Fstoppers Reviews the Case Remote Plus, a Wireless DSLR Controller

Fstoppers Reviews the Case Remote Plus, a Wireless DSLR Controller

More and more companies are incorporating Wi-Fi into their cameras in an effort to make it easy to download and share images without the need to upload to a computer. The apps from camera manufacturers also allow you to remotely trigger the camera from your phone and see what you are taking a picture of before you trip the shutter. The problem here is that if you want to change any camera settings, you need to physically make these changes on the camera. Enter the Case Remote Plus. This device promises to give full access to camera settings, live view, shutter release and a host of other added functionalities that may not even be available on your camera.

Design

First let’s talk about the actual device. On one side of the device is the power switch with your normal on/off functions, but there is a third option on the switch which has a little battery symbol with lightning bolt inside of it. When the switch is set to this third option, the device will actually double as a portable battery to charge your cell phone or tablet. I couldn’t find any information on how big the battery in the remote actually is, but with a reported run time of 15 hours, I assume it has enough juice in it to give your cell phone a decent charge.

On the front of the device is where you connect the remote to your camera. To do this, you use the USB cable that came with your camera and plug the USB end into the remote. There is also another port that looks like a phone jack and I have no idea what that’s used for?

On the other side of the device is the system info. This is where you will see a blue light when the device is on and activated. When this blue light is flashing, then you know that the remote's internal Wi-Fi hotspot is activated and ready for you to connect your phone. When the blue light is solid, then you know you are successfully paired to the remote. There is also a battery button that when pressed will show a set of green lights to display the current battery level.

On this side of the remote there is also another switch that has three different positions. The switch doesn’t actually have any purpose at this current time though and is instead only present for added functionality in the future. The only bad thing about the actual device is that there are no mounting options. No hot shoe mount, no threaded hole, no nothing. I had to use a rubber band to secure it to my tripod.

The App

The app is where the brains of this operation reside. Once you have the app installed onto your phone and your phone is connected to the remote's Wi-Fi hotspot, you can now open the app and have full control of your camera. The main interface of the app has a number of selections:

Left side

M, A, S, or red box - This is where the app tells you what your camera is set to (manual, aperture priority, etc.). It will show a red box if that app doesn’t know what the setting is such as U1 or U2. Clicking this also opens the menu where you can change all the available settings on the camera. You can also swipe from the left edge of the screen to pull this menu out.

Camera - This is how you select the screen where can actually capture images. This is the main screen shown by default when opening the app.

Features - Allows you to select some of the special features of the app such as HDR, focus stacking, bulb mode, etc.

Explore - This is where you can view all the images that are currently on the camera and have the ability to download them.

Settings - This is where you can change the settings for the app. Whether the app will automatically download images, add GPS location to the image, and so on.

Right side

Eye - The eye on the top right allows you to turn on live view (if available on your camera).

Camera - This camera button allows you to switch between stills and video.

Large circle - This is the shutter button.

Box - The little box that is partially hidden by the shutter button is the focus button. You can press this to have the camera focus on the pre-selected focus point. If you have live view activated, you can tap the screen to have the app move the focus point and focus.

Three sliders - This is the quick setting where you can assign three camera functions that you want easier access to changing. 

You can also see all the current camera settings displayed across the bottom of the screen.

Basic Operation

The basic operation of the app is pretty straightforward. All the settings are lined out and it’s easy to maneuver between menus. When shooting images, I pretty much always had the live view function activated and the refresh rate wasn’t anything to write home about, but it worked. The touch to focus also worked and was slow, but seemed pretty accurate. When standing next to the camera (and therefore the remote), everything seemed pretty fast. I would change a setting in the app and half a second later it would change on the camera. The problem came when I put any sort of distance between the app and the remote. I wanted to use this remote so that I could do some light painting and not have to be running back and forth. But when I set out to do my first attempt, I pressed the shutter button and started to work, only to find out that the shutter took a solid 5–10 seconds to actually trip. OK, lesson learned. The next time I hit the shutter button I waited to hear the actual shutter click. After doing my light painting and hearing the click from the exposure ending, I went to the app to review the image.

It might be hard to tell, but the image preview above is 100 percent useless. It’s completely blurry when looking at it on my phone. The only thing I can tell when looking at the image is that an image was taken. It’s a blurry mess, so I can’t tell if my light painting is good or if I need to try again. I can’t even tell if the image is in focus and there is no options to zoom in and check focus.

From here I decided to go into the app and download the full-res image, only to find more bad news. After downloading the image I realized that the app is only downloading the raw file. I always shoot raw plus JPEG and the app doesn’t give you the option to download the JPEG instead of the raw. So in order to check focus I would have to wait and download a giant raw file, wait for an app to load this file, then check focus. I ended up having to walk back and forth to the camera in order to check, completely defeating the main reason I wanted to use this remote. Also, when the camera is plugged into the remote, it thinks it’s hooked up to a computer which locks up most menu and playback functions. So in order to review an image, you have to unplug the remote. At least I was happy with the image.

Added Features

Ok, so the main reason I wanted the remote was to take images away from the camera. That doesn’t seem to be what it was designed for, so I decided to take a look at the added features. Below are all of the things you can do.

The first thing I wanted to check out was bracketing. I wanted to take an HDR image of a scene and see what kind of options I had (plus it was the first option on the list). When I got into the bracketing menu, I was disappointed to see that I could only bracket the ISO. This seemed really weird to me so I reset the app thinking maybe it was a glitch, made sure my camera was set to full manual, and tried again. Sure enough though, the only option within the bracketing menu is ISO. It works like it should, but I have never had a reason to bracket my ISO.


 
Bulb mode worked as it should and gives you the option to set how long you want the shutter to be open for. You have the option of setting your desired exposure time by minutes and seconds.

The continuous feature, I assume, is so you can press the button to start the camera shooting and it will shoot continuously until you press the shutter button again. I say assume though, because I was never able to get this feature to work, even after numerous attempts.

HDR worked as it should as well, but there were some aspects of this feature that I found annoying. The first thing is that I couldn’t tell the difference between HDR and bracketing. Minus the fact that bracketing only had ISO, they both do pretty much the same thing. HDR even has ISO as an option, so the bracketing feature seems redundant. The biggest annoyance though is that there is no plus and minus option. The way I have always done HDR is to find my middle exposure and take images that are plus and minus the exposure from the middle. The way this app works is that you tell the app if you want to go up or down in exposure and by how many stops. For example, if you are taking a five-shot HDR image with one stop between each image, normally you would set you middle exposure then set the camera to do two shots below and two shots above. Instead, you have to set the camera to the two stops below, then tell the app to take five shots at plus one. It’s really confusing.

I didn’t dive too deep into the time-lapse and focus-stacking features, but did a little playing and they seem to work as they should. I have just never done very much with these aspects of photography so I’m not entirely sure what would be good or bad features to have. If you have questions about these feel free to ask in the comments and I can take a look for you. I will note that the focus-stacking works with the same mentality as the HDR. You set a focus point and then the app will either go up or down in focus. So you would have to play a weird guessing game to figure out where you need to start focus in order to get your desired focus point in the middle.

Pros

  • Easy to setup and use
  • Live view works and focusing seems to be accurate and fairly fast when next to the camera
  • Ability to download raw files to your phone for editing
  • Physical switches with options for future updates give hope of added features and support

Cons

  • Features don’t work, have missing functionality, or have a quirky way they need to be set
  • Putting distance between the remote and your phone causes significant lag
  • No way to download JPEG files instead of raw files
  • The image preview after shooting is unusable for checking anything besides knowing you took an image

Conclusion

The Case Remote Plus has some good ideas and features. The app is easy to use and is generally responsive, though the bugs within the app make the device almost unusable. I should also state that I'm using the latest app and the latest version of the remote firmware. The biggest drawback for me, that I can’t see myself working around, is the lack of image review from within the app. Priced at $149.99, it is on the cheaper side compared to the CamRanger, but needs a lot of work done to the app in order for features to be fully usable.

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13 Comments

Justin Haugen's picture

I wonder if in a year if the app and firmware will improve. One thing I love about the CamRanger in 3 years of owning it, is that that functionality has improved with updates. I haven't had to buy a new model (they haven't made one yet to my knowledge anyway) and it's even more awesome than when I started using it.

Jason Vinson's picture

that's definitely a possibility. All the issues could be fixed with a good app/firmware update.

Prefers Film's picture

My Canon app lets me change the focus point, set aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. Probably more, but that's all I use. And the previews look fine.

Jacques Cornell's picture

"The problem here is that if you want to change any camera settings, you need to physically make these changes on the camera."
Jason, you write as if this were true for all cameras. It betrays a DSLR-centric perspective. I can do all this stuff and more on my iPhone with my Panasonic Micro Four Thirds cameras out of the box.

Jason Vinson's picture

yes, i should have also mentioned that this device will work on cameras that don't have WiFi built into the camera. If your camera has WiFi and all the abilities built into it then this remote isn't anything you would need.

pramod jois's picture

can i get a live output when taking video ??

Jason Vinson's picture

good question. I'll check later today.

Stephen Kampff's picture

Please do would love to hear about it! Could be really handy for using a Canon DSLR on a gimbal rig.

When it's on the Ronin-M, a monitor would be handy but you'd still have to control focus and things physically.

Jay Jay's picture

There's a manufacturer called Xsories that puts out a similar unit called the XSories WEFE Weye-Feye- the difference is that shell has a lot of rubber around it for protection and with the iphone/android app, can download *only* jpgs to your device (i think you can choose to do raw too if you want). Remote control via the app works great and it's 100 bucks. App is about the same as this one, though i don't recall being able to do focus stacking or hdr... but everything else like the focusing and timer, etc is available.

Never heard or seen one before until i started talking with a photog who was shooting an event for Redbull and he was using the orange little gadget to upload his photos during the event. I bought one and haven't had a single problem with it since i got it in May. Info on the web is very sparse on it, but i love mine. Amazon carries it. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EDJXKM4/ref=s9_hps_bw_g421_i3

And of course with the 9.2 ios update, you can finally import jpgs off your memory card via a lightning to sd reader for the iphone- that cable is $30 (until the chinese copy it for $5, of course)

Jason Vinson's picture

I actually plan to review the XSories unit soon!

Jay Jay's picture

I don't use it as much as i used to, but it's rock solid every time i use it (and doesn't once drop connection like the eye-fi's famously do (don't get me started on them) :)

Mike Constable's picture

If you are a Canon shooter and want this ability at a very low cost check on DSLR controller http://dslrcontroller.com/. Allows you to change focus points, A-B pull, WB, Shutter, aperture, ISO, jpg view, preview while shooting video, Wi-Fi pass-through so clients/art directors can see the images on another screen...etc.

You buy the TP-LINK TL-MR3040 for $32, preform a firmware update, install the app on an Android device and boom wireless control. If you look close at the TP-Link device is looks very similar to the CamRanger unit.

Jay Jay's picture

I could never get my tp-link to work the way it was supposed to as a wireless tether- not on an ipad and not on my kindle, so i gave up. The Weye-Feye unit i picked up on amazon essentially does the exact same thing and works great right out of the box. Also has apps for both os's which let's you control it too.