Controlling your camera remotely is useful in a variety of situations, from macro photography to group portraits to positioning your camera in places where you can’t comfortably be. While remote controls for cameras aren’t new, the smartphone has made it possible to do a lot more than merely trigger the camera’s shutter. Here are the options for wireless camera control, from simple remotes to more sophisticated smartphone-based controls.
CAMERA MANUFACTURER’S REMOTE
The most basic camera remote, if available from your camera’s manufacturer, essentially will act as a wireless cable release, with the ability to fire the shutter or initiate and end a Bulb exposure (a long exposure during which the shutter remains open until you release it). More expensive models may include timer and intervalometer capabilities.
Though limited, these remotes are useful for group portraits, macro work and situations where it isn’t practical or possible for you to be behind the camera. On the plus side, these remotes are relatively inexpensive and simple to use, and sometimes are even included with the camera. The future of these simple remotes is uncertain, though, with smartphone app control as a feature of more and more new camera models.
If your camera maker doesn’t offer a remote for your model, there are options from PocketWizard, Phottix and others that offer trigger-release capability, some over considerable distances.
For more sophisticated control over your camera, with intervalometer and timer capabilities, Hähnel’s Giga T Pro II wireless remote includes a self-timer, an intervalometer, long exposure and exposure counting. A repeat mode for interval shooting lets you automatically take a specified number of shots at a preset interval, then wait for a second preset interval, before repeating the program, as in "Take five shots, one minute apart, then wait 10 minutes, repeat." This is an excellent feature for time-lapse work.
Hähnel (R.T.S., Inc.)
SMARTPHONE APP-ENABLED CAMERAS
For the best remote experience, nothing beats the smartphone app that gives you a live view from your camera, plus control over camera settings. An increasing number of cameras from several brands are including this capability.
ADDING REMOTE CAPABILITIES
If your camera doesn’t have smartphone connectivity built in, consider a solution like CamRanger. Compatible with most newer Canon and Nikon models, CamRanger not only lets you take full control over your camera settings and shutter with Live View, it includes more capabilities than the typical smartphone remote app, such as an intervalometer mode for time-lapse and exposure bracketing. CamRanger also offers the PT Hub and Motorized Tripod Head, which enable you to adjust your camera’s perspective remotely, too. Create smooth video pans and tilts, get perfect panoramas or use it with CamRanger’s intervalometer for unique time-lapse effects.
If you don’t need Live View, but want the other benefits of remote camera control, Triggertrap Mobile is an inexpensive accessory and app combo that gives you some unique time-lapse and Bulb exposure capabilities, but also a number of innovative ways to trigger your camera, using your smartphone’s microphone to detect sound, for example, or its GPS to take photos based on distance instead of time.
Why Go Remote?
|A Bigger View. Camera LCDs are always getting better, but they never will give you the viewing experience of a tablet. Plus, you can angle your remote device or step into the shade for a better view in bright conditions without changing the camera’s perspective.
Sharpness. Even on a tripod, it’s possible to introduce camera shake simply by depressing the shutter. Remote triggering eliminates that possibility. This is especially useful for macro photography, where the slightest vibration can ruin the shot.
Video. Perfect for recording events like your daughter’s stage debut, you can position your camera for a great view and take your seat in the audience while maintaining control of the camera.
Wildlife. Set up your camera and take cover to get wildlife shots without disturbing your subjects.
Group Photos. Self-timers work for this, but when you’re taking a group portrait with you included, a remote release spares you the sprint to beat the blinking light.
Self-Portraits. Check your composition, lighting and exposure, refine your expression, and get the shot without having to use one hand to hold the camera.
Unique Perspectives. Mount your camera in places you can’t easily be (hanging from the ceiling, the hood of your car, atop a tall pole) and have some fun with new viewpoints.