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Review: Vello Wireless Remote Shutter Releases

If you intend on perfecting your work in product photography  then one accessory that you will find indispensable is a wireless remote shutter release.  This will allow you to effectively press the shutter on your camera without touching the camera. In turn, this will result sharper images because you will have no unwanted movement or vibration to the camera. A remote trigger is a must for any kind of product photography.

In this review I am going to look at four wireless remotes from Vello, a company that produces a full range of photographic accessories. The products that I will examine range from around $40 all the way to $200. They go from the most basic functionality all the way to full live view direct from your camera. They are Vello Freewave, Vello Freewave Plus, Vello Wireless ShutterBoss, and Vello Viewer. Since I have a Canon camera the models that I tested and the prices listed were based on my system. For other systems the main difference is the cable that is needed and Vello has cables for Canon, Nikon, Olympus, Sony, and Panasonic.

How Wireless Remote Shutters Work

Wireless remotes work by using a receiver and transmitter. These interact with the camera and transmit either by radio frequencies (RF) or infrared (IR). The units here work by RF and this means that there is no need for the transmitter to be in the line of sight of the receiver.

The receiver is the part that connects to the camera through a cable that is made for that camera. These are simplistic devices with the bulk of the control coming from the transmitter. As far as the transmitter, these can be relatively complex as they hold all of the controls that control the camera from a distance.

Once everything is connected it is just a matter of setting any controls and pressing the shutter release. You also have the ability to press the shutter release half-way to adjust focus. Each of these has the ability to connect to the hot shoe mount (as a cold shoe) on your camera. If you are using some sort of flash triggering device that is probably going to be in the hot shoe with that and so you will need to find another way to situate the receiver with the camera. This can be done by clamping or using some other form of support to your tri-pod.

Vello Freewave Wireless Remote Shutter Release: $37.50

Vello FreeWave

This is the most basic model reviewed here. Here you get the receiver, transmitter, and the appropriate shutter release cable for your system. The receiver has a shutter release button so that you can trigger your camera from the receiver, a power/set button which allows you to turn on your device as well as set it to one of 16 million possible radio channels.

This transmitter, which has an external antenna, gives you the ability to shoot single shots, continuous mode – this has to be setup on the camera to properly function, two second delay mode, and bulb mode when you want to get long exposures. For this last one you press the button on the transmitter for three seconds until the LED turns off and then the lens will remain open until you press the shutter button again.

To me, the Vello Freewave Wireless Remote is the minimum setup that you need. It provides all of the basic controls to control your camera and is available at an affordable price. In my testing it performed flawlessly and is very easy to use. From the point-of-view of a product product photographer, this is a great system to use, you can put the transmitter in your back pocket when you are working with your lights or subject and it never gets in the way. Just be careful about the antenna.

Specs

Smart Code Channels 16,000,000 possible codes
Range Up to 320′ (100 m)
Frequency 433 MHz
Shutter Modes Single shot
2 sec delay
Continuous
Bulb
Confirmation LEDs 2 colors
Power Source Transmitter: 1 x 23A 12V battery
Receiver: 1 x CR2 3V battery
Battery Life Transmitter: up to 3 years
Receiver: approx. 20,000 triggers
Dimensions Transmitter: 3.22 x 1.06 x 0.55″ (82 x 27 x 14mm)
Receiver: 2.32 x 1.49 x 1.14″ (59 x 38 x 29mm) with cold shoe mount

Pros:

Price: For under $40 this is a great buy!

Easy to use

Reliable

Cons:

While well constructed, feels less sturdy compared to the other models

Antenna needs to be extended and so has some potential to break

Vello FreeWave Wireless Remote

Vello Freewave Plus Wireless Remote Shutter Release: $59.95

Vello FreeWave Plus

This is a similar device as the Freewave described previously except it has a couple of additional features. First is the fact that it more solidly built. Next, the antenna is internal which means that you don’t have to worry about having to extend it to make sure that transmitting occurs correctly and more importantly you can’t accidentally break it off.

This unit has 16 channels and also has single shot and bulb mode. This one differs in that it has a 4-second delay which can give you more time to get into place and ready, and it has both continuous and 1-second continuous mode when you want to have one second delays between shots. For this you set your camera to single shot mode and the transmitter to continuous and when you press the shutter button down it will take shots every second until you release the shutter.

Again this unit is very well built and performed outstandingly. I like the internal antenna, but I am not sure that the rest of the features are necessary worth the extra expense. This one comes down to your needs and budget. From the point-of-view of a product product photographer, it too is small and easy to put in your pocket when you are working with your set up and has the added benefit that you don’t have to worry about breaking the antenna.

Specs:

Frequency 2.4 GHz
Range 320′ (100 m)
Channels 16
Confirmation LEDs 2 color
Shutter Modes Single shot, 4-second delay, continuous, 1-second continuous, bulb
Power Source Transmitter: 2 x AAA batteries
Receiver: 2 x AAA batteries
Battery Life Transmitter: 3 years

Receiver: 300 hours

Pros:

Well built and solid construction

No external antenna to break

Reliable

Cons:

More costly with not a lot of extra features

Vello FreeWave Plus Wireless Remote

Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote: $99.50

Vello Wireless ShutterBoss

The Wireless ShutterBoss is a very complete remote trigger and can provide you with a lot of flexibility. This unit includes many timer functions such as a self-timer, interval timer, long exposure timer as well as controls for the number of continuous shutter trips.

This unit has a 250 foot range which is a bit shorter than the previous ones, but for product photography that is not an issue. Here you have 99 selectable channels using FSK modulated 2.4 GHz which makes it much more reliable. It has a nice LCD backlit screen which is great if you work in low-light situations such as light painting. It can also trigger multiple receivers using just the one trigger.

Using the Wireless ShutterBoss is really pretty straight forward when you consider how much it can really do. You can do single shot and continuous shooting pretty easily. By using the arrow controls below the LCD you can move between the different modes and the display helps guide you through the set up. This brings you so much power to remotely control your shots without a lot of work. From the point-of-view of a product product photographer, it is more bulky. While it does fit into your pocket, it is a little less convenient from the size aspect. From a utility standpoint, it makes up for that in its versatility and functionality.

Specs:

Frequency 99 selectable channels over FSK 2.4 GHz
Range 250′ (80 m)
Exposure Range 0s to 99hr 59min 59s in one-second increments
Interval 1s to 99hr 59min 59s in one-second increments
Number of Shots 1 to 99 (programmable) or unlimited
Operating Temperature -4 to 122°F (-20 to 50°C)
Dimensions Transmitter: 5.9 x 2 x 1″ (14.9 x 5 x 2.4 cm)
Receiver: 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.2″ (6.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 cm)

Pros:

A lot of useful features that provide for a lot of flexibility

Well built and solid construction

Very reliable

Cons:

Larger unit that may prove to be a bit more cumbersome when working in a product studio environment

Vello ShutterBoss

Vello FreeWave Viewer Wireless Live View Remote: $199.95

Vello FreeWave Viewer

The FreeWave Viewer is a live view TFT-LCD monitor and 2.4GHz radio transmitter to provide a wireless viewing system that also enables remote shutter control from a distance up to 200′ away from the camera. The live view monitor features a 3.5″ display with a 320 x 240 resolution that is able to provide a real time view of what your camera is seeing. Needless to say this is the most complex unit of all of these systems.

The way this works is the receiver, instead of having just a shutter release cable that plugs into your camera, also has an audio video/microphone input cable that goes in to your camera as well. This allows you to transmit a live view of what you are shooting. This can be done from within the camera or from the receiver itself. Why would you need both? If you were setting up in a remote location and you had your lens to a very narrow view, the wider view on the receiver would better alert you to when something was coming into view.

The FreeWave Viewer like all of the Vello products, works extremely well. The issue is that this view system does not translate well in to product photography. At least for the way I work, the video input port on my camera is generally tethered to my laptop which provides a significantly larger view of the shot that I can see from where I am working. The transmitter does provide a clear view, it is not of the resolution that my laptop can display.

From the point-of-view of a product product photographer, this one just doesn’t work for me. It is way too bulky, it is much harder to hold in just one hand – which is sometimes required if you are trying to hand hold a diffuser or some other object, to get the shot, and the expense just does not warrant this for this type of studio photography.

Specs:

Radio Frequency ISM 2.4 GHz
Wireless Range 200′ / 61 m
Number of Channels 4
Monitor 3.5″ TFT-LCD
Monitor Resolution 320 x 240
CCTV Lens Focal Length 45 mm (35 mm equivalent)
Transmitter Input/Output AV/mic mini in, Sub-mini sync in, USB power in, DC 5 V in
Viewer Input/Output AV/audio mini out, USB power out
Power Source 8x AA batteries (4x per unit)
USB power input
Battery Life > 10 hrs
Dimensions Transmitter: 6.5 x 2.5 x 1.5″ / 16.5 x 6.4 x 3.8 cm
Viewer: 4.8 x 2.9 x 1.1″ / 12.2 x 7.4 x 2.8 cm
Weight Transmitter: 3.1 oz / 87.9 g (without batteries)
Viewer: 4.5 oz / 127.6 g (without batteries)

Pros:

Able to view either directly from the camera or from the receiver using live view

Very reliable

Cons:

Takes up the video port on your camera which does not allow you to shoot tethered

Bulky size would prove to be cumbersome when working in the studio

Expense

Uses a lot of batteries to power both units.

 

Vello FreeWave Viewer

Conclusions

As I said, all of these products work extremely well and based on quality and performance and from that aspect I can easily recommend all four. If your primary work is still life/product photography, then here are my recommendations. I would go with Vello Freewave Wireless Remote Shutter Release if your primary concern is cost. It will perform well and with a little care, should last a long time.

If cost is not an issue or you would rather invest in something long term, then Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote is your device. Very well built an can perform most any task you might need. While the Vello Freewave Plus Wireless Remote Shutter Release is a great product, I am not sure if the extra 20+ dollars is worth it.

As far as the Vello FreeWave Viewer Wireless Live View Remote, this might be worth it if you also shoot nature or sports, or something else where it would be of benefit to have visuals from a distance.

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