Manufacturer: Shenzhen Shoot Photographic Equipment Co., Ltd.
Website: n/a (see below)
MSRP: USD $5.00, or thereabouts
There’s photographic equipment, and then there’s photographic equipment. If you’ve spent much time in a camera store, you know it’s almost impossible to escape without laying down at least a hundred clams for something or other. And if it says Canon or Nikon on the package, you can double whatever you were expecting.
If you’re doing any kind of remote camera or custom trigger work, you can do everything yourself up to a point: the actual plug into the camera. Both Canon and Nikon have a wide range of remote ports into their cameras, and I count no less than four different types of ports in the cameras that I own. All of those ports are complex, not the sort of thing that you can manufacture yourself.
So, you only have two options: hack apart a name brand cable, which will typically retail for at least $50, or enter the strange world of Chinese knockoffs and E-Bay suppliers. The Shoot RS-80N3 is a remote shutter release cable for Canon cameras with N3 ports (like the 20-60D, 7D, and 5D series), but they make cables for any number of camera ports. Remarkably, the cable is one tenth the price of the name brand units, retailing for about $5.00. You won’t find these in camera stores, there’s simply no margin, so online retailers are the only way to go.
Above: a continuous series of 8-second shots makes a stunning timelapse of the Toronto skyline, photographed with a locked-down Shoot RS-80N3 over a period of six hours.
As a remote shutter release, the RS-80N3 is a competent unit. Plug it into your camera, and the single switch will act as a shutter half-press (focus), full-press (shoot), or locked-down (continuous shooting). The switch is positive and solid feeling, a well moulded piece of plastic. But five bucks doesn’t get you top quality, and you sacrifice any sort of locking mechanism between the plug and the camera, which is part of the reason why name brand units are more expensive. If you’re planning a long-duration or mission-critical shot, a secondary means of securing the cable to the camera is a must, even if it’s just a rubber band around the SLR body.
Because it doesn’t require any power, a shutter release cable like the RS-80N3 is invaluable for certain situations. Put simply, there’s nothing to go wrong (besides the cable falling out of the camera), and in any situation in the field I’ll always choose simplicity over complexity. It could be used to photograph star trails if you’re happy with the maximum exposure time of your camera (typically I’m not, and prefer exposures that run into the minutes), or timelapses if you’re interested in simply firing your camera continuously. Of course, it can also be used for its intended purpose: to simply take a photograph, minimizing any sort of shake in the camera from you physically touching the camera body, but for that infrared remotes can’t be beat.
Above, from left to right: a custom cable built from a Shoot RS-80N3 connector captures the final launch of the entire space shuttle program, triggered by a T-Minus Productions Audio Trigger, a locking N3 connector, and the Shoot non-locking connector.
The best way to find cables like these is by doing a search on E-Bay or Amazon. Brand names seem to change regularly, so it’s hard to tell if the manufacturers are fly-by-night, coming and going, or if their North American presence simply keeps changing, but as stated in the opening it’s a strange world:
Five dollars is less than the price of a lens cap at a local camera store, so you have to be realistic about what you’re getting: a decent switch, and a middling connector. If you’re looking for a remote shutter release on a budget or need to hack custom cables together, the Shoot RS-80N3 will fill the bill. Caveat emptor.
Product: Shoot RS-80N3
Best uses: continuous long-exposure timelapses, custom cable hacking
Strengths: cheap — you can’t get any cheaper
Weaknesses: no locking mechanism
Final verdict: recommended, if you’re sure of what you’re doing