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!
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:
- 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
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.
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.
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.
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
What Could Be Improved
- Better performance outdoors
- Longer release of the smoke for a more powerful effect
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?