Hähnel Captur and Hähnel Captur Module Pro review

Don’t like unnecessary cables attached to your camera? Hähnel doesn’t either. That’s why they developed the Hähnel Captur and Captur Module Pro. Two smart extensions for your camera that allow you to control your camera wireless. Beside taking pictures wireless the Captur and Capture Module Pro have a lot of extra functions. In this review I’ll tell you more about both the Captur basic kit and the Module Pro.

Hähnel Captur review

The Captur and Captur Module Pro are two separate accessories, where the Capture Module Pro is an extension of the ‘normal’ Captur basic kit. It only works together with that basic kit. You can buy the Captur basic kit for different camera models, there are different versions for Nikon, Canon, Sony and Olympus / Panasonic they all cost about 80 euro’s. The Captur Module Pro isn’t brand specific and costs about 130 euro’s, but can only be used in combination with the Captur basic kit.

Klik hier om de Nederlandse versie van deze review te lezen op het blog van Degreef & Partner.

The Hähnel Captur (basic kit)

The Captur basic kit consists of two parts, the receiver and the transmitter. The transmitter has got a flash hotshoe, a two stage shutter release button (press half to focus, full to release the shutter) and a LED that lights up red if the unit is active and turns green when a signal is sent or received.

The receiver has got a flash hotshoe mount (without contacts, it’s just to mount the receiver on top of your camera), an own flash hotshoe to mount your speedlight on top of the unit, and the same shutter release and LED as the transmitter has. On the bottom of the receiver you’ll also find a standard tripod mount to mount the unit to a tripod. You can add extra receivers to the set to use multiple speedlights, those are about 45 euro’s a piece.

Hähnel Captur review

Both the receiver and transmitter have dual functionality as you can use them two ways. You can mount the transmitter to your camera hotshoe, with the transmitter making contact with your camera with a single contact on the hotshoe mount. In that case you can use the transmitter to wirelessly activate a speedlight up to 100 meters away. When you take a photo the transmitter sends a signal to the receiver, that activates the speedlight. You can’t use iTTL (or pTTL as Sony calls it), so you have to set your speedlight manually.

The second option is mounting the receiver on your camera and linking it to the camera using the supplied cable (the Sony version of the Captur is supplied with a micro-usb wire). The transmitter turns in to a wireless remote, to activate the camera wirelessly. Because the Captur has got a two stage shutter realease you can still focus first and release at just the right time. Because the receiver has got a hotshoe you can still mount your speedlight on top of the receiver, while the receiver is mounted to your camera. You do have to remember that you still don’t have iTTL when attaching the speedlight to one of the Captur units.

Both units are powered by to AA batteries (supplied in the kit) and because the units are quite compact they’ll easily fit your camerabag.

Functionality of the Captur basic kit

The Captur has got two basic functions:

  • Wirelessly using your camera to take a photo;
  • Wirelessly activating your speedlight to use it off-camera.

Both functions have a range of about 100 meters (outside) because it uses 2.4 GHz wireless technology. Some cameras and speedlights have wireless functionality built in, so why use a Captur to do that? The big advantage of the Captur is that you can use it to activate about every type of speedlight, as long as the speedlight has got a ISO hotshoe. That means you aren’t limited to using speedlights of the same brand as your camera is. Besides that the range of the Captur set is way bigger than built in wireless technology. For instance Nikon recons the range it’s wireless technology is about 10 meters, so the Capturs range is about 10 times longer.

While using the Captur for this review I’ve use my own Nissin i40 (a Sony specific model) without a problem. But I’ve also used a Nikon SB700 without a hitch. That means you are very flexible in using the Captur with all kinds of speedlights.

Hähnel Captur review
The Captur receiver mounted on a Joby Gorilla Pod with the Nissin i40

Hähnel Captur Module Pro

The Captur Module Pro is an extension to the basic Captur kit, and it can only be used together with the basic kit. The Module Pro kit is a remote (with an LCD-screen) and an IR-module. Both the Module Pro and the IR-module have a detachable rubber protector to protect them from damage. And both use AA-batteries that are also supplied in the package.

The Module Pro has got a wide range of built in sensors. The unit has got an IR-sensor, light / laser sensor and a sound sensor. Besides that the unit has the option to use external sensors. And on the back of the Module Pro there is a tripod mount.

Hähnel Captur review

On the front of the Module Pro you’ll find the clear, white-lit LCD-screen. The screen is big enough and because of the light you can even use it in the dark. Below the screen there are just a few buttons to set the unit. The Captur Module Pro has got the same dual fase shutter release button as the Captur transmitter and receiver to activate your camera wirelessly.

The IR-module is quite basic. It’s got a IR sender, an on/off switch and a tripod mount. On top of the unit there is a single switch to set the brightness of the IR sender, so you can increase it in bright condition or when you want to use it over a longer range.

Hähnel also has got the Captur Timer, that looks just like the Module Pro, but doesn’t have all the sensors the Module Pro does have and doesn’t come with the IR-module. The Timer does have all the timer-functionality as the Module Pro, so you can use it for timelapses etc. The Timer costs 60 euros.

Functionality of the Captur Module Pro

The Captur Module Pro has got a lot of functions:

  • Time lapse photography. The Module Pro has got an advance timer function that allows you to take photos for time lapse videos. You set the amount of photos the Module Pro has to take (maximum of 999 in one set), how many sets you want it to start (maximum of 999 consecutive sets, so with 999 photo’s in 999 sets you can set it to take almost a million photo’s), and you can set how much time the Module Pro has to wait between the photos. The delay can be set from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds in steps of one second.
  • Long exposure, where you can activate your camera without even touching it so there is no risk of camera shake. You can use the bulb setting or set a predefined duration.

The Module Pro can also be triggered by using one of the built in sensors:

  • Taking a photo based on movement, by building a triggertrap using the IR-module on one side and the Module Pro on the other side. When the IR-beam is broken the Module activates your camera. That can for instance be used for taking photos of shy animals.
  • Taking a photo based on changes in the light. You can use that to take a photo whit a lightning flash or when a light goes on or off. You can adjust the sensitivity of the sensor yourself.
  • Take a photo when a laser beam is cut off (with an laserpointer for the laser beam). You can use this function to photograph falling drops.
  • Take a photo based on sound. Here you can also adjust the sensitivity so you can choose if you want the Module Pro to activate on a loud bang or a soft ‘ssst’. You can for instance use this function to take a photo of a popping balloon.
  • Take a photo based on an externa sensor. The Module Pro has got an auxiliary port you can use for all kinds of external sensors.

When using the sensors in the Module Pro the sensitivity can be adjusted in small steps van 0 to 99. You can also adjust the delay, so you can control how long the Module Pro waits after the sensed situation before activating your camera. Delay is set in small increments of 1/100th of a second. You can also choose how many images should be taken after the activation, and you can limit the times the sensor can be activated. All in all you have a lot of control over the way the Module Pro interacts with your camera.

Despite all of the options and modes Hähnel managed to keep the controls quite simple. You’ll probably have to pick up the manual the first time you want to use the Module Pro, but after that it is quite simple. Chapeau Hähnel.

Using the Captur and Captur Module Pro

For this review I’ve tested the functions of the Captur set. I’ve used the Captur basic kit to fire my flash wireless, which isn’t possible with the Sony A7 alone as it doesn’t have an built in flash commander. With the Captur this worked without a flaw. One drawback is that the unit doesn’t support wireless pTTL-functionality meaning you have to set your flash manually. It would have been nice if wireless pTTL was available, but using wireless flash I always want more control over the flash intensity than when using the flash mounted to my camera so even if it was possible I’d probably still set it manually. But it is something you have to keep in mind, and decide if that is a problem in your situation.

I’ve also used the Captur basic kit to wirelessly activate my camera. Because of the good range of the Captur this works flawlessly. In the past I’ve used an IR-remote but that was a less reliable option. Especially in bright sunlight my IR-remote would sometimes stop working on distances of more than one meter. Because the Captur works with reliable 2,4 GHz wireless technique it works in about every situation and over long distances.

I’ve also been using the Module Pro and have tested most of the sensors. Using the Module Pro with the supplied IR-module was very easy. The IR-module also has an switch to boost the output, making it more reliable in difficult situations with bright (sun) light. Unfortunately the Module Pro has more sensors and options than I had photo-opportunities to use them. I did use the Time Lapse timer and used the laser-option to photograph drops. In that case you use the the Module Pro in combination with the Captur receiver on your camera to receive the signal of the Module Pro.

I’ve used the Time Lapse timer to shoot several videos. It was a first for me, but using the Captur Pro it’s very easy to create a Time Lapse video. You set the desired number of frames and the time between the photos and push start. Your camera will start shooting conform the set parameters. After shooting you can use software on your PC to turn all the images in to a Time Lapse video (I’ve used Photoshop CC to create the following video).

Besides the Time Lapse function I have been playing with photographing falling drops. I’ve seen magnificent examples of drop-photography using the Captur Module Pro in a professional studio. And while those results may look impossible to create as an amateur with limited gear I did manage to realiser some quite nice results with the Captur. Using the Captur receiver, the Captur Module Pro, a laser pointer, a plastic bag with a small hole in it that was filled with water, a big glass bowl and two tripods (one for my camera and one for the plastic bag) I was able to create the following images.

U have to use the laser pointer to create a laser beam that is  pointe at the light sensor of the Captur Module Pro. As soon as the Captur Module Pro detects a break in the laser beam it activates the camera. The sensor is very sensitive to changes in the light, so even a small drop passing through the beam is enough to activate the camera. By playing with the delay (in 1/100th of a second increments) you change the look of the drop falling in the water. Because of the simple controls of the Captur Module Pro it is easy to play with the settings to get the desired look.

Hähnel Captur review

Hähnel Captur review

Hähnel Captur review

Making the drop photos I was impressed with how small the delay of the Captur in combination with my Sony A7 is. When I set the delay to 0 ms I didn’t even get a drop in my photo as it hadn’t even reached the water yet. I’ve used a Micro Nikkor 105mm Macro lens via an adapter to shoot the images which works without delay on the A7. Using an original Sony E-mount lens there was a little extra delay (about 2/100th of a second). With the precise control the Module Pro gives you over the delay it was no problem adjusting it to match the camera.

Conclusion

The Captur basic kit and Captur Module Pro are great accessories for your camera. You can experiment with all the different options being limited mostly by your own imagination. The fact that this, non-Sony, set works so well with my Sony camera was surprising. There was no miscommunication between the Captur and my Sony. The controls of both the Captur basic kit and the Module Pro are simple and easy to use, especially when taking in account the wide range of settings and options they offer. Both the Captur basic kit and the Module Pro come in complete sets with the needed batteries and the Module Pro even comes with a rubber protector to protect your new gear from damage. All in all a recommended set for people looking to expand their photographic options.

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