ZigView S2; Add Live View, Intervalometer, And Motion Sensing To Your D-SLR With This Compact Device Page 2

Intervalometer And Long Exposure Modes
The ZigView comes with a short electronic cable release that connects the device to the camera. You'll need this when using the built-in intervalometer and other functions that utilize the ZigView as a remote trigger. (There is also an optional Transceiver module that gives you a few more feet of working space away from the camera--it may be included in a special promotion--and additional options for even more remote viewing.)

The intervalometer function is well-rounded, with Advanced operation offering the greatest flexibility. You can choose one of three modes, after which the procedure terminates automatically: interval, duration, and number of shots (set two parameters and the third is automatically calculated). There's also a Simple procedure that requires only two settings: interval and number of shots.

There are also two Long Exposure modes (with the camera in Bulb mode), one where you set the time; the other where you simply hold down the button for as long as needed, with a timer showing elapsed time. The benefit here over simply using the camera to time the exposures is that you have the live view.

The ZigView S2 was set to motion sensing, but I used it a bit differently than intended: I handheld the EOS 5D (in Continuous AF mode, with 200mm plus 1.4x extender) and panned, following the soccer ball (1/1000 sec, ISO 400).

Motion Sensing
Now the real fun--and ultimate challenge--comes with motion sensing. Considering that such devices as the Dale Beam and PocketWizard WaveSensor have gone the way of the dodo, the only way to trigger the camera automatically in response to movement is with the ZigView. In contrast to those other devices, which use a photo-optical or audible beam that a moving subject breaks, the ZigView is sensitive to fluctuations in scene contrast, the way some cameras achieve autofocus. In fact, the entire viewing area is your playing field, since motion sensitivity extends from corner to corner, edge to edge.

However, this function does involve some very intricate settings. Understanding what these settings do is not the problem--they'll become clear before too long. The tricky part lies in knowing what values to set so that the right motion triggers the device/camera at the right moment. The manual indicates that for fast-moving subjects you should set a higher value for the motion-sensing interval during which the device compares the brightness values in nine different sectors to a previous level, triggering the camera when a pre-defined (by the user) threshold value is exceeded in one of these sectors. What gets tricky is figuring out this combination of threshold, interval, and delay times that affect motion sensing. You can also limit sensitivity to certain parts of the screen.

I used the Live View mode on the ZigView S2 to capture this monarch butterfly with the EOS 5D and 200mm lens with extender (=280mm), which gave me lots of breathing room. Still, I did have to tightly crop afterward.

But I did pick up on a few things. When I photographed ducks in the pond at New York's Central Park, ripples and the contrasting tonalities that resulted were enough to trigger the camera. So I tried to adjust the settings to make them less sensitive to these surface undulations. I also moved the camera over to an area reflecting skylight, so there was a uniform tonal wash over the water. That seemed to help. The camera was on a tripod for the most part.

You don't always need to wait for the action to come to you, and that also means, you don't always need a tripod to take advantage of motion sensing. As I photographed a soccer game from the sidelines, I immediately learned the benefits of live view: the referee keeps running back and forth, and now I could see him before he bumped into me. But I also uncovered a hidden feature that no other device heretofore provided. As I followed the action, panning the camera, the ZigView's motion sensor tracked my movement and triggered the camera. I no longer had to keep a finger poised on the Shutter button, or worry that I'd hit it a moment too late. The ZigView seemed to trigger the camera when I stopped panning. It wasn't foolproof, but it worked.

I had a 100mm macro and ring flash on my EOS 5D when I came upon this anise swallowtail caterpillar. I manually set focus to life-size and swiveled the live view monitor on the ZigView S2 so I could squeeze the camera into a tight spot. The ZigView really made a difference.

Shooting Macro
One of the clear benefits of the ZigView's Live View mode is that it affords you views you wouldn't ordinarily have, such as peering over people's heads or around corners. But I found a use that was more germane to my photography. I recall having to get down on my belly to photograph a mushroom on the forest floor on more than one occasion. The ZigView would have given me back my dignity and allowed me a more comfortable position.

After photographing the soccer match, I walked over to a nearby garden and came upon several monarch butterflies. Since I only had a 200mm lens with a 1.4x converter with me, I made use of this combo to photograph these sizable butterflies from a distance that wouldn't frighten them. But I'd planned to return with my 100mm macro a few days later.

It was early evening when I returned, and the monarchs had settled in for the night, out of sight. Instead I found a beautiful swallowtail caterpillar sitting on a branch. It was situated in such a position that I would not have been able to get to it ordinarily. But I had the ZigView with me. I attached it to the camera, rotated the monitor to 90Þ or nearly so, set focus to manual for the life-size exposures (automatic focusing for smaller than life-size), carefully moved to and fro to lock in my target--and held steady. A ring flash and f/16 exposure also helped to ensure sharp results.

So, all in all, if I had the time to spend--and I think it's well worth it--I would shoot with the ZigView S2 whenever and wherever possible. I had hoped to use it while whale watching in Nova Scotia, but the fog had settled in and that pretty much settled that. I'd welcome another opportunity, but in clear weather.

Here we see the ZigView S2 used with the Remote Video Transceiver. Photo courtesy Argraph/Francisco Oloriz.

More Info
The ZigView S2 sells for $469.
Distributor: Argraph Corporation, 111 Asia Place, Carlstadt, NJ 07072; (201) 939-7722; www.argraph.com.