Pocket-Sized Smoke Machine? Fstoppers Reviews MicroFogger!

Pocket-Sized Smoke Machine? Fstoppers Reviews MicroFogger!

Would you consider a pocket-sized smoke machine as an additional piece of equipment? Take a look at our review of MicroFogger, a portable fun gadget that creates smoke on the go!

I’ve never really been very keen on various photography gadgets but I was quite excited to test out MicroFogger, a compact smoke machine sold by Workshop Science, to see how would I implement it in my style of photography. As someone who photographs primarily people, this was a fun experiment! 

Black smoke machine on a windowsill.

Setting It Up

First things first, MicroFogger, which resembles a vape box in terms of its size and look, currently retails as £84.99 on Workshop Science website for packages including a fog liquid, and it comes with the following contents: 

  • MicroFogger
  • Spare heating coil
  • 3ml tank filling syringe
  • USB charging cable
  • Instruction manual
  • Plastic bottle with 50ml of fog liquid (if selected), which is a food grade vegetable glycerin

Small smoke machine and its contents on a table.

First Use And Impressions

Initial set up consists of priming the heating coil to prevent future damage to the unit, as outlined in the user manual, and isn’t complicated at all. Make sure you do this step before jumping straight into using it on a shoot, though! Also, read the safety guidelines to ensure you're using the product correctly and don't let the heating coil overheat through lack of liquid in the fluid tank as it will damage the product and potentially release toxic fumes.

To turn MicroFogger on, you have to quickly press the main switch five times, until the small display lights up indicating that the gadget is turned on. After that, all you have to do is press the main button down and hold it to release the smoke for up to ten seconds before it stops. Simple! The two smaller buttons on MicroFogger allow you to adjust the power, going up to 80W as a maximum. I found the optimal amount and power of the smoke to be between 40W and 80W, depending on what you’re using it for.

Smoke machine releasing smoke on a windowsill.

If you’re using it on a shoot, you don’t have to worry about turning it off and on all the time, you can simply put it down and it’ll go in a sleep mode automatically. I didn’t realize this at first until two days later when I found my MicroFogger to be still in the sleep mode instead of turned off! When you’re done using it on the day, simple press the main button five times and the screen will indicate that it’s turned off. 

I would definitely recommend you to take the fog liquid and the syringe with you if you intend to use it on a longer shoot as it’s possible that you’ll have to refill it. As for the battery, I found it to last long enough for my light use. The package does contain a USB charging cable so you can charge it up very easily on the go, whether by plugging it into a charger or your laptop if you’re traveling. You can check the battery level on the display.

Shooting With MicroFogger

It is actually a very easy little gadget to use, however, when shooting you have to take in mind the maximum release time of the smoke, which is up to ten seconds, and plan your shoot accordingly. The amount of smoke released is not on par with what you get from a smoke bomb, however, it’s a lot more controlled, direct and as per the manufacturer’s guidelines, the smoke released is non-toxic. Although it does have a smell of sorts, and it will be unpleasant if it gets in your eyes or nose, in that respect it is more versatile than smoke bombs. 

A ginger woman in a leopard print coat.

The directional release of the smoke may work for certain things, such as perhaps using it to add extra effect to images where the subject is smoking, or for certain food shots where a stronger smoke cloud may emphasize the hot temperature of a meal. However, I generally found it to work better for my style of photography by filling my chosen area (indoors) with the smoke several times, and then releasing it once more as I am shooting to create a cloud of mystery and haze.

For portraits or boudoir imagery, it won’t be suitable to have a strong cloud of smoke being released on the camera because it simply looks like a cloud of white in the photograph. Instead, I recommend you or your subject start releasing the smoke before you press the shutter. Wait for it to start filling the room and when the smoke starts traveling around the room, that’s when you start shooting. It takes a while to get used to it but it’s a fun experiment, nonetheless!

I actually enjoyed playing with it around the house and using different subjects. It’s a no-fuss gadget that you can just pop in your bag when you’re heading to a shoot but at the same time it can give you the extra edge of adding something different if it suits the mood and type of the shoot. It took me a while to get used to using it in order to create a satisfying result, but as someone who often uses reflections or prisms, for me it added another dimension to the shot without it looking too artificial. 

I can see this gadget working great for intimate images (especially if sun rays are coming in through the window), portraits where you want to add a night-scene or hazy feel to it, or even couples portraits. Equally, for more product based photography, MicroFogger could be a good alternative addition to food, drink and bar or nightlife photographers, as well as work for still life imagery. 

A portrait of a young woman with tattoos.

I personally prefer to use smoke very subtly but you could make it a more central aspect of your image.

One may argue that the amount of smoke released may not be sufficiently enough to create a bigger scene (or would require several MicroFoggers used at the same time), however, understandably so due to health and safety issues, MicroFogger is limited to release the smoke of up to ten seconds. After that, you let it cool for a brief moment before you can use it again. This is not necessarily a criticism as such, but rather to point out that if you’re looking for something on a more grand scale, you may want to consider more powerful smoke machines.

If you’re unlucky enough to live in windy areas as am I, you’ll struggle to use MicroFogger outdoors. The wind will quickly take away any remains of your smoke before you get a chance to do anything with it. If you get to use this outdoors, I’d love to see how it came out but until then smoke bombs or more substantial smoke devices may be more suitable for outdoors shoots. 

What I Liked

  • Subtle and easily controllable power of the smoke
  • Can be used indoors (unlike smoke bombs)
  • Doesn't leave a long lasting smell
  • Compact size
  • Sufficient battery life
  • Charged up with a simple USB cable

A young woman in a black bodysuit sat on the edge of the bed.

What Could Be Improved

  • Better performance outdoors
  • Longer release of the smoke for a more powerful effect

A close up of a plant.

Conclusion

Overall, MicroFogger is a fun device to use but never forget the safety precautions. It’s a reasonably priced gadget if you can justify the use, especially if you find it suitable for your commercial needs because it’s so easy to take it with you. If you use it in a controlled indoor environment, you can use it to your advantage in different ways, but if your work is primarily outdoors, this may not be the best addition to your kit. If you do, however, test it outdoors, I’d love to see your results! If you want to give MicroFogger a go, head to Micro Science website and put it in your cart! 

How would you use this device?

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27 Comments

Oliver Kmia's picture

Thanks for reviewing this original product.

Martin Peterdamm's picture

seams perfect for having some haze in a scene. normal fogging machines often produce way to much fog

Anete Lusina's picture

Yeah I agree, I think this is quite useful for people who want more subtle effects!

William Faucher's picture

Wow this is cool. I too am curious to see how it performs outdoors.

Anete Lusina's picture

I live in a relatively windy area so I had no chance, but I'd love to see how it looks someplace hot and sunny to add extra haze or add a nice effect maybe in a foresty location either with the sun rays coming through the trees or when it's already a bit misty.

William Faucher's picture

Yeah that is exactly what I thought! If it is a very calm day with little to no wind, in the woods where trees help make the air still, I'm sure it would work wonderfully. Just a little hard to depend on for a paid gig.

David Love's picture

It's a converted vape device. Even the click 5 times to turn on is a vape thing. Save your money and just have some vape and blow it into the shot.

Anete Lusina's picture

I appreciate your comment but I don't think everyone would like to use an actual vape due to health concerns :)

David Love's picture

Plastic bottle with 50ml of fog liquid (if selected), which is a food grade vegetable glycerin

Health concerns? This is the same liquid used in vapes. Other than this they use candy oils (that are used to make candy) and then nicotine which you can get vape juice with 0 nicotine and there is no more health concern than what you see here.

I use a vape machine for this task as it only cost £15. I don’t smoke or vape, never have, never will. Like you I would have concerns about inhaling this to create smoke. I would also feel very uncomfortable blowing a lung full at a model. Instead I use a nasal syringe to extract the smoke from the unit. These are really just little bulb blowers like we would use to clean our cameras but without the rear hole. Using this allows very precise placement of the vapour. It is amazing just how much you can fit in such a small bulb. I use a mixture of 4 parts vegetable glycerin from the chemist to 1 part water. 1 bottle of glycerin will probably last me years. Looking at this unit it is a variable vape machine and a small pump placed in a 3D printed housing. Would be relatively easy to build but tat this price why do it yourself? As it is something I would not use often I will stick to my bulb/vape setup

Patrick Hall's picture

You guys do realize that you can breathe in the vapor into your mouth without actually inhaling it right? You might not get the volume but I doubt there would be any health risk what so ever if you used it like a cigar instead of a cigarette. I still don't think a vap pen would be enough smoke in most instances but maybe this device wouldn't be either.

Yes, but I do not want to. I do. It simply do not want that taste in my mouth. I also don’t think it would be very nice for a model to have a grumpy old fart like me breathing all over them. Control is another issue. Today for instance I was attempting to shoot fungi with my macro kit. Using the blower bulb I was able to inject vapour under the leaf litter giving a great effect. Maybe try using a bulb yourself and see how it goes.

Since last night I have actually designed a 3D printed case to fit my vape machine and a little,pump. It is printing at the moment but it will be quite a range before it is finished. I’ve modified my little vape unit with a connector that gives power to the pump while the button is pressed. It will be interesting for me to see how well it turns out.

Patrick Hall's picture

That's actually what I was thinking about, a little pump that would suck the vaporizer and exhaust it out the other end. Keep us posted on how successful your 3d printed version of this turns out

Will do. The pump only has to pressurise the 3D printed container. A vape unit has the bit you suck on and holes further back that feed in the air. If you make a case that seals those off then pressurise the rear, constant vapour will flow to the mouthpiece. In effect you are just changing the pressure ratio from the rear in holes to the mouthpiece, so no real change from the units intended use. The pump I selected was only £1.38 on the bay of fleas and works from 0.8v to 9v so was ideal. Fortunately I already had one from another project. I have tested the concept already and it works well so far.

David Love's picture

That was my thinking. Smoke lingers, vape vanishes. I appreciate the effort to try and come up with something new being that haze cans are $15 each and smoke machines are overkill sometimes and wash images out.

I was going to say the same thing, I use the base heating portion of this for wax, going to see how well glycerin works with it.

This is still an interesting product and could be a mainstay if it were developed a little further.

I have a $30 shipped smoke machine I got from ebay. I can add a little or a lot of smoke. this above item is good for portability as its wireless. mine needs an outlet. I have connected it to my burgman 650 scooter with an inverter and it works great but I can have a little or a lot when I need it.

William Howell's picture

Dang, that looks cooler than hell.
I like smoke in a photograph and this is tiny enough to keep with you. Maybe not big output, just enough for a head and shoulders picture?

I used vape in a small (30 sq. m) studio and 5 seconds of blowing into vape fills it pretty densely. This may be good enough for full body.

Oh, I like my vape for the fog. Now there is no need to blow inside and it’s great :)

Pete Tapang's picture

pretty cool, I can see this coming in handy

I use the Pea-soup fog machine found here for outdoor work, and it's powered by simple car battery:

http://www.pea-soup.com/mini-rocket.shtml

It has variable output and can be remote controlled. The main downside is cost.

Aww Yeah! That's the best option. Lots of prop houses in LA still rent the modified hand-held crop dusting apparatus, I wish they had this.

Tomash Masojc's picture

look like thing for vaping :D it's easier just to start vape i think

Christian Novak's picture

I recently used "Atmosphere Aerosol". Fog out of a Spray Can. But this sounds interresting