Camera Remote Control

Do you wonder how to control your camera remotely? Either wired or wireless? Let’s take a stroll down memory lane to understand how I came to use the Alpine Labs Spark camera remote. This blog posts takes you through a typical maturation process to discover controlling your camera remotely …

I just bought my camera, how do I control the camera remotely?

“Use the camera’s built-in timer”. Sometimes you make it in time to get in position and many times you don’t. I tried using 3 seconds, 5 seconds, 10 seconds and longer. The longer timer allowed subject(s) to move out of position or get jittery (e.g., kids, dogs, cats, babies, adults!). A better solution had to be somewhere in the marketplace.  Lesson Learned: Find a hands free remote solution that works with my camera.

I just found a device that controls my camera

“Use an infrared remote control with our camera’s timer”. This worked well with my first Nikon camera (D90). It allowed me to be in front or slightly off angle to the camera’s infrared sensor. The infrared remote can in handy when I needed to be in the shot. The photographer “me” had time to position myself with the group, give the “everyone smile …” instruction, then hit the infrared remote control to start the camera’s timer. There was one drawback. Not efficient for landscape or adventure photography. Process #1: I had to point the remote at the camera from behind the camera (awkward arm position); or Process #2: stand in front of the camera then point the remote at the camera to start the timer for the shutter release. This proved too much work in the field when doing landscape, travel, and adventure photography. The photo had I envisioned was not what the camera took. Why? Timer delay. Either a cloud formation moved, or lighting conditions changed, or an unwanted object came into the frame. Lesson Learned: Use the shutter release button on the camera with the timer (… risking camera shake!).

Improvement: Wired Remote Control

“Use a wired remote control”. I attended a photo expedition to Costa Rica. One of the photographers used a Vello wired remote control for his Canon camera for landscape and sunrise/sunset photos. Our instructor stressed having a “stabilized” camera using a sturdy tripod and camera remote if you had one. What I observed was the Canon shooter practically reduced all movement of the camera by using the Vello wired remote control. Lessons Learned: (1) It is good for your photography career to get training offered by professionals. It provides an opportunity to expand your knowledge about photography genres and techniques. (2) Observe, ask questions, and learn from your peer photographers no matter what type of camera they shoot. They may have techniques that you can incorporate into your own camera workflow or in this case camera kit, the Vello wired remote control. I bought one as soon as I got back from Costa Rica from B&H Photo.

Technology Nirvana: Wireless Bluetooth Control

After using the wired Vello remote control for several years with much success I was looking to improve my remote-control photography process when I came upon a company featured on Kickstarter called Alpine Laboratories. What caught my attention about this young company was their creation of wireless camera remotes using Bluetooth technology and your smartphone (iPhone, Android).  Their design was sleek, practical, and user-friendly. Alpine Lab’s device attached to your camera’s hot shoe with a cable connecting to the data port of your camera. I selected the Spark device for my Nikon D850. I was impressed how elegant their design was when I received the Spark camera remote. You can nearly control all the shooting features of your camera with the Spark camera remote. Weighing in at 0.8 ounces, the little device via your smartphone controls long exposure, time lapse, and HDR. I have tested each of these features. I am extremely pleased with the results. The beauty of using the Spark device is the ability to control everything from your iPhone – ISO, shutter speed, and aperture. You download the Alpine Labs “Spark” app from the Apple app store and BAM! You are remotely controlling your camera with your phone.

I recommend going to their website: for more information about their camera remote product line.

Lesson Learned: Look for opportunities to improve your photography technique and photography processes in the field. The improvement can be technical, gear related, or advice from a mentor.

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