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Phottix TR90 – Intervalometer – Clicker

To make long word, intervalometer, simple think of a remote finger to click the camera shoot button.  Now an an intervalometer is a tool that makes photography like time-lapse possible.  Imaging trying to push down on the shutter button every second, two, five or what ever the interval is.  The mental game of counting off drives one crazy as I’ve experienced first hand when one is not operational for one of many reasons, usually photographers fault I should note.

My experience with an intervalometer did not start with time-lapse but came with having more control over not being attached directly to the camera.  In traditional ways of taking a picture I call it shooting a photograph.  We pull the camera up to a eye much like a gun and fire away.  For many types of photographers this is the only way they’ve ever taken a picture.  I found the use of such a tool is very liberating for not only myself the photographer but the subject as well.  This is not to say life gets easier or is less work.  It takes more thinking ahead of the click.  The result was a subject that was at ease as well as a greater understanding of the camera.

My personal life saver and standard intervalometer installed on all my cameras. Phottix TR-90

My personal life saver and standard intervalometer installed on all my cameras.

The feature set on intervalometers are growing all the time and the camera is being taken to new heights and challenging environments.  Since focusing on time-lapse for many years each and everyone of my cameras is hooked up with Phottix TR90 that is my tool of preference.  I will note at this point that I do have a working relationship with their retail stores but I have not received free products.  They have offered additional support and they do carry my movie “This is Hong Kong”.  The stores in Mong Kok and Wan Chai have always been supportive of my passion.

Why the Phottix TR90.  I have tried a few other models over the years and as someone who clicks more than most towns residents combined I put them through their test.  The following is why I choose this as my standard gear bag

  • feature set is very easy to navigate through, when setting up a few camera’s for a time lapse to start now or in predetermined time is convenient
  • batteries are a huge plus as they are triple A so easy to come by and they do last a long, long time.  I always carry a spare set or two as other gear I use require the same
  • delay timing is set in hours (up to 99 hours), minutes (59 minutes) and seconds (59 seconds) – this is ok as I would only usually setup a remote camera no more than 12 hours ahead of time.  It’s not great for the reason that sometimes our brains let us down and working in this method rather than a real time clock.
  • the length of time shot is also the same and used when you’re shooting in bulb mode, for super long exposure images this is an amazing feature.  TRICK – if you’re shooting in long exposure noise reduction mode where the camera records one cycle and then does the second one to reduce noise set the number of images to 2 so you will know how long before camera will complete processing.
  • interval is what time lapse is all about and this is something that is very much determined over time and personal style.  Personally I have found it’s better to have to many images than not enough so one can always speed up frame rate, use one in x images than not having enough and having to re-shoot.  The interval settings are the same as delay and length of shot.
  • number of images – the device can be used in a range of 1-399 or unlimited.  My most common are 2 for long exposure and unlimited for time lapse.
  • sound – to let you know the timer has started – my default setting is off as I’ve never found a good benefit personally to use it
  • light and lock button – are located on the front below the display on the left side.  They are a shared button.  The light will stay on the display for 5 seconds that personally I find too short.  To activate the lock button one must hold button for a few seconds and the same to release it.
  • timer start/stop button is found below the display to the right hand side – once the timer has been started the clock will start and it’s operational
  • single fire button is something I use more often than expected, this might be because I always have the TR90 attached regardless of the shooting conditions.  It gives me more freedom when capturing images and as I stated below I’m not usually seen in the traditional shoot and fire position.
  • cable attached to controller is best way to ensure reliability.  This not only ensures I don’t have to worry about a port failing it also means that I’m not going to lose the cable.

Recommendations

Don’t think for one minute this is not the best solution I’ve found to date.  I’ve used wireless solutions (use more batteries so less reliable) as well as more simple devices that shortcomings that became very restrictive very quickly.  I for one don’t believe that we should ever not helping our partners create better products.  Today markets change fast quicker than ever but so can products.  I will discuss below in alternatives why I still use a dedicated tool and not a mobile app etc.

  • real time clock – nothing would be easier that setting a time for a start at a specific time on a specific day.  It eliminates many issues and makes it more likely they will start at specified time.
  • light sensor to start – due to my particular set-up especially unattended shoots it would be nice to skip the whole timer issue and catch the first light of day
  • power and lock slide switch – new models do have a power feature.  A switch button would be quicker and more reliable in my experience
  • quick reset button – it happens when the device is not pressed to lock that the settings will need to be reset.  A work around is removing the batteries but never like that method.
  • shorter interval 1/2 and 1/4 seconds example – depending on the event I’m shooting 1 second can be a life-time and like to see these options as memory cards and cameras write at ever faster speeds
  • display light – 5 seconds is fine to do a quick check.  It’s simply is not enough to set-up the intervalometer for a shoot.
  • multi-camera control – yes I would like to be able to have multiple cameras controlled by one timer device.  This is more about cable options.

Web Address http://www.phottix.com/en/wired-remotes/phottixr-tr-90.html

Alternatives:

Today there are some high end cameras with built in units but for those that don’t the TR90 is available for most camera models as long as they have a cable release port.  Phone apps with either a 3rd party receiver or internal receiver are becoming much more common today.  They offer far more flexibility but to this time reliability and simplicity are more important than a few extra bells and whistles that will drain camera and smartphone batteries.  As I’m using multiple cameras this is not something that most developers are considering.

Training and Mentoring:

As part of my mentoring and training program it’s essential you have an intervalometer and I can arrange the purchase as best pricing available.  You will experience first hand how this can take your photography in a new direction that is a road less traveled but one that will open your mind to new possibilities.  For more info on training and mentoring go to this link

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