Friday, November 18, 2016

Nikon ML-L3 Remote Control

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

A wireless remote for a camera is a difficult thing to review, mostly because your experience is going to vary greatly depending on which camera you have.  You will have to set your camera up, but the exact menu path is going to vary slightly with each model and there are several models of Nikon that this remote works with.  I have only used this remote with the Nikon D50, so a lot of what I write in this review is going to be affected by that.

The other reason is that you don’t generally get much of a choice of remotes.  Each camera only takes one remote.  Which remote you buy will be determined by which camera you have, essentially making it Hobson’s choice.  Either you buy a remote or you don’t.

There are a few reasons why you would buy a remote.  If you want to take a picture of yourself, but don’t want to use the timer function, you have two options:  get a remote or bring a friend to take the picture.  You may also want to reduce shake if you’re taking a long exposure or using a telephoto lens.  If you decide that you want to get a remote, your instruction manual should say which model you’ll need.  If not, the manufacturer’s web site should have that information.

The remote itself is pretty simple.  It’s a button and a transmitter connected by a body with a battery.  They only thing that it does is trigger the shutter, much like the button on the camera.  You can’t change camera settings with the remote.  You can’t use it to compose or review pictures.  You can’t order takeout with it.  It acts just like the shutter release on your camera.  Setting up the camera to be triggered by the remote will depend on your camera; the instruction manual should have a section on it.  (This is one of those things that I just can’t help you with.)

The range is pretty decent.  I can stand back maybe 10 or 20 feet and still have the remote trigger the camera.  The angle will matter on the build of your camera.  Each camera has a remote sensor that receives the remote’s signal.  If something’s blocking it, the camera won’t take the picture.

Range has rarely been an issue for me since I usually use the remote for long exposures.  I’m generally standing behind the camera.  In fact, I’d actually recommend using the remote for long exposure.  Without the Nikon D50, I have to hold down the button on the camera if I’m not using the remote.  With the remote, I press the button to start the long exposure and again to end it, which really cuts down on blur as a result of shaking.

I have tried to take pictures of myself with the remote.  I know with the D50, I have three options.  I can either set the camera on a 10-second delay, use the remote with a 2-second delay or simply use the remote.  If I use the remote to take a picture of myself, I’ll probably either look funny or be shown pressing the button on the remote.  The advantage of using the remote with a 2-second delay is that I can take several pictures without running back and forth to the camera.  The only problem I’ve had is setting up the picture.  I’ve never been able to do a decent self-portrait.

The battery is an odd size, but you get one with the remote.  Before using the remote, you’ll have to take off a protective plastic strip.  (It took me a few minutes to figure out why it wasn’t working straight out of the box.)  This brings me to the only major drawback of the product.  Getting the battery door off of the remote is a real pain.  You have to pinch two things that go in so that you can take off the battery door.  It’s fairly difficult to do.

I bought the ML-L3 for $20, but the price has since dropped.  The last time I checked, it was going for $17.50.  The D50 has since been discontinued, but there are still camera models available that use this remote.  If you want a remote, it’s really not a big deal to get one.  The one thing I will warn you about is that since the remotes are small, they’re easy to lose.  Keep yours in a secure place or you will have to replace them often.

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