When one wants to start experimenting with long exposure night shots, landscapes, self-portraits or even when taking just a few holiday snaps with your folks, one quickly sees the value of such a gadget, especially when you have a not so steady tripod like I do.

Traditionally when using ones’ finger to trip the shutter button minute vibrations are introduced into the equation, which together with mirror slap, a flimsy tripod and external factors like wind turn the vivid picture in the viewfinder into a blurry mess of smeared colours and indiscernible shapes, which is where the Hahnel Pro wireless remote control comes in.

Using the remote as a shutter release in a wireless fashion allows one to cancel out all the negative elements in the picture taking equation and leads to sharper and better composed photos, as using the remote forces one to properly set up ones’ camera and tripod instead of just pulling off a few shots in a hurry.  Being wireless instead of wired like the normal cable releases, it stops one from physically having to operate the shutter button and thus you get less vibration and movement and sharper images.  That being said, one can also use the receiver as a cable release if you don’t want to use the remote.

Your creative opportunities are also increased as you can position the camera just about anywhere and use the radio frequency capabilities of the remote to trip the shutter, be it 80 meters away or even through a wall or two.  This is far superior than the manufacturers own infrared wireless remotes, as they require line of sight with the camera to be operated, don’t work on such long ranges and struggle to work in bright sunlight conditions and the Hahnel, being a generic remote, is also much cheaper than the manufacturers own offerings and it is compatible with most cameras so if you have multiple cameras you don’t end up having to buy multiple remotes as well.

The remote supports auto focus, so with a soft press of the remote button you get a green light which indicates focus is locked and then with a full press the light becomes red which indicates that the photo has been taken.  There is a switch on the remote which changes between immediate release and a 4 second delay so you can keep the camera on single shot and not have to fiddle with settings to get it into the self timer mode and back every time.   The remote supports all the modes on the camera (PASM) and any other preset modes that are available.  It works with the cameras auto focus or manual focus systems, live view, auto exposure and bulb mode.  It will also keep focusing if the remote button is held down lightly in AI Servo mode, as well as then releasing multiple shots if the camera is set to multiple shot.

The system consists of a remote control, a remote receiver which screws onto the cameras hot shoe mount, 2 different cables to be compatible with all digital EOS canon cameras (eg. 350D, 1000D, 50D, 5D, 1D) and instruction manual.  The Canon G10 as well as the Pentax K10/K100 and Samsung Gx10/20 cameras are also catered for in the Canon model with a Nikon model also available to cater for the Nikon shooters.  Batteries are included in the kit as well, a bonus if you ask me as you don’t end up at home wanting to use your new gadget but then realize you have to make another trip to a busy mall on a Saturday looking for obscure batteries no one stocks !

In my personal experience I find this to be a great addition to any serious photographers kit.  When I first tried the remote out I was skeptical of its quality and performance as many of you reading this undoubtedly are, it is a generic product after all.  But any such qualms have been thoroughly laid to rest in the time that I’ve used it.  The quality is on par with the Canon or Nikon models and it really performs flawlessly, especially if you consider what you are getting for the price.

My first test was inside ODP itself, where I placed the camera on the table and then proceeded to walk out of the shop to the steps leading up to it, where I then pressed the shutter release a few times to see if it would auto focus and take a few shots.  Back in the shop I was quite impressed to find in focus shots that had been taken, despite me standing almost 40 meters outside the shop with a few walls between me and the camera.

After this initial test run, my first proper use of the remote was on a recent trip to Dullstroom and then to the Transkei (Eastern Cape).  Arriving in a cold, rainy and misty Dullstroom, it was the perfect opportunity to get some longer exposures with the Canon 450D and a 17-40mm f4 L USM on the tripod.  Set to small apertures like f16 to get enough depth of field for the scene requires quite long shutter speeds to bring out the great atmosphere the low light misty conditions offered.  Even with the cold, mist and a slight drizzle conspiring against it, the remote performed flawlessly and gave me nice sharp shots.

Come evening it was time to leave the inviting warmth of the houses’ log fire and brave the cold highveld air to get some long exposure night shots of the dam in front of the house. What we photographers won’t do for some nice images!  This resulted in me leaving the setup in the cold for a long time in a slight drizzle to gather enough light in the pitch black darkness.  Teeth chattering, it was nice to have such an easy to use remote, just put the lens on infinity focus, the camera in bulb mode with f16, then press the remote button until the red light goes off and later press it again to stop the exposure and voila,  you have an instant night shot.  Bringing the setup back in to the house, there was some condensation in the lens but the remote and receiver was ready for more!

We also toured the region, visiting places such as Pilgrim’s rest, where the remote was put to good use for a family vacation group shot in the Royal Hotel bar.  Here it was great as I could hold it in my hand and trigger the shutter when everyone had their Colgate smile out without having to take the photo ten times over because someone wasn’t ready for the self timer.

Two weeks later it was off to the old Transkei to Wavecrest and Crawfords lodges.  The weather didn’t really play along so ended up not doing much photography but even with the salty air and strong winds that prevailed during our visit the remote did its thing and is still going strong.

All in all I give the remote a resounding thumbs up and can recommend it to anyone seeking sharper shots with a long lens or anyone doing landscapes or longer exposures.

Happy shooting!

 For more information on this product or a discussion about its uses, please visit the Outdoor photo forums

by Luan van Schalkwyk
Luan van Schalkwyk

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