I can be hard on gear. If it could talk, it would tell you some horror stories. I recently lost yet another remote control shutter release to some kind of electrical failure while shooting stars on a cold winter night. It is probably my third unit in less than two years. Before heading over to B&H Photo to buy another one, I decided to check out iPhone apps to see if I could find a better solution. I am very glad I did.
DSLR.bot is a feature rich iPhone app that allows for multiple remote control and timing features on most DSLR cameras. Everything from simple shutter release options to long exposures, intervolmeter features, HDR bracketing, and much more. While it is not perfect and there are some limitations, for $4.99 it does everything my last $99 unit could do and it is always with me via my phone.
If there is a catch at all, it is that your iPhone will need a small transmitter that you plug into the headphone jack. DSLR.bot works by sending an infrared transmission via the transmitter to your camera's built in infrared rteceiver. These light pulses are translated into binary codes that have corresponding commands. DSLRbot now sells transmitters for a little more than one Andrew Jackson, but there are also some great tutorials online to make your own.
In the Arts & Crafts world, I am more art than craft. But I tackled making my own transmitter and it was super easy and a lot of fun to put something together that adds so much functionality to my photography. Here are the basic parts you need and some online tutorial links.
I used a nail file and some super glue to take the small ridge off the LED lights and file down a flat spot on each one so they set nicely together. You will read all about that in one of the tutorials. While I also tried it without soldering the connections, it is definitely more reliable to take the 10 seconds you need to solder everything.
Cost: $4.99 plus transmitter parts if you make your own or $26.99 if you order your transmitter directly from DSLRbot ($4.99 app + $22 transmitter).
Pros: Cheap iPhone app, always in my pocket, upgradeable, easy to install, works.
Cons: Requires an “extra” piece, shutter speed is limitations, must be line of sight