A few months ago, I was lucky enough to be contacted by Matt over at Vela Labs after backing the Vela One high speed flash on Kickstarter. He asked me if I would like to test his newest prototype product, which later became the Vela Pop. Of course, I agreed without hesitation.
The idea behind the product started when Triggertrap’s Ada project became no longer viable due to higher than expected manufacture and production costs.
Matt had already made himself a low cost, low latency sound trigger which he was using for testing the Vela One pre-production prototypes, but he expanded its functionality, adding a plastic case, rubber cover, and a longer delay between triggering, amongst other things.
When the unit arrived in the post, I was surprised by the small size of the Vela Pop. My initial impressions were very good. A slick looking product designed for one thing in mind; high speed photography.
I immediately set to work, testing the unit with my flash and trying to compare it to my older sound trigger; a Triggertrap v1.
After a few software niggles were fixed with the device not turning off correctly and randomly restarting, a new one was sent out to me and I had what seemed the final prototype version in my hands.
The Vela Pop seemed much more reliable, it triggered when I needed it too and is much more user friendly due to its simple controls. It also seems faster than the Triggertrap Ada prototype that was being developed and tested during my time at Triggertrap at the end of 2014.
The device has two rotatable pots, one for the sound sensitivity and another for adding a delay; and finally an on / off button. That’s it, no complicated menus, no fancy screens, and most importantly, no screwdriver needed for battery replacement.
Talking of batteries, it takes a single CR2032 watch battery, which makes the device very low powers and last an eternity’s worth of use.
I was using it as often as I could and sending the resulting images back to Matt. I was using it to trigger a single flash, an Yongnuo YN-560II, when Matt kindly asked if I would like to be there first person to test the Vela Pop with its older cousin, the Vela One. Now, having pre-ordered a Vela One, I wasn’t going to turn down the opportunity to get my hands on a prototype before anyone else.
The flash arrived and I set about using it for the weekend. I’ve never seen so much mushed up fruit before. Before you ask, most of the fruit I used was already out of date, didn’t taste very nice or had gone off. I also shot at some chalk, lollipops and some paint covered balloons. I was having varying degrees of success. Getting the correct time delay was the trickiest issue I encountered, bit with a bit more trial and error, my luck was improving, and the photos got better; until I changed the subject.
Before I started, there were a few issues though, during the Vela Ones time in the hopeless Royal Mail post system, a screw had become loose, and needed to be removed before I powered up the capacitors in the flash. The other issue was a cosmetic one, the printed plate with the flash count settings was printed incorrectly. It said “1/2,1,2,5,4,5” rather than “1/2,1,2,3,4,5”.
Spot the very silly mistake (caught just in time). pic.twitter.com/7OtYgztc1z
— Vela Labs (@VelaLabs) May 5, 2015
As it turns out, I had spotted the mistake just in time as Matt was able to amend the documents that had been sent to the manufacturers and get them change before they were produced incorrectly on a mass scale!
Unfortunately, the time had come to pack the Vela One back up in its hard case and send it back. Until next time, farewell my friend.
Here is a sample gallery of the images I took for Matt. Some are final images that Matt used, others were to show a work-in-progress concept, which I have I’ll explore further when my final Vela One flash arrives later in the year. I’ll also have a full review and hands on guide to go with it.
For now, if you want to see my current high speed photography setup visit my blog post here!