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Z-Cage
Zap-Shot Radio Frequency Remote
Compatible with Canon EOS Rebel (300D) and Rebel XT (350D)
Review by Ron Risman - October 2005



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ZAP-SHOT RF Remote Control
Announced in early September, the ZAP-SHOT is the perfect accessory or gift for owners of the Canon EOS 300D, 350D, Rebel, or Rebel XT. What is the ZAP-SHOT? The ZAP-SHOT is a wireless remote trigger for the aforementioned Canon Digital SLRs that use Radio Frequency to trigger the shutter release of the camera. By using RF, the photographer is able to trigger the camera from up to 75 feet (or more) away and without a line-of-sight limitation. Unlike a remote cable switch, the ZAP-SHOT allows you the freedom to operate your camera's shutter without having to touch or even be near the camera. The flexibility will start to get your creative juices flowing. Just think, you'll now be able to shoot pictures that you're actually in - without having to use the customary "Ready.... Set .... RUN."

ZAP-SHOT is as simple to use as its name implies
Using the ZAP-SHOT is as simple as connecting the receiver to your compatible Canon EOS Digital SLR, sliding the power switch to the on position, and lining up the camera to frame your shot as required.

The two-button key fob allows you to control the shutter release from virtually anywhere - as long as you are no more than about 75 feet from the camera and receiver. The two buttons duplicate the half-press and full-press of the shutter. Button 1 is the equivalent of pressing the shutter release halfway, which activates the camera's auto focus and auto exposure mechanism. Button 2 is equivalent to pressing the shutter release all the way down, in order to capture the picture. You don't need to use both buttons to take the picture. If you just press Button 2 the camera will automatically focus, set the exposure, and take the picture. Button 1 is useful if you want to pre-focus the camera - which also adjusts the exposure - then rolling your thumb onto button 2 will take the picture whenever you're ready.

The ZAP-SHOT consists of two parts;

  • The receiver, which connects to the remote port of your Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT. This lightweight receiver features an antenna, internal battery, power on/off switch, and 1/8" mini plug.
  • The Transmitter; a tiny two-button controller, similar in size to your automobile's remote. The remote allows you to pre-focus the camera - equivalent to pressing half-way on the shutter release - with one button and snap the picture with the other.

This ZAP-SHOT RF remote has many uses, but for low light and natural light photography, this remote control is ideal. By placing the camera on a tripod or table, you can use the ZAP-SHOT to trigger the camera for a long exposure without having to physically press the shutter button on the camera.

    Note: When shooting in low light, you will need to set the shutter speed of the camera, also known as Tv (Time-value), to a slower setting. A slower shutter speed allows the camera to gather light from a scene for a longer period of time; however, for sharp pictures, it is critical that the camera does not shake or even vibrate while the shutter of the camera is open. Physically pressing the shutter release on the camera will add a slight blur to your images.

ZAP-SHOT vs. Canon's RC-1 and RS-60ES
You might be asking "Since Canon already makes two remote controls for the EOS Rebel / XT series, why would I want the more expensive ZAP-SHOT?" The answer is simple; Flexibility! Canon makes both a wired and infra-red wireless remote commander for the EOS Digital Rebels; however, both have limitations compared to the ZAP-SHOT.

While Canon's RC1 Wireless Remote is inexpensive ($24.95), it uses infra-red technology, which must be aimed at the front of the camera (where the receiver is), making it very difficult to trigger the camera from behind. The RC-1 has a limited range of 16.4 feet, and because it uses infra-red it will not work through windows or walls, eliminating the ability to trigger the shutter from inside your car or house. There have been countless times when I have set my camera up at the beach to capture a sunset or moonrise, the temperature close to 0 Fahrenheit, and wished I could control the camera from inside the car. It isn't much fun standing out there in the freezing cold while capturing 15 or 20 pictures - each exposure lasting 20 to 30 seconds.

The Canon RS-60E3 Wired Remote is also inexpensive ($25.95) but has an even shorter working distance thanks to the 2 ft cord that connects to the camera. The wired remote makes it difficult to get close to your subject when shooting portraits - something photographers need to do often when photographing children. It also forces you to be right near the camera at all times - eliminating the ability to capture truly candid shots of wildlife, family, children, pets, etc.

The ZAP-SHOT RF Wireless Remote ($99) has a working range of at least 75 feet and the camera doesn't have to be in view. You can trigger the camera's shutter from anywhere within this 75ft range, while the remote is in your pocket, from inside your car or house, and even through walls. Multiple ZAP-SHOT's may also be used in a couple of ways. You can use one ZAP-SHOT remote with multiple receivers to trigger many cameras simultaneously or use many remotes to trigger one receiver/camera.


While the ZAP-SHOT is the nicest remote solution for the Rebel and Rebel XT, it, like all products, isn't perfect. Since the Canon EOS Digital Rebel and Rebel XT do not feature an integrated RF receiver, you'll have to connect the small receiver to the camera and let it dangle. While this didn't pose a problem during testing, I imagine a breeze could introduce some camera vibration if the receiver were to sway during the exposure. A strip of velcro would easily solve this problem and is something that ZAP-SHOT should include.

The remote control is nice and small, but the buttons should be labeled with numbers (see Figure 1) or even the words "Shutter" / "Pre-Focus". I found myself forgetting which button was which. After concentrating on learning this, I now know that that the button closest to the keying hole is the shutter release (I think). It would also be nice to see a 2-second delay with mirror lock button - similar to Canon's infra-red remote. This would help to reduce camera shake caused by the mirror. This mode opens the mirror, then wait two-seconds before taking the picture. This delay helps to make sure that there isn't camera vibration caused by the mirror when the picture is taken. You can manually lock the mirror using the function menu of the Rebel / XT, thus achieving the same result - it's just less convenient this way.


Figure 1


    Advantages of the ZAP-SHOT

  • Great Range (75+ Feet)
  • No Line of sight required
  • Keep key-fob on your key chain
  • Designed to match the camera
  • FCC Certified
  • User replaceable batteries - with no tools
  • Multiple ZAP-SHOTS can be used to trigger the same camera - or can be set on different addresses to trigger individual cameras.


    Shooting Benefits when using the ZAP-SHOT Wireless Remote

  • Get yourself into group photographs without having to make a mad dash
  • Remote can be hidden out of view in portrait and group photographs
  • Take blur-free macro shots.
  • Allows you to trigger the camera from anywhere in your studio.
  • On a cold winter's day you can set the camera up to capture a sunrise, sunset, or moonrise while you trigger the camera from inside your warm car.
  • Set up the camera on a tripod during the holidays, then press the button on the remote anytime you want to capture a photograph. You'll even be in the photos.
  • Capture blur-free, low-light (long-exposure) images by using the camera's mirror lockup and the ZAP-SHOT remote
  • Set up the camera to capture wildlife, then hide or go back inside the house. When your subjects come into view - press the button to capture the picture. Now you can capture Hummingbirds or bees from close-up with a wide-angle lens.


Self Portrait with Remote

Self Portrait; Remote Hidden


Mini Cooper Triggered While Driving

This picture was captured sort of by accident. I went to an empty parking lot along the ocean with the idea of placing the camera on the pavement and capturing a photo of the underside of my car while driving over it. Why? Just because the ZAP-SHOT remote would allow me to. I initially placed the camera under my (stationary) car to judge the clearance and everything looked ok. I then set up the camera and used the ZAP-SHOT receiver under my lens to help tilt it up. I SLOWLY drove toward the camera snapping a few pictures along the way. Right before driving over the camera, I decided to stop and double check the clearance again. I'm glad I did. The clearance in front of the car was much lower than on the side due to a rubber "shield" that would have toppled and dragged the camera and ZAP-SHOT. While I never did get the shot I was hoping for, I did end up with the next two photographs which came out great thanks to the low angle of the camera. The moral of the story is that the ZAP-SHOT will allow you to be creative in ways never imagined.





The photograph below named "Crescent Sunset" was captured with the Canon EOS Digital Rebel XT and the ZAP-SHOT remote. It was early evening and the sun had just set, the sky pink and blue, and the crescent mood shining bright highlighted by a few stars. Camera Settings: 1.3 second shutter speed, ISO 100, F5.0 aperture, 57mm focal length, Metering mode: Average.



"Crescent Sunset"
Click To Enlarge

Thoughts for the future

Before summarizing my review, I would like to comment on some features I would like to see added to future generations of the ZAP-SHOT. The remote control should have an indicator light to let you know when a picture was taken. It was difficult, if sometimes impossible, to know for sure unless the flash was set to fire. The receiver unit should be reduced in size and include a way to temporarily mount it to the camera. The last feature that ZAP-SHOT should include is one that Canon includes on their infra-red wireless remote - a 2-second delay with mirror lockup. This feature would eliminate any vibration caused by the camera's mirror. You can set "Mirror Lockup" using custom functions on your EOS Digital Rebel / XT, but having it on the remote would be more convenient.

Conclusion

Sometimes an optional accessory can actually enhance the way you use a product, and the ZAP-SHOT is one such accessory. For many camera owners, a remote control for a camera is a luxury, but for professionals and semi-professionals it is an important tool. The ZAP-SHOT ups the ante by putting creativity and control in the hands of the photographer. The radio frequency technology used by the ZAP-SHOT allows the camera's shutter to be controlled from a distance of up to 75 feet, as well as when the camera is out of the line-of-sight. The two-button keychain-fob remote control allows the photographer to release the shutter or pre-focus the camera with just one press. The remote uses a standard CR2032 3v-battery that can be swapped without tools. This battery offers long life and can be purchased at Walmart and local camera shops.

If macro, low-light, portrait, or wildlife photography interest you, then the ZAP-SHOT should be on your must have list and in your camera bag. The ZAP-SHOT is not available in stores as of yet; however, you can order the ZAP-SHOT direct for $99.00 plus $11.80 for shipping. ZAP-SHOT ships to the U.S. or Canada using DHL or USPS Priority Air Mail. Our unit camera packed in a rather plain padded envelope with instructions. Batteries were pre-installed and everything arrived in perfect condition.

Purchase the ZAP-SHOT Today
You can purchase the ZAP-SHOT direct for only $99.99. Visit www.ZAPSHOT.com today.






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