Alpine Labs' Spark Remote Trigger Review
Updated: Mar 16, 2019
This is a review of this product. As of March 2019, this product is "Sold Out." When I bought this product in June 2018, it was $74 with shipping (6 days from purchase to delivery).
(Images from Alpine Laboratories)
Overall: I would NOT recommend this product.
I am a college student who does photography as a hobby. My most prefered photography styles are Long Exposure, Timelapse, and Astrophotography (which requires long exposure and timelapse). I used this product with a Sony a6000 and iPhone 6 Plus and later an iPhone X.
I purchased this remote trigger for two main reasons: timelapse and long exposure. I was unhappy with Sony's lack of a (free) timelapse app and a free app I had found was useable but not feature-packed.
I was definitely woo-ed by Alpine Labs' promotional video and I was inspired enough to shell out $75 dollars for it.
When it came, the packaging was simple but very streamlined and nice. I had no complaints there. I was very excited to use and my first test was a timelapse test of some clouds that I could see from my dorm room. There is a companion phone app for both iOS and Android. Spark connects to the camera with a cable and to the phone via bluetooth.
Connecting Spark to my iPhone was simple but it took a few tries simply because it couldn't find it. Once it connected, setting up the timelapse was simple. I tested it out with a few single shots and it worked fine. A slight delay but nothing unexpected. When I switched to the timelapse menu, this is when things became problematic.
I could set up the timelapse settings just fine. But when I clicked start, nothing happened. No indication of a failure but the camera was not taking any pictures. I clicked again and nothing. Again and again but still nothing. I tried closing the app, restarting the app, turning off my camera, restarting my phone, turning off and on again my bluetooth. Only after about 15 tries, did it finally work, no indication of what change made it work.
Future attempts would prove the same issue. Spark was just very unreliable if a timelapse would start. The issue seemed isolated to timelapses as the other features worked fine (single shot, long exposure, photobooth)
Another issue I had with Spark was the inability to combine long exposure and timelapses, I could only do one or the other. This could be fixed with a simple software update but (as of now) it is not a feature supported. Needing to do astrophotography, the ability to set up my camera to take 60 second exposures every 61 seconds was very important and I was very sad to find out that I could not do it.
On the night of the 2019 Lunar Eclipse, I had Spark attached to my camera and I put my camera in my backpack only to find it broken in half (the top plastic half came off from the bottom plastic half). I tried to keep it together with a rubber band but to no avail. I decided to look for a different remote and ended up purchasing this wonderful remote from Amazon that could do timelapses and long exposures simultaneously.
Spark does have one other feature that I won't spend too much time one. The ability to start timelapses without an app. I didn't use this feature at all because I didn't feel confident that I would be able to set it up properly. With too simplistic feedback using this method, I didn't like it.
My final issue with this product was that it was (theoretically) supposed to work as an IR Remote Trigger that can "trigger your camera’s infrared sensor from up to 30ft away" (Alpine Labs' Website). My unscientific testing of this proved it to be false. I would often be embarrassed when I was in a group and I had proudly told them that I had this cool remote that can take a photo from afar only to have it fail on me and subsequently me needing to set up a delay trigger from the camera itself.
Trouble connecting to phone
Remote Trigger Unreliable
Can't do Timelapse and Long Exposure Simultaneously
Cheap Plastic Build