The first thing which comes to mind when writing this has to be “why in the world am I taking time out of my schedule to review a $3.22 remote?”
It’s simple, this little infrared remote release is one of the most important pieces of gear to have with you when doing tripod exposures, whether they be long (non-handholdable) or short (easily handholdable). The premise of this remote is pretty simple: make a small rectangular box with an IR emitter that can immediately trip the shutter or delay the shutter by two seconds on an infrared-compatible camera. That’s it. But it’s the simplicity of it that makes it so great.
Let’s look at two real-world scenarios:
First, I want to do an extreme macro shot at 1:.88 magnification on a tripod. To get enough depth-of-field, I have to stop my lens down to f/8. Only problem is, it’s cloudy and the wind is blowing. So my shutter speed, even at ISO 800, is metering at 1/50. The subject is a small crab spider on a Black-Eyed Susan, and the flower is swaying back and forth with the wind, pausing ever so slightly every now and then. If I try to depress the shutter manually, there will be camera shake (due to the magnification). If I try to use the camera’s built-in 2 or 10 second timer, the wind will have moved the subject to a different point in the frame. The only way to get the shot below is to use this remote release at just the right time when the flower paused for a second between wind gusts.
Alright, let’s look at another scenario. I’m over-top an interstate crossing, wanting to do a night-time light-trail photograph of cars zooming by. Obviously I’ll be using a tripod here, as exposure times needed can be as much as two minutes. After arriving on location, I find there is chain-linked fencing covering my view of the road (to prevent people from jumping off). The only way to keep the fence out of the frame is to lean the entire tripod and camera against the fence, with the lens poking through one of the openings (even then, the fence is visible in the bottom-left of the frame). This leads to a lot of instability, so I have to let the tripod stop shaking for many seconds before taking a picture. To time the shot right, I have to trip the exposure just as multiple cars come into the frame. Otherwise, there will be multiple incomplete streaks. Enter the remote release, all I do after setting up the framing is wait for the right moment, and begin the exposure without even touching the camera.
The above examples all used the instantaneous shutter release function. A great scenario (that I haven’t tried yet) to use the 2 second release is for group portraits (with the cameraman in the shot!). The remote has a reliable range of about 15 feet with a good battery (of which it uses cheap watch batteries), and you can push it a little further with good aim. Simply frame your group with room for you, casually walk over, press the 2 second button, hide the remote behind your back, and that’s it! No more timers forcing you to frame and quickly run over to your group in time!
As far as build quality, it’s pretty solid for a cheap piece of plastic. I’ve dropped it on concrete a few times, and it still works just fine. The buttons depress very solidly, so you always know when an exposure will begin. One thing I love about the remote is how many photographs it can trip. I’m going on at least 500, and it shows no signs of dying. HOWEVER, the reason for this is my keeping of the small plastic tab (visible at the bottom of the remote in the product picture) stored in the remote when not in use. In theory, by keeping the battery from touching the contacts, the battery life is being significantly extended. Take that as a tip. 😉
Little accessories like these need to be on your short list for photography. Given their tiny investment, you really have no reason not to pick one of these up. 🙂
That’s all for this short review guys and gals. Thanks for dropping by, and as always, have a great day!
I agree. I bought two of these awhile back Matt, excellent value for sure. The only issue I have on the NEX-7 for it, is that you can’t use it for a burst of shots. Normally you would put the camera on continuous shooting and simply push the button to take a burst (had this feature on the Panasonic G2 for birds shots). Sony in their wisdom have put the wireless feature in with the burst mode in the menu of the NEX. So you can’t have both a burst and use a remote.
Otherwise its excellent for what you saying and showing. Fine shots BTW, both brilliant.
All the best Mat 🙂
That’s a good point Danny. Though I haven’t run into a situation where I have needed that, I can think of more than a few scenarios for your style of shooting. 😉
And thanks, a couple of hold-overs from previous stuff. Macro’s getting addicting Danny, how do you cope with it? 🙂
Excellent piece of kit, Matthew. I recently bought one for the N-7 and paid $2.85 with free post from China to Australia!
I’m sure it comes from the same factory as the one I bought 3 years ago for the Nikon dSLR – it survived a wave filling the two front pockets of my Billingham bag (lying on a beach ) by simply floating to the top.
Well I guess you got an even better deal than me Domnuill. 🙂
I’ve never dropped mine in water (and don’t really plan to), but mine too feels light and airy enough to be buoyant.
I think this is what I need for my NEX-7… but please help me with one thing Matt: when doing long exposures in bulb mode one press of the remote will start the exposure and another press will end it, right? You don’t actually hold the button down like you do with the shutter, correct?
Bingo Tim, one press to start, another to end (in bulb). If you’re doing a REALLY long exposure and you don’t have time for the long exposure NR feature to do its work (it takes a black frame for as long as the initial exposure), make sure you turn it off.