Sometimes I take a moment to review my life. I have been told I don’t have control over my destiny, sometimes my kids, and certainly not my wife. In the world of photography, I have the chance to at least control the operations of my gear. Exposure, shutter speed, angles of view, the lenses I wish to use, and a host of other variables for which I find quite fulfilling.
But even with the “Ultimate Power” I possess being behind the lens, there are moments when I just can’t control certain aspects of the shot. One of these was an issue I had when it came to shooting small animals, mainly birds up close with short focal length lenes. The first choice, and the easiest, is procuring your longest lens from the arsenal, mounting it on the body, and begin the hunt. This can provide you with many endearing images, but you can get away from the compressed long lens feel to the images and there are just some species that just won’t let even the nicest and politest photographer get close enough for a shot. So what if you could take the same photos with, let’s say, a 200mm lens, instead of lugging that 600mm around. The captures would be sharp, crisp images, and have plenty of Depth of Field (DOF).
There is a way. Remote control of the camera is easier now than ever before. I just recently acquired a device that enables me to have full control of my camera from up to 150 foot away. I can have control without the constant struggle with wires weaving through the woods to my camera. The device - the CamRanger. A fully automated control devise for your camera in the studio or in the field. I use it in the field for wildlife and studio for stacking images.
The Camranger unit works by bluetooth wireless communication from a tablet, laptop, or other smart device - many of them often smarter than I am. But even with my non-techy abilities, this unit was easy to use right from the box.
Of course, when the man with the “Big Brown Truck” arrived, I had to seek out subjects right away. Searching around the yard, I noticed the bird feeder hadn’t been used in several months. I paid a visit to the pet shop and acquired some seed, spread it out on the platform, and waited for my first victims. It didn’t take too long for the birds to realize the free meals were back again.
Now the CamRanger is a small wireless box to receive the signal commands from you and with it plugged into the port on the side of my camera Nikon D810, I was ready to go. I also purchased the motorized head. This is an accessory, so you don’t really need this to control your camera – especially in the studio. But it does come in handy when subjects are moving in the field as it enables you to track and follow the subject while shooting.
The images for this post were taken within a few hours from receiving the unit and attaching it to the camera. I placed the camera on the tripod motorized head, plugged the CamRanger Bluetooth into the body and I was set to go. After removing the150-600mm Sigma Sport Lens I purchased from Camera Cottage in Montana and replacing it with the Nikon 70-200 2.8, I headed for the feeder.
In the following images, you can see the extremely detailed images I was able to capture from just a few minutes using this device.
Is the CamRanger a useful piece of equipment? Yes. Here are a couple of thing to be aware of when using it though. The unit uses Bluetooth technology to send the information from you to the unit. Distance can vary from each device you are communicating with, so you have to find out what works best. There is also a learning curve, as for any device you operate, so don’t be discouraged by not being able to track something that is moving quickly. I wait and watch the animals for some time, as every wildlife photographer should. You will be able to time shots and locations where the subject will be next.
The good thing about Bluetooth is that the shutter release is almost instant with the capturing. There is little to no shutter communication lag time either. You have complete control of focus with autofocus lenses, aperture and shutter speed control are a breeze. Almost all of the adjustment features, even down to the ISO settings, can be done wirelessly.
Now the big question. Do I have any more control of my life than I did before? Well, no. But I am having a lot more fun controlling the photography I have a passion for.