to use its High/Low settings) are packed inside a removable rubber protection enclosure. The entire system is quite robust and will withstand professional use well.
The Captur Module Pro has sensors for laser, light, sound and infrared. Except for sound and light, the system is designed to trigger either your speedlights or your camera. Usually you will set the camera to expose for five seconds or so and use flashes to freeze motion in time whenever the beam is broken.
I tried this with the laser sensor, with marbles bouncing off the floor. You can change the sensitivity of the sensor, as well as set a delay in hundreds of seconds before it triggers. You can also set a length for the burst or bulb exposure. Really brilliant is that you can combine the intervalometer with the sensor being triggered. When set up appropriately, instead of just taking one shot or a burst, the camera cycles through the interval you’ve previously set.
The intervalometer has the same capabilities as the Giga T Pro II. It supports long exposure and the ability to use two nested intervals. Finally, if you have external sensors or know how to make them, the AUX port allows you to expand the Captur Module Pro even further. If you want to see for yourself, do visit Hahnel’s Youtube Channel and look for the video covering the AUX port. It’s a professional photographer explaining how it works and I used his advice with regards to setting up the exposure, delays, etc, to try out the Module Pro’s capabilities.
Oh, and the menu system is actually quite simple to navigate.
As I said in the introduction, the Captur system allows for fun and creativity, and enables you to explore photographic realms that you can’t without some sort of trigger mechanism. I’m happy to say that, while the Captur system will definitely please pros, it doesn’t come with the price tag you’d expect from a professional tool. A Captur Transmitter/Receiver set costs about €79.00, the Hahnel Captur Module Pro costs about €130.00.
APPENDIX FOR THE TECHNICALLY MINDED: The Captur’s Channel Matching technology
The Captur system works in the 2.4GHz bandwidth, as many devices do these days. Captur, however, is special in that works with Open Channel Matching (OCM) and Digital Channel Matching (DCM). OCM is the factory setting, meaning any Captur transmitter will work with any receiver.
This implies that any transmitter can trigger any receiver — all receivers will be triggered by any one particular trigger. The open channel is a digital code which still avoids interference of other 2.4GHz signals. However, the open channel may not be suitable when different sets of Captur products are used close to each other, since one would trigger the other — for example: two photographers working together but wanting to use their own lighting equipment.
DCM allows you to set up the product with a specific digital code which only allows the items that have been DCM’d to work together — for example: you might DCM a Captur transmitter and several, but not all, receivers. This avoids interference from 2.4GHz signals as well as from other Captur products within range. It is the most reliable way to bind a set of Captur products. A set which is DCM’d can be DCM’d again to add or remove devices. The products will remain DCM’d even if you remove the batteries.
I tried this by experimenting with the light sensor. I wanted to see if I could trigger the camera at the precise moment I would light a match. For this to happen, I DCM’d the first receiver connected to the camera with the Captur Module Pro and the second with the Transmitter that was mounted on the camera. The camera fired the second receiver that triggered my speedlight, while the Module Pro’s sensor fired the receiver that triggered the camera. It took a bit of guesswork finding the sensitivity setting the sensor would need, but it worked out fine as the image of the lighting match shows.
The Captur system does not have a group triggering system, though. A Captur receiver is compatible with Hähnel’s “Viper” flash system which does deliver a group flash triggering system. If you purchase a Captur and want to advance into wireless group flash triggering, you can upgrade to the “Viper” and still use the Captur receivers you purchased earlier.