Full-fledged Remote in Tiny Form

Courtesy Foolography

Photographers who capture long exposure, timelapse, night sky, remote video, remote wildlife, or macro images understand the value of a camera remote. A remote enables images to be captured without the need to touch the camera, thereby avoiding any chance of camera movement or wildlife detection. A new product, Unleashed, from the German firm Foolography, is the smallest, least obtrusive remote available. It offers a wide range of features.

Wireless camera remotes fall into three modes of connection to a camera. The simplest and least expensive are infrared remotes, favored by amateurs who want to trigger a group shot with themselves included. The most complex, largest, and most expensive connect through Wi-Fi. The Unleashed remote uses the newest form of connection— Bluetooth low energy.

There are advantages and disadvantages to all three connections. Unleashed optimizes the strengths of Bluetooth connection at an affordable price to provide all that most professional photographers will ever need in a camera remote.

Courtesy Foolography

Remote triggers require a transmitter and a receiver. The Unleashed receiver is available for most models of Canon and Nikon cameras. Rather than having a separate transmitter, Unleashed is controlled from a free app, which is compatible with Android phones and tablets running Android 5.0 or greater and iOS phones and tablets with iOS 10.0 or greater. I did my testing on an iPad with an advanced beta version of the app that’s scheduled for an upcoming general release. The updated Android version will follow.

The tiny Unleashed device plugs into the remote port of the camera, blending in nicely with the camera design. This may require some reconfiguring of the weather seal over the port. I stuck Velcro patches onto my Nikon Z 6 and the weather seal to keep the seal out of the way with the Unleashed attached. Different camera models require different connections. To view previews on the triggering device, set metering modes, and provide more timelapse and autoramping options, for example, the Z 6 needs an additional short cable that’s provided with the Unleashed to plug it into the USB C port.

The Unleashed app provides four modes of triggering: photo, video, timelapse, and autoramping timelapse. One feature I love is the ability to embed GPS location data into captures from GPS data on the controlling device or certain models of external GPS devices. GPS feature controls are provided by the app. Also available is the ability to preview captures in photo mode. Unfortunately, one of the shortcomings of Bluetooth is the low bandwidth, which makes it difficult to transfer high-resolution previews. You’ll get sufficient resolution to check exposure and composition but not focus. Foolography promises that high-resolution previews, focus stacking, and HDR bracketing modes are in the works.

In each mode, some functions are grayed out, indicating camera-dependent hardware restrictions that vary by camera model. For example, in the photo mode for the Nikon Z 6, the shooting mode (P, S, A, M), drive mode, and focus mode must be set on the camera, not with the app. Timed exposures longer than 30 seconds are not available from the app’s menu even though the latest Nikons have the ability to capture photos up to 900 seconds. However, there’s a long exposure setting in photo mode on the app that extends timed exposures up to 4.6 hours.

To use the video mode, you must choose video live view on the camera. Shooting mode, shutter speed, drive mode, and focus mode must also be set on the camera. There’s no ability to set frame size or frame rate through the app. And you cannot set the duration of the video capture nor the number of frames to capture. Starting and stopping the video capture is done by pressing the big red button in the app.

The timelapse and autoramping timelapse modes provide all the controls needed to perform these functions for all but the most demanding users. Lacking is the ability to directly set the number of frames to capture or to use the camera’s mirror-up mode to perform macro timelapse. Bulb ramping is in consideration for the future, although the autoramping mode provides a wide enough range of settings that bulb ramping isn’t really needed.

One of the greatest advantages of a Bluetooth connection is that there’s no need for a battery in the receiver. This permits the tiny size of the Unleashed and saves you from having to charge yet another device. Powered by the camera battery, the Unleashed created no noticeable decrease in power level.           

©Stan Sholik
©Stan Sholik
Cloud cover cleared long enough to capture the full eclipse of the moon in May using the Unleashed to trigger the camera with a 600mm lens plus 1.4x telextender.

Another advantage of Bluetooth is the ability to set up a video or timelapse and let it run unattended, even with the transmitting device turned off or out of range. Once a sequence is set up and begun, you can use your tablet or phone for other purposes. I found the Bluetooth range between the Unleashed and the iPad to be about 250 feet.

A final advantage of the Foolography Unleashed is its $199 price. For photographers interested in a tiny camera remote that never needs to be removed from a camera and provides geotagging data, the Unleashed is worth investigating.  

Stan Sholik is a photographer and writer in San Clemente, California.

©Stan Sholik

Tags: gear