The triumphant return of the RC-1

I’ve got way too many posts where I recognize that I haven’t been posting enough, so let’s just say “ditto” and move on.

Back in 1997, I think, I got my first “serious” camera, the Canon Elan IIe. It’s relative, of course – while the Elan IIe was never considered a professional grade camera, it was a huge step up from the secondhand Olympus bodies I’d been using before then, and new to boot. With it came one of the brightest ideas Canon ever had, a simple infra-red remote control called the RC-1. Half the size of a cigarette lighter, the RC-1 could not only be used to trigger the shutter remotely (for, you know, the old-school style of selfies,) it could be set for two-second mirror lockup delay. The utility of this takes a little explaining. The sudden sharp movement of the reflex mirror within the SLR body sets up a small degree of vibration, and when doing very high magnification work, such as with a long focal length and a slower shutter speed, this vibration was enough to actually blur the image slightly in certain conditions. Thus, getting the mirror movement out of the way two seconds before the shutter opened could eradicate this vibration and make the images sharper. And of course, the remote could also be used for camera traps, or long exposures of the night sky without touching the camera (and setting up vibrations from that.)

The best part about it was the price, about 20 bucks when I bought it, unprecedented for just about any kind of camera equipment. It even came with a little click-in holder that could attach to the camera strap, and while I never use camera straps (hate the damn things,) mine went onto the zipper tab of the main camera bag and was always available.

Unfortunately, the remote didn’t work with the EOS 3 I later switched to, but I still had the Elan IIe as backup, so I kept it on the bag. Years later I got my first DSLR body, the first edition Digital Rebel (the grey one,) and I found that the RC-1 could be used for that, and so it came back into rotation. I think I even got a spare when I purchased that body, though my original from 1997 was still working fine (and on only its third set of batteries, I believe – it really doesn’t use much power.)

Then a few years back, I switched over to the 30D (in case you haven’t determined by now, I don’t chase the latestgreatest nor worry about ‘professional’ equipment – it’s the photographer that makes the shots.) The RC-1, naturally, did not work with the 30D. I finally detached it from the bag and packed it away, sorry to see it go. I don’t understand Canon’s attitude, from both price and lack-of-option on the higher bodies, that this is a amateur/tourist bit of equipment, but so it goes.

beat-up Canon RC-1 remote with custom battery coverAnd then, just recently, I picked up a Rebel T2i body solely for the option of doing video work, and once again, it works with the RC-1, even though the model has now been discontinued and is supplanted by the RC-6. Even more usefully, it will trigger video recording (this has to be activated within the menu,) so it will come in useful for the high magnification macro work where the camera will be locked onto a tripod to avoid inducing motion sickness from the viewer – I will be able to start and stop recording without touching/wiggling the camera. So yeah, welcome back!

That’s my original in the pic, though it’s safe to say it doesn’t normally look like that. On a trip to the north Georgia waterfalls (the same trip where this was taken,) I fumbled the little thing from my grasp and dropped it down a steep trail. I recovered the remote, but the battery door had popped off and gone missing. In need of one before a new remote could be shipped to me and good with plastic working, I fashioned a new battery door from clear acrylic as an interim fix, and the damn thing still remains.

You can even see it in the pic for this post, which not only shows how small the RC-1 is, it tells you which camera was used for that photo.