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Z-Cage

ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 Wireless Remote Control
for Select Digital Cameras

Reviewed by Ron Risman, March 2007

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Zap-SHOT ZS-2 Wireless Remote Control Introduction

For many camera owners a remote control is either not needed or a luxury that you can live without, but professionals, semi-professionals, and photo hobbyists know that using a remote control, whether tethered or wireless, can be a real life saver for certain applications such as night photography and macro photography, and is a great tool for shooting group portraits and candid's.

The ZAP-SHOT is a wireless remote control that uses RF (Radio Frequency) technology to provide up to a 100' working distance as well as the ability to work through windows and walls - no line of sight needed. The ZAP-SHOT wireless remotes are compatible with the Canon EOS Rebel XT/XTi series (300D/350D/400D in Europe) as well as Pentax DSLR's and select Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras (see compatibility list below).

I reviewed the original ZAP-SHOT ZS-1 RF wireless remote control last October and loved it. The ZAP-SHOT is one of those "luxury" accessories that just might change the way you shoot - forever. Just imagine what type of wildlife shots you could get if you didn't have to stand near the camera or the ability to put yourself into family pictures without having to play "beat-the-clock" against the self-timer - and since the remote uses RF technology you can keep the keychain-size remote hidden from view.

In February the company announced the ZAP-SHOT ZS-2, adding new functionality to an already great product.

New ZAP-SHOT ZS-2

The new ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 is a step-up from the original ZAP-SHOT ZS-1 and offers all of the features found in the original while adding a new 3-button remote (the original remote had 2-buttons) with added functionality and a bright red status LED on the receiver. While the LED indicator light on the receiver is a welcome addition and provides helpful status when shooting from a distance, it is not an indication that the picture was actually taken. If the camera is unable to take the picture for any reason (memory card full, can't find focus, camera not on, no memory card, etc.) the receiver's LED will still light up red when it receives the command. Still, the LED is a welcome addition since it still serves as a good reminder that the receiver is turned on and functioning and that it has received the shutter release command from the remote.

The new 3-button remote control retains the compact shape and size as the original while adding a new shutter 'lock' button. The operation of each of the three buttons is described here:

Top Button(AE / AF)
Pressing the top button on the remote is the equivalent of "half pressing" the shutter and activates the auto focus and auto exposure - without taking the picture.

Middle Button (Shutter)
Pressing the middle button on the remote is the equivalent of a full press of the shutter - in where it the cameras focuses, sets exposure and takes the picture.

If you prefer to preset the focus and/or exposure you can press and hold the top button, then simultaneously press the middle button when you're ready to trigger the shutter.

If your camera is set to "Mirror Lockup," pressing the middle button the first time will open the mirror, pressing it again will take the picture.
    Mirror lock is often used by photographers when shooting night scenes or using long exposures as it helps to reduce image blur caused by the vibration created when the mirror is flipped out of the way (of the image sensor). An SLR uses a mirror to reflect the image seen by the camera (actually the lens) up to the viewfinder, but needs to be moved out of the way during the shutter release so that the image seen by the lens can be captured by the camera's sensor.
When using "Mirror Lockup" with the "Bulb" setting in your camera - you would press the middle button once to do a "Mirror Lock," then press and HOLD the button again for the length of the exposure you desire. You can also use the new 3rd button 'LOCK' instead, which keeps you from having to continuously press on the middle button during a long exposure.

New 3rd Button (Lock)
The new (3rd) bottom button is labeled "lock" and when shooting in most modes is the equivalent of holding down (not just pressing) the shutter button on the camera. Using this button in these modes allows for hands-free continuous shooting.

When shooting in "Bulb" mode (not available on all cameras) the LOCK button can be used to control the length of the exposure without having to hold the button down. Press once to open the shutter, press it again to close the shutter - thus ending the exposure.

The 'Lock' button can also be used with your camera's 'Mirror Lockup' mode (if available). In 'Mirror lockup' mode (see camera manual) the new 'Lock' button functions as follows:
  • First press enables 'Mirror Lockup'
  • Second press turns off the RED indicator light on the receiver.
  • Third press activates and HOLDS the shutter to start the exposure
  • Fourth press releases the shutter to end the exposure. The camera is now ready to take more pictures.

Wireless RF for Invisible Control

Since the ZAP-SHOT remote doesn't need line-of-sight, you'll be able to get into all of your family pictures while controlling the camera's shutter from the remote hidden in your pocket or from behind the back of the person next to you. Unlike a self-timer there's no rushing into the picture and you remain in full control of the picture taking process.

In the photo to the right my sister and I posed for a photo which I snapped using the ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 remote.

During my review of the original ZAP-SHOT I got a little bit creative and decided to snap a photo of the underside of my MINI while driving over the camera. I set the camera on the pavement and used the ZAP-SHOT receiver below my lens to act as a tilt. I then carefully drove toward the camera snapping pictures from inside the car as I drove up to it. The photo below is one that I captured using the ZAP-SHOT ZS-1 remote.



I never ended up actually driving over the camera as I was smart enough to double check the clearance and realized my original measurement was incorrect (phew). Because the ZAP-SHOT will work through walls and windows and does not need line-of-sight the creative possibilities are endless.

If you live in a cold climate and have ever gone out to shoot a sunrise or sunset on a frigid day, you'll appreciate the ability to sit inside the car while triggering the camera. Come to think of it, the ZAP-SHOT remote should be as important to a photographer as a warm pair of gloves. Maybe ZAP-SHOT should use this slogan - "Stay warm while taking cool photographs."

ZAP-SHOT Comparability
The ZAP-SHOT has mainly been marketed as an accessory that is compatible with the Canon EOS Rebel XT/XTi (300D/350D/400D) DSLR's, however the ZAP-SHOT is also compatible with Pentax Digital SLR's and many Sony Cyber-shot digital cameras. See the compatibility list below:

Canon Film/Digital Cameras with RS60-E3 remote switch connector
  • Canon EOS 300D
  • Canon EOS 350D
  • Canon EOS 400D
  • Canon EOS Rebel XT
  • Canon EOS Rebel XTi

Pentax cameras with SC-205 cable switch port

  • Pentax K10D
  • Pentax K100D
  • Pentax K110D
  • Pentax *ist D
  • Pentax *ist DS
  • Pentax *ist DL
  • Pentax *ist DL2
  • Pentax MZ6

Select Sony Cyber-shot Digital Cameras (adapter required*)

  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V3
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F828
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-R1
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F717
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-F707
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S85
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-S75
  • Sony Cyber-shot DSC-V1
  • Sony Cyber-shot MVC-CD500
  • Sony Cyber-shot MVC-CD400
  • Sony Cyber-shot MVC-CD300
  • * These Sony cameras have an "ACC" interface, which is a serial bus, therefore an interface adapter is needed to connect the ZapShot to the select Sony camera models listed above. A company called JG-IC makes the JG-RS1 Remote Shutter Release Interface that allows the ZapShot to connect to these Sony camera models. Get additional information on the JG-RS1 Remote Shutter Release Interface.

RF vs. Infrared vs. Cable Remote
The ZAP-SHOT wireless remotes are different from other camera remotes in that they use Radio Frequency (RF) technology instead of infrared. The advantages that RF technology have over infrared is distance, the ability to work wirelessly in bright conditions, and the ability to work without a line-of-sight to the camera.

The ZAP-SHOT RF remotes will work up to 100' away and will work even when there is no line-of-sight (i.e. through walls & windows). In comparison, infrared remotes typically have a much shorter operating range, need to be in direct line-of-sight to the camera, and certain lighting such as sunlight and fluorescent lights can wash out the infrared signal - rendering them inoperative.

The benefits of a long working range and the ability to "hide" the remote (and yourself) from view will allow to capture great candid and wildlife shots. The freedom to move around a room while the camera is setup on a tripod provides for fun photographs during parties and family gatherings, and let's not forget the benefits when shooting night scenes or long exposures.

Comparison Chart
Remote with Cable Wireless (IR) Remote Wireless RF Remote
Range is limited to the cable length (2'-15' Average)

A Cable is hard to hide in Self / Group Portraits

Might not be usable in crowded areas

During long exposures - the cable could cause some slight camera sway depending on movement and wind
Performance range is often limited to 15-20 ft and can be unusable in certain lighting (fluorescent / sunlight)

Operates only in front or back of camera (depending on sensor location on camera)

Remote or unnatural arm position will be visible in self portraits since line-of-sight is needed

Continuous shooting not possible since IR is very slow (5-20 seconds between pictures)
Range of 100 feet

Operates from any
direction - even through walls and windows

You can trigger the camera with the remote hidden behind a back or in your pocket (both natural poses), making it great for self / group portraits

Great for capturing wildlife, long exposures without going near the camera, and candid group shots.

ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 Specifications:
General

  • Frequency 433.92 MHz (SM band)
  • Range 100 ft / 30 meters (depends on environment)
  • Standard battery types for both receiver and remote control unit
  • Easily replace batteries without tools
  • FCC and CE Certified

Receiver
  • 2.5 mm stereo plus (connects to the remote control terminal of the camera)
  • (NEW) Bright LED for operation indication
  • ON / OFF Switch
  • Dimensions: (BOX) 3.07 x 1.46 x 0.83 inches
    (ANTENNA LENGTH) - 1.38 inches
    (CABLE LENGTH) - 4 inches
  • Weight: 1.8 ounces
  • Battery: CR123A 3V Photo Lithium

Remote Controller
  • Key fob type
  • Three Button Operation
    (AF-AE / Shutter / Lock)
  • Dimensions: 2.28" x 1.38" x 0.45"
  • Weight: 0.5 ounces
  • Battery: CR2032 3v Lithium


Fixes / Suggestions
With the new ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 model, new functionality was added making a good product even better, but I think more could have been done to correct some of the minor flaws of the original. Here are my thoughts on this:

  • The receiver still hangs next to the camera - no mount provided. A small square of velcro would be an inexpensive solution but ZAP-SHOT should also consider a more stable solution such as a slide-in "hot-shoe" adapter.
  • The new LED indicator light should reflect (if possible) the camera's success at taking the picture. If the camera is unable to take the picture (camera not on, full memory card, etc.) the receiver should sense this and prevent its activity LED from lighting up, thus alerting the photographer.
  • The LED activity light on the receiver should be visible from either side of the receiver. Maybe on the tip of the antenna?

Conclusion

Like the original ZAP-SHOT ZS-1, the ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 is one of the best wireless remote controls available for the cameras mentioned in the compatibility list. Whether or not you need a wireless remote control is really something only you can answer. If you love macro photography, night photography, long exposures, find yourself shooting group portraits or would enjoy getting into more of your pictures, then I recommend getting one of the ZAP-SHOT remote controls.

The new ZAP-SHOT ZS-2 sells for $129, while the original ZS-1 model sells for $99. The ZS-2 adds a shutter 'lock' button to the remote control as well as a bright red LCD activity light on the receiver. Keep in mind that the LED does not actually confirm that a picture was taken, only that the receiver is on and receiving shutter release signals from the remote. If the camera is unable take a picture for any reason (camera was off, couldn't find focus, memory card full, etc.) the red LED activity light will still function.

The new features in the new ZS-2 are welcome but I'm not sure if they are worth a 30% premium. ZAP-SHOT should consider adding additional value to the new ZS-2 by including a receiver mount of some kind (See suggestions area) and maybe even a small pouch or carrying case.

With that said, you won't be disappointed owning either of the ZAP-SHOT wireless remote controls. The build quality is excellent, the reliability is flawless, the batteries are replaceable without tools and can be found at your local Radio Shack or Walmart (we haven't had the need to replace the batteries in either model we have tested), and the fun you'll have using them will show up in your end result.

You can purchase the ZAP-SHOT ZS-1 ($99) or ZS-2 ($129) direct from ZAP-SHOT. ZAP-SHOT is currently throwing in a free lanyard for the remote, allowing you to wear it around your neck. This is a better solution (in my opinion) that placing it on your keychain. ZAP-SHOT includes a 30 day money-back guarantee and charges $19.95 for FedEx International Priority delivery (1-2 days to the U.S. and Canada).

Visit the ZAP-SHOT Website today.

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