My New Favorite Wireless Remote: The RFN-4s
I like to use a remote shutter release to help get the sharpest photos possible. But having a cabled remote always dangling from my camera can be a bit annoying. I've tried several wireless remotes and even written about one before. But I have a new favorite with the memorable name of RFN-4s by SMDV out of Korea.
If you shop on Amazon.com as much as I do, you've probably seen your own share of odd recommendations. If you buy the Windows version of a software title, they'll immediate suggest you buy the Mac OS X version. If you buy a set of something they'll suggest you also buy each of the individual component titles. Buy one ladder and they think you want every other ladder too. They seem to do better with book recommendations than non-media departments, but when you get into categories like Electronics and Home Improvement Amazon, all bets are off.
Amazon knows I'm a photographer. Based on the lenses they suggest I buy, they know I shoot Nikon, even though with all the stuff I've bought from Nikon I've never bought a camera or lens of any brand from them. There are limits of course, and Amazon hasn't quite gotten the knack of "enough already" since they recently started suggesting I buy everything Nikon makes and every third-party Nikon accessory made by anyone else. As much as I'd love to oblige, I really can't.
But the other day they suggested something Nikon related that is truly cool. There amongst the usual assortment of USB cables, compact flash cards and Nikon lenses in my Electronic recommendations was the "RFN-4s Wireless Remote Shutter Release for Nikon DSLR with MC30 Type connection (Nikon D200, D300, D300s, D700, D800, D800E, D1, D2, D3, D3x, D3s, D4) - Transmitter and Receiver Set." The unit sells on Amazon for $75.99.
As with most wireless Nikon remotes, the RFN-4s has two parts, the receiver and the transmitter. The receiver fastens to the 10-pin remote socket as usual and the transmitter goes in your pocket or wherever is convenient. What makes the RFN-4s special isn't the basic concept, it's the sophistication of the implementation. The transmitter is smaller than most and has no annoying aerial antenna to extend before use. The receiver too is smaller than others and is held in place solely by the 10-pin socket. It's small enough not to require the flash hotshoe for support so you can use it for a bubble level or perhaps even a flash. According to the company's website, they make wireless remotes for Canon, Sony, and other camera brands too, but it looks like all but the Nikon version need the flash hotshoe to hold the receiver.
The remote utilizes the 2.4GHz frequency spectrum, the same range most Wi-fi network adapters, microwave ovens and some cordless phones. You can switch the remote to any of 16 channels if you do experience interference. At least out where I usually shoot this hasn't been a problem, but after writing this, I might start coming across other photographers using an RFN-4s so I'm glad the configuration can be changed. Range is quoted by the manufacturer to be up to 320 feet. I haven't tested it that far but have had no issues with reliability at more reasonable distances. The unit supports all standard remote functions including bulb shooting. Using the remote works just the same as using the actual shutter release button on the camera.
The transmitter is powered by a standard AAA battery. The receiver is powered directly by the attached camera but does have an on/off button so you can leave it attached even when not in use. Turning the camera off naturally turns the receiver off. The receiver will also automatically sleep after two hours with no activity. The receiver has three small LED's on the front; one that blinks red every few seconds so you know it's powered on, one that blinks blue when you slightly depress the transmitter button to focus, and a third that blinks red when the shutter actually fires.
The unit comes with the required AAA battery, a lanyard for the transmitter, a small storage pouch that can hold both halves of the remote, and a small instruction booklet. Build quality so far seems quite good.
The RFN-4s isn't perfect, but it's by far the best wireless remote I've come across yet. The stubby antenna on the receiver unit does partially block the Flash +/- button that may bother those who use flash compensation a lot. The tiny DIP switches for changing channels are inside the battery compartment on the transmitter, but fully exposed on the front of the receiver. These things aren't easily flipped even when you want to so it seems unlikely they'd get changed by accident, but it would be nice if they were covered.
I'm not sure how widely available the RFN-4s is at other retailers, but if Amazon hasn't recommended it to you yet, you can find it here. It has my recommendation.