What is a camera remote?
A camera remote control is a device you typically use when you want to avoid camera shake during a long exposure. Camera remote controls have a number of different names. They are typically called wireless triggers or remote triggers. People also call them wireless shutter releases. Writing an article like this, you can understand the difficulty in finding a common term to use. We chose to round up the best ‘camera remote controls’, as that term seemed to give the clearest indication of what they do: control your camera remotely.
A wireless camera remote will have separate transmitter and receiver units. The receiver connects to your camera via a cable, while the transmitter is typically the size of a key fob, which you hold in your hand. When you’re ready to take a photo, simply press a button on the transmitter and it fires a signal to the receiver, which in turn fires the camera’s shutter.
This allows you to shoot hands-free, which can be crucial as even the slightest camera movements can cause blur when shooting longer exposures, particularly on cameras capturing high-resolution images.
Of course, a wireless camera remote is also useful for taking group shots and other images where you want to be in the frame.
The range on wireless camera remotes can vary, but generally, they will always give you a larger operating range than the cheaper wired camera remotes.
Which type of wireless camera remote is best?
There are two types of technology that are used in wireless camera remote controls. Some use an infrared beam to communicate between the transmitter and receiver, while others use a radio frequency link.
Generally, I prefer an RF wireless remote over an infrared unit. This is because if something is blocking your path to the camera, the trigger won’t operate.
On the other hand, if you’re a professional photographer not every situation – nor some countries – will allow you to use an RF unit.
Our best camera remote controls
- CamRanger Mini
- Manfrotto Digital Director
- Hahnel Captur
- Vello FreeWave Fusion
- Phottix Aion
- Hama DCCS System
- Amazon Basics Wireless Remote Control
- 400ft range
- Shoot focus stacks, timelapses
- Full access to exposure settings
The original CamRanger broke new ground when it was released a few years back. It enabled you to connect and control your Nikon or Canon DSLR in a way that would have otherwise been impossible. Now the latest CamRanger Mini brings new features and a compact and updated look.
What does the CamRanger do? It essentially boosts your Nikon or Canon DSLRs functionality by enabling remote live view and firing options from up to 120m / 400ft away.
It utilises the latest wireless technology to link your camera to a mobile phone or tablet to your camera so it can then be controlled by a dedicated app.
Once connected the CamRanger App enables you to adjust settings such as shutter, aperture, ISO and white balance remotely.
Advanced modes enable you to shoot focus stacked images, timelapse and HDR imagery and all from within the app.
The CamRanger is designed to work remotely by forming its own Wi-Fi network, so where-ever you are the wireless connection of the device will be robust.
Manfrotto Digital Director
- Extend your camera’s functionality
- Get precise focus
- Canon and Nikon compatible
Manfrotto’s Digital Director is a clever device that transforms your iPad into a fully featured control and preview screen for your Canon or Nikon camera.
The way the Digital Director works is pretty simple: plug it into your iPad, then wire it directly into your camera’s USB port. Once the app has downloaded you’re ready to go.
Once opened, the interface of the Manfrotto Digital Director app will give you access to a range of camera features, even extending the functionality of your camera by offering features that you wouldn’t usually have.
Hahnel Captur Timer Kit
- Built-in interval timer for timelapses
- Great range
- Fully programmable
You can use Hahnel’s Captur as a traditional camera remote, but it also doubles as a powerful tool for capturing timelapses.
The difference here between other camera remotes is that Hahnel’s Captur includes a AA battery-powered interval timer module, as well as a receiver for mounting on your camera.
The interval timer is fully programmable, and there are two timing sequences on offer, as well as selectable delay times. Other features include Digital Channel Matching for pairing with other receivers and remote triggers.
Vello FreeWave Fusion
- 328ft range
- 16 channels
- Flash Sync Speeds up to 1/250 Sec
Vello’s FreeWave Fusion Basic 2.4GHz unit offers one of the most generous operating ranges of all the models on our best camera remotes list. At 328 feet you have extraordinary flexibility, particularly as it uses radio waves that don’t require the transmitter to have an open line of sight with the receiver.
What’s more, there are up to 16 channels you can use to reduce interference.
You can use the Vello to trigger hotshoe flashes as well as studio lights, allowing a flash sync speed of up to 1/250sec.
Like other camera remotes on this list, the Vellow FreeWave Fusion Basic offers a dual-function shutter release allowing users to press halfway to focus fully press to trigger the shutter.
- 200ft / 60m range
- 2.4 GHz frequency
- Multiple Timer and Long Exposure Functions
The Phottix Aion Wireless Timer and Shutter Release is another camera remote that offers a wider range of functions than most. With a dual wireless / wired timer, a universal 2.4GHz frequency and a generous range of 200 feet makes it incredibly flexible.
You’ll find instant, continuous 5 shot, 2sec delay and bulb shutter release modes, as well as a handy auto-bracketing timer for shooting HDR images.
Design-wise, we like the backlit LCD, which makes it suitable for using in dark conditions.
The Aion is available for Canon, Nikon and Sony cameras.
Hama DCCS System
- 150m range
- 1/4-inch screw thread for tripod mount
- Two-stage shutter release
Perhaps the perfect all-rounder on this best camera remote list, the Hama DCCSystem comprises a base unit that connects to your camera via a cable. Now, it’s worth noting that this cable doesn’t come with the unit; it’s sold separately because there are different cables for every make of camera, including Canon, Nikon, Sony, Olympus, Panasonic, Fujifilm, Leica and Pentax. There are even cables for Samsung and Minolta cameras.
The transmitter offers a two-stage shutter release for AF and triggering the shutter. You can also access your camera’s bulb mode for ultra-long exposures, set a 4sec self-timer or shoot in your camera’s burst mode.
Other features include an adaptor for mounting the receiver to your hotshoe and a 1/4-inch screw thread for mounting the unit on a tripod.
Amazon Basics Wireless Remote Control for Canon, Nikon Cameras
- Range of 10 feet
- Does its job
- Dirt cheap!
Amazon has quietly rolled out a Basics range of photographic kit which is incredibly cheap and surprisingly good. I’ve been using a Basics monopod for a couple years now. For less than the price of a bottle of wine you can get this Amazon Basics Wireless Remote Control for your Canon or Nikon camera.
The remote control is compatible with the following Canon cameras: T5i, T4i, T3i, T2i, T1i, XT, XTi, XSi, 5D Mark II, III, 100D, 6D, 60D, 7D, 70D, 300D, 350D,400D, 450D, 500D, 550D, 600D, 650D, and 700D cameras.
It’s also compatible with the following Nikon cameras: D3000, D3200, D3300, P6000, P7000, D40, D40x, D50, D5000, D5100, D5200, D5300, D60, D70, D7000, D70s, D750, D80, and D90.
Now, no doubt you’re probably thinking that this list of cameras looks a bit long in the tooth, and they are. But there are plenty of people out there still using these models, and for those of you looking for a simpler way to take group family shots, this is an excellent addition to your camera bag.
Bizarrely, Amazon lists a range of 10 feet for the Canon version and 16 feet for the Nikon option. Still, that’s plenty enough distance for that family self-portrait. Get the Canon version on Amazon US or Amazon UK. Get the Nikon version on Amazon US or Amazon UK.