With HDR and time-lapse photography being so popular these days, the biggest challenge for photographers is figuring out how to shoot these images. Many DSLRs (but not all!) have automatic bracketing functions that allow some frames to be bracketed for an HDR shot. And Nikon even introduced a time-lapse movie function in some of its latest DSLRs. While these functions are handy to have in-camera, wouldn't it be nice to have one unit that offers these functions, and many more? Recently I had the chance to try out Promote Control, a camera remote system. But this is no ordinary cable release.
Promote Control looks similar to other digital cable releases; a nice LCD screen and various buttons allow you to choose and control the settings. But it is the list of features that catches the eye:
-single button standard shooting and ability to program very long exposures
-HDR mode that allows bracketing of 45 shots with up to 9.0 EV steps between exposures
-full time-lapse capability including shooting HDR time-lapse sequences
-automatic bulb ramping
-programmable focus stacking sequences (with Canon cameras)
-hyperfocal distance calculator
-DC power port for really long time-lapse sequences (when your battery is going to run out)
When I received mine in the mail, I did what I always do with new gear; I didn't read the instructions, I just plugged in the cable release cord and USB cord to my D800. Then I held the power button down on the Promote Control a couple of seconds, and on came the LCD menu. I found navigating through the different modes and changing the settings only took a few minutes to figure out. Of course Promote Control has many instructional videos and an updated instruction manual for the latest version on their website. For many modes, you may not even need to reference this manual. For other modes, like bulb ramping, you will need to watch the video to fully understand how this works. If you are wondering what bulb ramping is all about, this is a technique that changes exposure during a wide ranging exposure during a time-lapse sequence; think day to night sequences where the exposure is changing 10-15 stops or more. Promote Control gives you a controlled means to gradually change the exposure in small increments during a day to night sequence, which will give you a flicker-free time-lapse movie (created in post production). I used to manually change my exposure during a long time-lapse, but now I can simply program it into Promote Control, start the sequence and walk away.
Promote Control also allows you to set and change focus during exposures, allowing focus stacking to get incredible depth of field in an image. Another feature that I will use a lot is the incredible HDR capabilities of this remote. You have more options than you will need; up to 45 images at 9 stops apart in exposure. Within minutes out of the box I was setting up 10 stop HDR sequences (turn your long exposure noise reduction off) at 1 stop increments. Now I can go way past what my camera offers with automatic exposure bracketing.
If you interested in time-lapse or HDR photography, Promote Control will offer you loads of advanced features. And if you want a simple cable release that you can use to program long exposures, this remote does that and much more. Retail price is $329.