This is gonna be a long guide to semi omni presence so lets skip my quirky banter and just dive right into it.
In no order of importance the following pieces of equipment are what I needed for me to successfully setup a remote camera and have it reliable shoot under most circumstances
Equipment needed for remote camera
- 2 DSLR’s I shoot nikon so for me I’d be using any two of the following bodies D800, D7000, d300s or D2h. I do have a preference as to which bodies I pair though Pocket Wizard Pluss II, III, Multimax or Plus X (any will do, the multimax is best from what I now understand from using the Plus II and researching the Plus III and Multimax)
- Lens (I typically go wide angle as it suits my needs better) (Tokina 11 – 16 or sometimes I’ll use a nikon 18-200mm, it all depends though)
- Gaffer Tape (yes tape, McGyver wouldn’t have it any other way)
- Support System (Gorilla Pod, Super Clamp or if you got one an Fplate (something I’m contemplating picking up at some point when the budget allows))
- Remote Release Cables for Pocket Wizard to Nikon 10pin and or nikon MC-DC2 Connector (I use the Flash Zebra versions, the oem pocket wizard remote cables are available as well for a few dollars more)
- Elastic Bands ( I actually tend to use those elastic scruchi things that i use to keep my locks out my face as they are more durable than cheap elastic band )
- Camera Bag rain coat. (always something to keep from your old photo bags, they really come in handy)
Okay now that we’ve made our checklist of items required to pull of a successful remote camera setup lets walk through each element and set it up.
Setting up your Remote Camera
Grab your Camera’s in this case its a Nikon D300s ensure that your battery is fully charged. I use the MB-D10 battery grip so I get a boost in FPS as well as an additional battery in the camera So typically power is not an issue.
Ensure your all set on storage as well, start with blank cards. and if your not doing this on a regular you should fix it. import your images make back ups and scrub your cards man it sucks when you run out of space on the job because of previous work on a card.
Okay now lets get a lens on that remote camera and Do the same thing for the trigger camera as well. (i won’t walk you through that setup)
Now grab both your pocket wizards set the Transmit mode to “both” from the three options of Local, Both and Remote. I’ve found it works just as well as if you identify one camera as local and the other as remote haven’t noticed a lag of any sort. Ensure your channel is the same on both Pocket Wizards. if there are other shooters shooting remotely it would be a awesome idea to figure out who’s on what channel and ensure your not triggering someone else’s camera and vice versa when its game time. Oh please ensure you remember to switch your wizards on, it would be mighty embarrassing for you to leave em off.
Mount a pocket wizard to the trigger both camera’s hot shoe and screw lock it down securely to the camera. Its not a requirement for the wizard to be in the remote camera hot shoe, its just a safe place to put it so its not just there on the floor or hanging from the camera.
Set your camera to Manual Focus as autofocus will ruin everything as the camera will hunt to focus and by the time you get your shot your subject has already woodshed past the angle of view you’ve set up.
Set your focal point that you think will aptly capture what you want. and I’d advise the use of a small aperture to keep your depth of field as wide as possible well thats all dependent on needs and taste but it works for me, keeps everything in focus.. After setting the focal point you want Grab a Piece of gaffer tape and just lay it over the focus ring of the lens and ensure part of it is on the non moving part of the lens so the focus ring can not turn. This means your focus point is locked in and as long as your remote camera is staying at that spot you’ve got nothing to worry about.
Take your Remote Trigger Cable and put the 3.5mm jack into the Camera / Flash Port on the Pocket Wizard Transceiver. Connect the other end of the cable to the Camera Body, if its the 10pin cable then it can be secured with a screw lock (saves you the embarrassment of walking back to the camera to realise the cable fell off and you triggered nothing for the last couple races or whatever it is your shooting)
In the event that you need to make some adjustments to your camera settings, in menu or look at the image review to check your exposure you can flip the switch on the pocket wizard which suppresses the pre-release condition enabling you to fiddle with camera settings just remember to turn it back on when your through..
Press the test button on the trigger camera and see if your remote camera is triggering properly. you can also just fire off a couple exposures on the trigger camera and see if the remote camera shoots simultaneously and consistently.
Okay now the camera is all set to go do its job you just need to put it where it needs to be. I utilise the Joby gorilla pod as my means of support I like the flexibility it offers, sometimes I mount it to to railings at the horse race track or I spread the tripod legs and lay it flat on the floor at track and field events at the finish line or behind the goal for football etc, whatever works best in the situation for the sport. There are other and better suited support options though.
There’s the super clamp which I think is way better for mounting to a railing or anything of that sort. Way less possibility of movement / camera shifting you feel way safer with regards to your camera not falling.
There is my favourite option the Fplate which just makes all the sense in the world. for the low angle stuff. with the plate you can use any pro bullhead and mount any lens you want on that setup. from fish eye and ultra wide angle to a 400mm. For the most part it seems the Fplate is the industry standard with remote camera shooting at sporting events. I’ve seen videos of them at nfl games to basketball to football to olympics.
Lastly There’s the rain coat and the elastic band / hair scruchi thingy, What in gods name do you do with that. The thing about a remote camera is you typically use it to shoot from angles you can’t be during the event. the weather is no one’s friend but its own and living in the tropics rain falls all the time so I’ll setup my camera cover it with my rain camera bag rain coat and use the elastic band to wrap around the lens so the coat doesn’t cover the lens if the wind picks up Take that elements #waternationproof #airnationproof
If your shooting sports you’d more than likely have your trigger camera in continuous high drive mode. ensure your remote camera is in the same drive mode, it would be most unfortunate if you had it on single. most unfortunate.
Tips!! Now for the tips for remote camera shooting
- Use Fast storage cards, CF or SD doesn’t matter just make sure they’re fast.
- Use Camera’s with the same or at least fairly Close FPS rates my typical combo is the Nikon D2H as remote and the nikon D300s as trigger despite having newer and better resolution camera’s with faster focusing the frame fps matters when shooting sports especially with a remote camera. Having equivalent fps gives me a real idea of what each camera’s getting.
- Be mindful of your camera’s buffer limit, don’t just let her rip, spray and pray method. You may actually miss the moment you need because your buffer was full.
- Forget about raw. I know a lot of people are hung up on this one but for anyone shooting sports seriously Raw is not a realistic option your fps becomes a joke due to the massive file size which affects buffer limit and storage time.
- Be mindful of the changes in the light. in the event that a lot of clouds roll in and it looks like they aren’t going anywhere you’ll need to adjust your exposure to match the next chance you get or risk a bunch of unusable under exposed images.
- Be mindful of the distance of the remote camera as the triggers are rated for 1500 feet communication, if your using a Multimax you’ll have the option of the long-range mode but just keep in mind your distance
- Last but definitely not least KEEP AN EYE ON YOUR REMOTE CAMERA, its not unheard of for a remote camera to be stolen I’ve been contemplating using an extra long bike locking cable with a combo lock to secure my camera to the rail or whatever i can mount it to that’s pretty much impossible to move.
I Covered a manning cup match recently and used the same setup pictured above behind the goal and i got a really great photo opportunity. unfortunately based on the camera’s angle I didn’t get the image as perfect as I wanted. I’m contemplating bringing a bigger tripod for some more elevation for the next game I cover. on another note the Pro and Con situation with the D2h has me re-evaluating it as the Remote Camera, The resolution and pixel density is so low there is little room for error with relation to exposure. however the other camera’s are definitely notably slower and the FPS is definitely important in this case.