DSLR Remote review with a Canon 5D Mark II

As stated a few days ago, I bought the DSLR Remote on the day of release, picking the Pro version. For a 8$ difference, I don’t understand how someone could go with the lower-end alternative.

Installation & Setup

On One Software really did a great job to make the setup process as easy as it could be. Basically, all you need to do is  download and install the server application on your computer, plug the camera via USB, start the iPhone app and voila!

Note: If you are like me and dont read instructions, you might be looking for Liveview and the intervalometer for while. They are hidden under the FIRE button. You need to press the FIRE button and hold it for a few seconds to make the options appear. Took me a moment to figure that one out!

Things I liked

1:1 zooming

Being able to zoom in at 1:1 is incredible. It allows you to review shots faster at the press of a button. The problem with the current implementation is that you either zoom at 1:1 or you dont. It is impossible to do fractional zooming like in the iPhone photo app.

Note: you can only zoom after the shot is taken and zooming is disabled in live view.

Liveview

Adjusting the exposure settings from the iPhone and automatically seen the update on the screen is very cool. Well, its like the first time I used liveview but now I can adjust the lights as I am looking at the result on the iPhone. Brilliant!

Time lapse (Intervalometer)

If there is one thing that I hate about Canon bodies, compared to those from Nikon, is how crappy their firmware are. Nikon gives its user more control over bracketing and allow them to set time lapses in ways that are even better than what you can do with the dedicated and over priced Canon remote trigger. DSLR Remote solves part of this issue by giving its user the ability to take X shots (up to 1000) at any given constant interval.

Note: if you activate the bracketing, only one picture will be taken per interval period. My suggestion to the developper would be to add a check box to set the camera to take 3 (or even better, x) consecutive shots per interval.

Things missing / Wish list

Auto focus

You have to prefocus, even the AF button of the 5D can’t be used remotely. Blame it on the Canon API.

Video recording

While I would have been happy with just the ability to press the record button and have the camera starts recording, a more advanced version would be even better. I am thinking here about the ability to zoom while recording. Doing so would transform the iPhone into the perfect follow focus screen. And, while I am at it, what about plugging the iPhone directly into the camera? (On One Software said that is something they plan to explore once the new iPhone SDK is out, cool!).

Adding filters to the live view

This is a follow up to my previous point. If it was possible to have a high pass filter on top of the video preview, it would make follow focusing even easier/better. I doubt the iPhone has enough CPU power to do this but still, everyone is allowed to dream, no? A more realistic request might be to enable/disable zebra mode with the press of a button when shooting pictures.

Big screen mode

Once the parameters are set, the only required button is FIRE. Why not then hide all the other buttons and put the picture full screen? Even better, rotate it according to the orientation of the iPhone.

Bracketing Assistant

I love bracketing. I don’t know how many times it saved me  when shooting outside or in HDR. Unfortunately, DSLR Remote does not offer a bracketing assistant. I would have loved to be able to set it up like the intervalometer: assigning a number of pictures to take and the variation in exposure between each shot. This feature alone would motivate me to bring a laptop in my bag the next time I go in the wild.

Shortcuts to some user made presets

I hate switching my camera settings, even more so if the menu I need to change is deeply nested into the custom functions. Wouldn’t it be great to click on one icon and have all your HDR landscape preferences loaded? Then click another to move into time lapse mode? Of course to be really useful the software would need to be able to access the camera custom functions and I have no idea if it is possible right now…

What I couldn’t test

I wish I had the wireless battery grip to see if it worked. I think it does since it allows tethered shooting but I would love to know if someone has tried it.

Conclusion

Should you get the application? At the current intro price of 10$, it is a no brainer. It is obviously  a very first try and some more iterations will be required to satisfy the more demanding users. Yet, the current version does what it is advertised for, never crashed during the 200+ shots I took and saved me from round tripping between the camera and the light stands while adjusting lights to do some product shots.

I am happy.

Buy DSLR Camera Remote
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Buy DSLR Camera Remote lite
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Btw, there is a trouble shooting document here in case you run into any issues and a FAQ.

About Tommy

Photography allows me to be what I want to be, to be where I want to be, and to do what I want to do ... I'm not professional photographer and I don't need a title, I love to take photographs and that is what I do, I love to learn and I always try to do it better ...
  • http://10100.org sp1te

    I just got it also and its pretty nice, Its a super cheap wireless firing system, if you have a little laptop and an iphone already. I also want a bracketing system and would looooove the ability to plug directly into the camera.

  • admin

    Thanks Peter for the info! I guess it is quite limiting as it is..

  • admin

    Peter, I totally agree with you. I almost picked this battery grip/remote before I realized that it was only using 802.11G.

    Even event shooters might have a hard time to figure out how to use this product given the current specs.

  • admin

    Good list. But I dont know how many people have a WFT so I dont know if it is worth it for them to develop around this product. Still, I am sure some copy cats are going to pop soon and they will have to differentiate themselves from this app.

  • http://jcphotographydallas.com Jason Cypret

    Hey great site! Do you have any details about using the intervalometer? I wanted buy this for time lapse, but what happens if the computer goes to sleep?

    Thanks for the great site!

  • admin

    Jason: I have no idea, but I would simply remove the sleep option from the preference before starting to shoot. I guess the application would stop working other wise.

  • http://jcphotographydallas.com Jason Cypret

    Yeah, not sure it will work for what I want to do. I’m going to pick up this remote timer (recommended by Joe Simon). http://www.dealextreme.com/details.dx/sku.19691

  • admin

    Jason: Wow, never heard of this product! It is very cool and at a very decent price. Thx for the info.

  • Phil Walker

    This is very interesting and I personally hate it when people have a downer on new technology so apologies in advance. The thing that I don’t quite understand is that if you have to connect to a laptop (assuming not everyone has the wft) why not use the much bigger laptop screen to view the image?

    • admin

      Phil: for the cases where you want to see the result of the shot while being away from the computer. I think the best example for this is when placing your lights in a studio. You can see an almost live result of your setup. At least that is what I use it for.

  • Phil Walker

    Thanks for the explanation, I hadn’t thought of the studio application. I guess it’s worth buying just for the intervalometer, not to mention geek appeal! I haven’t noticed any females raving about this yet.

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