I have never been that keen on remote control photography. It is often portrayed as the simple solution to a lot of wildlife photography problems, but the issues it creates and the high failure rate put me off. I prefer to suffer long hours in a hide and be hands on with the camera when my subject finally arrives.
However my latest gadget, The Hahnel Inspire Wireless LiveView Remote Control, might just change my mind. I was inspired to buy it when my 30 year old radio remote control gave up the ghost. It was always a bit quirky and unreliable, but when it worked would do so from half a mile away. It was also rather large and heavy by todays standards.
The Hahnel on the other hand is small and lightweight and so far mine is completely reliable. Its great advantage is that if your Canon or Nikon camera has the LiveView facility then the image you are taking can be viewed on the built-in, 3.5” colour LCD of the hand-held transmitter. And it does this wirelessly.
Now that is a great advantage. What really impressed me was how easily it worked first time. I like gadgets and modern technology. I spent half a day setting up my Blackberry mobile phone when I got one and enjoyed the challenge of getting all those wonderful features working. With the Hahnel there was no challenge. I just plugged the receiver into my Canon EOS 1d Mk1v, switched it on and there was the image I was taking on the transmitter device as clear as day with no wires connecting the two.
Hahnel claim it works up to 60 metres away, but I have not managed that. About 40 metres seems to be the limit that the Wireless signal between the transmitter and receiver can manage. That is an issue. I would prefer to be able to work from 100 metres at times, but it is so useful to be able to view the actual image at any reasonable distance that I am still excited about it.
The image on the LCD is very clear and sharp and in colour. It is possible to play back images you have taken remotely from the transmitter, but I have had no desire to do so. Also the transmitter will control up to 4 receivers on 4 different camera if you buy additional ones. That might be useful one day.
Both the transmitter and receiver run off AA batteries and in my first few test runs it has got through the rechargeables I am using rather fast. This could be because the batteries are past their best. Even so it runs for a couple of hours on one charge at least.
The same device also comes with a cable that will operate my Canon G11 compact camera and this is my camera of choice for this sort of photography. There is no SLR mirror to create any noise and the shutter is all but silent. For wide angled photography of birds with the camera just inches from the subject it is perfect. The small size of a compact makes it much easier hide too.
The G11 does not have LiveView, but the Hahnel receiver has a built in CMOS camera lens so place this next to the G11 or put on the hotshoe pointing at the subject and you still get to see the image you are taking on the transmitters LCD screen. Wonderful.