Review of wired remote controllers for Canon EOS cameras by Canon, Adidt (M1C3), Nova Photography and OMG! (SR-2).
Copyright © 2005 NK Guy
For years Canon have been the only maker of EOS-compatible shutter releases (remote controls). There are three basic types of these handheld wired shutter releases, distinguished by the type of electrical connector used. For more details on these and other related EOS shutter release products, please consult my beginner FAQ entry on the subject. But this review covers five different remote switches, as shown below. Thanks to Chris Hopkins for lending the Canon remotes for the photo. Note that I also have a review of a generic radio remote as well.
From left to right: the Canon RS-80N3, the Canon RS60-E3, the Nova Photography remote and the Adidt M1-C3 . The fifth? Ill get into that later. Not shown: the OMG! remote, since I bought that later.
Canon wired shutter releases
The earliest EOS cameras, such as the EOS 620, 1, 5 and 1N, used Canon-proprietary T3 connectors, and for them the Remote Switch 60-T3 (or RS-60T3) was made. The T3 connector was fiddly to use and unpopular with photographers and was basically dropped by the early 1990s. Later midrange and professional EOS cameras such as the EOS 3, 1V, 1D, 10D and 5D use the Canon-proprietary N3 connector, and for them the Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 is sold. Later consumer and lower midrange EOS cameras, such as the EOS 30/Elan 7 and Digital Rebel/EOS 300D/Kiss Digital, use standard 2.5mm stereo audio jacks, and for them the Remote Switch RS60-E3 is sold.
Note the minor hyphenation inconsistency here. The E3 remote has "RS60-E3" printed on it, even though its N3 sibling is labelled "RS-80N3". This does not make any particular sense, and I can only presume it was an error, but since thats what Canon call the products thats what Im going to call them too.
Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3
The Canon Remote Switch RS-80N3 (remote switch, 80 cm cord, N3 plug) is built for midrange digital and high end Canon film and digital cameras. Its really simple and straightforward - a small plastic box with a sliding pushbutton locking switch. Thats really all there is to it. Its perhaps a tiny bit big for travel purposes, but its a really comfortable size to hold and operate, I find. It uses a locking-ring N3 plug to connect to a camera, and has a small recess on the back which I believe is used to store removable rubber caps for those cameras which have such caps over their remote control terminals. This recess isnt the right size to store the end of the remotes plug when its not in use. N3 is a proprietary locking plug and socket system created by Canon for their cameras and is not an industry-standard design.
There is also a more sophisticated timer remote with an N3 connector - the TC-80N3. This remote includes a small digital timer, making it useful for interval and long exposure shots. I dont review it here.
Canon Remote Switch RS60-E3
The Canon Remote Switch RS60-E3 (remote switch, 60 cm cord, E3 plug) is built for low-end film and digital cameras and both low-end and midrange film cameras. Its smaller than the the N3 version, and thus slightly less comfortable to hold. And it actually has an interesting couple of minor extra features - it has a hole in the base for plugging the end of the cord for storage and two notches for wrapping the cord. Other than that it has a sliding pushbutton switch as well. It uses a standard 2.5mm stereo miniplug (similar to the 3.5mm stereo miniplug used on portable stereos, but smaller) to connect to a camera. Canon refer to these industry-standard 2.5mm stereo plugs as E3 plugs.
The Canon RS remotes are all good quality products - sturdily made and reliable. But theyre also not inexpensive for what they are - small plastic boxes with simple pushbuttons. Which sets the stage for the recent flood of imitators.
Adidt wired shutter releases
Seeing a market for cheap knockoffs, in 2003 or so a Chinese firm based in Hong Kong, Adidt Tenologies (sic), produced a line of EOS-compatible products. Their M1 series is basically a simple black plastic box; a handheld switch remote sold as three different products for the Canon market - with 2.5mm (Adidt M1-C1), T3 (Adidt M1-C2) or N3 (Adidt M1-C3) plugs on the end of the cable. They also sell a version known as the M1-N1 for the Nikon market, and the M1-C1 also apparently works with a number of non-Canon cameras, such as the Contax N and 645 and the Pentax *ist D, which also use 2.5mm connectors.
The Adidt products are dirt cheap compared to their Canon equivalents - about a half to a quarter of the price - but theyre also nowhere near as sturdily made. The pushbutton lock is sort of wobbly and not very secure-feeling. The button, which supports the two-position press of Canon cameras (focus and shutter), even sort of sags under pressure like a cheap toy. The version I have has a black plastic button, but some are moulded in silver plastic. The position of the button is reversed from the Canon products - the Canon remotes have the pushbutton at the cord end of the device, whereas the Adidt remotes have the pushbutton at the non-cord end, which is fatter. Personally I find the Canon remotes more natural to hold and use.
Finally, and most importantly, the cloned connector on the N3 version of the Adidt plug does not have a locking ring, thus eliminating the major advantage of the N3 design (see below). The Adidt version relies on the natural friction of the soft plastic plug to keep it in place. And if the plug isnt pushed all the way into the socket the camera simply will not trigger - always double-check before shooting if you use this product.
The Adidt products even come in boxes which imitate the colour scheme and layout of their Canon counterparts, which is a bit cheeky. They do, however, possess one feature which the Canon versions do not - they contain accessory 2.5mm sockets on the side. This means you could use the N3 version as an adapter for connecting homemade remote controls and the like. Adidt bill this socket as being useful for controlling two cameras simultaneously, which I suppose would be possible if you were to use the appropriate cords.
The Adidt products are also certainly useful for people wanting to build their own homemade remotes for both T3 and N3-compatible cameras, since they are so cheap and easily altered. However, more recently Adidt have produced a more interesting and innovative product, the R3 series of wireless remotes. These remotes use radio frequency (RF) signals rather than infrared, meaning you get much better range (up to 100 metres with one version) and you dont need line of sight. They also have keychain pocket transmitters. I have not used any of these RF products and so cannot offer any insight into their build quality or reliability, but I have reviewed a similar product. Since they are radio frequency transmitters they may or may not be licensed for legal use in your country of residence, for what its worth.
One final point about the Adidt remote that Ive noticed is that they frankly are not very sturdy. Mine has a problem with the cord separating from the strain relief, so I no longer use it.
Nova Photography wired shutter releases
Nova Photography are another Chinese firm in the wired remote game. They sell wired remotes which are visually quite similar to the Canon products, and generally built to a higher quality standard than their Adidt counterparts. The remotes have crisply moulded shells with mechanical locking switches marked with fluorescent orange stickers and positioned at the cord end of the device, just like the Canon remotes. The switches feel almost as precise and firm as the Canon versions.
More importantly, the releases have locking N3 plugs, at least in the case of the N3-compatible releases. (I didnt buy the 2.5mm stereo minijack version, but I imagine there isnt much to report about this version thats different other than the plug, obviously) Unlike Adidt the Nova plugs have springloaded outer metal locking rings, and look identical to the Canon plugs. These connectors lock firmly in the N3 socket, cable angling forward on my EOS 5D. Like Adidt the Nova releases also have the additional 2.5mm stereo minijack socket on the front for connecting additional remotes to be added, unlike the Canon products. (2.5mm sockets are always used, even on the N3 versions of the remotes)
The Nova products are sold in three configurations with three cable lengths - the 1 metre "cable" version, the 5 meter "cable pro" version and the 10 metre "cable ultra" version. Oddly, the remotes ship in plain white unmarked boxes. They have no brand name printed on the bodies - just the completely superfluous text REMOTE SWITCH printed in gold and NOVA PHOTOGRAPHY printed on the wire itself.
In all, the Nova products seem sturdy and are a reasonable value for money. However, they are also much larger than either the very small Adidt release or the midsized Canon release, as can be seen in the photo at the top of this page. The Adidt and Canon remotes are definitely less bulky in a crowded camera bag. Annoying, really, since theres nothing really needed inside any remote switch except a pushbutton switch and a few wires. The interior of the Nova remote, it turns out, actually contains a small circuit board to support the 2.5mm jack, and an internal block and socket for the main wire leading out of the remote, so it could presumably safely detach the wire if it were pulled too hard. (the other remotes have wires soldered directly to the metal strips which make up the pushbuttons)
This, and the large wedge-shaped strain relief molded into the wire, is all reassuringly sturdy engineering, but also a bit of overkill sizewise, I think. I personally find the Nova remotes slightly less comfortable to use because of their thickness. The button also kind of goes in a lot when pressed, which is sort of awkward for bulb shots.
Oh, my God! The OMG! wired shutter releases
Finally, we have the OMG! SR-2 remote switch, another Chinese-made product, only with a much funnier name.
It has the most professional presentation of all the non-Canon remotes reviewed. It ships in a transparent plastic box with a white and red insert card tastefully branded with the letters "OMG!" If such a thing is possible. Inside the box are a multilingual instruction leaflet and the remote.
The remote itself seems reasonably well constructed - basically on par with the Nova remote and slightly lower build quality than the Canon. Its a good size to use and carry around, roughly the same size as the Canon RS-80N3 but thinner, and has good smooth lines. Unlike the other remotes its actually kind of elegant in a minimalist sort of way, with straight parallel sides.
The pushbutton is moulded out of grey plastic, but has slightly soft edges generally associated with less expensive manufacturing processes. That doesnt mean its not good as such; just that it looks and feels a bit cheap since the edges arent crisp. Like everybody elses remotes it has a mark, painted fluorescent orange, for indicating the running lock. The button is a little more sensitive than I'd like and is easily triggered accidentally, which is a bit annoying.
Like the Canon remote, it has a locking N3 connector with metal ring. However the OMG! N3 plug is a cheaper build than Novas, which is actually a very convincing clone of the Canon design. The OMG! plug has a basic crosshatched patterned metal grip instead of the raised metal flanges. But, more to the point, the metal locking ring is much looser than the Canon or Nova products - it wiggles around more. I dont know how itll hold up by comparison but so far it seems okay.
The remote has a small hole on the side that looks like it should accommodate a 2.5mm jack, like the Nova and Adidt remotes. However, its just a hole and not an actual socket, so its totally useless. I suppose if a version of this remote were made with a 2.5mm plug (E3) then you could plug the end of the cable in when its not in use, but it does nothing for the N3 version except let dust and dirt in.
Like the Canon RS-80N3 the OMG! version has a recessed area on the back used for storing the removable rubber caps which cover the remote sockets on a handful of Canon cameras, such as the EOS 3. Most other EOS cameras have non-removable rubber flaps, so this is useless to most people.
Finally, the cable has a short velcro strap on it to keep the cable neatly wrapped and under control when not in use. Very convenient - I wish all the remotes had one of these!
Here are the plugs used by most of the products reviewed here.
From left to right, the plugs used by the Canon RS-60E3, the Nova Photography N3 plug, the Adidt M1-C3 plug (note how it has no locking ring) and the Canon RS-80N3 (note how it looks almost identical to the Nova clone).
Are the third party remotes any good?
Well. To summarize, these remotes are fine. Theyre readily available quite cheaply on Internet auction sites such as eBay - there seems to be something of a cottage industry in Hong Kong exporting this sort of thing to the West. In fact, since I wrote this review two more Chinese companies (HKSupplies and Jianisi) have got into the Canon remote game with new products which clearly use different tooling from any of the remotes reviewed here. Just search eBay for "Canon remote" and youll find a whole pile of the things. Its all quite bizarre. How many bit players can possibly survive in this tiny remote controller market? It cant be that lucrative!
Anyway. The Adidt products are a matter of getting what you pay for, but are not the type of product youd want to rely on if youre a professional or serious photographer. If, however, you rarely need a remote shutter release and just want something cheap to play with then theyre probably a reasonably good bet. The Nova products are sturdier and only slightly lower quality than the Canon products, but theyre also oddly bulkier than the other remotes. The OMG! products seem a reasonable compromise between the two.
Homemade and repurposed switches
Since a wired remote is nothing more than a plastic box with a two-position switch, its really easy to build your own. The mysterious fifth remote I show above, marked "Samsung", is actually the mute button and microphone from a Samsung earphone for a cordless telephone. I disconnected the microphone and rewired the mute button so that it performs both focus triggering and shutter release. And the remote mike already had a 2.5mm stereo miniplug on the end, so it didnt need any modifications to be used as a remote controller for a Canon E3-equipped camera. Being so small its obviously a bit delicate, but it also takes up virtually zero room in the camera bag.
Why, oh why?
Finally, why did I buy all this junk? Well, in part of course, so I could review the products for my site. But also, I went through a bunch of others.
- I bought a Canon RS-80N3. Somewhere in my trans-Atlantic move this remote disappeared.
- So I bought an Adidt remote to replace it. I wasnt that impressed by it, though. The strain relief broke, I never liked the friction-fit plug, and the button was always squishy and not much of a confidence-builder.
- I then bought a Nova remote. I liked it well enough, but it always seemed unnecessarily large.
- I then bought a generic radio remote. Its nice, but I decided I wanted to replace its friction-fit plug with a locking one, so:
- finally I bought an OMG! remote to dissect and use its locking plug with the radio remotes. However, of all the remotes it offers the best compromise between quality and size, I think, so its now my main remote.
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