This is my review of the MK Controls Lightning Bug Camera Trigger. This review includes real world examples of shots I have taken with the Lightning Bug trigger. So to begin the review, what is the Lightning Bug trigger and what does it do?
What Is The Lightning Bug Camera Trigger?
The Lightning Bug camera trigger trips the shutter of the camera, allowing you to capture lightning photos. According to the MK Controls website, the camera trigger works by using a photodiode to detect the infrared pulse emitted by a lightning flash as it vaporizes air molecules and water molecules. This detection activates the trigger to trip the shutter of your camera and capture the lightning bolt.
The Lightning Bug mounts via the hot shoe of most DSLR cameras. It has a tension ring to tighten the trigger to the camera when mounting. I found it was very easy to mount the trigger to both my Canon 70D and 5Ds cameras. The connection of the trigger to the camera is achieved using a cable that plugs into the left side of the lightning bug and connects to the camera’s remote plug. The manufacturer provides cables to fit most cameras. Just be sure to order the cable that fits your particular camera brand and model.
To use the trigger, first, you remove the rear battery cover and insert one 9 volt battery. The trigger has a lighted scale on the top of the unit. It has a small lightning symbol on the top right that lights up when the unit detects a lightning flash. It also has 3 weather-sealed buttons for adjusting the settings of the trigger. The left-hand button is the power button, and the right and left arrow buttons are used to adjust the settings. Be sure to read the manual that comes with the trigger. You can adjust the sensitivity, the number of shots per second, etc. In my testing, I prefer the sensitivity setting one bar below maximum. This does capture a lot of shots where the lightning bolt is inside a cloud, but it assures I don’t miss any visible lightning bolts. My setting for shots per second is 5. This allows multiple images and catches some strikes that repeatedly flash several times. Here are some shots that were taken with my Lightning Bug Trigger:
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention safety when using this device or shooting lightning in general. Lightning is dangerous and unpredictable. Always keep your safety in mind. A great shot isn’t worth your life. My safety precautions include always remaining undercover when shooting. If I am traveling to a spot to shoot, I remain in my vehicle once my lightning app indicates lightning within 20 miles. I also use a composite tripod to lessen the chance of a lightning strike on my camera. Believe me, on more than one occasion I have had a lightning strike close enough to my vehicle to make me recite a few choice words not fit for mixed company!
I recommend the Lightning Bug Camera Trigger from MK Controls for any photographer who is serious about capturing great lightning shots. I recently purchased a second one for my backup camera to allow me to cover more of the sky. The Lightning Bug is easy to set up, has a small learning curve, and works great after initial setup. Battery life is long if you turn it off or remove the batteries between shooting sessions. When I lived in Florida for several years when lightning is common, I only changed the batteries once in an entire year.
If you want to learn more and take your photography journey to the next level, you might like the Photography Master Class. This video course will definitely help you on your journey to be a better photographer.
Check out more great photography tips on our Photography Tips & Tricks page.
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