DSLR accessories

Canon Wireless Remote Control RC1: It’s limitations

Written by Gail Bjork

The Canon Wireless Remote Control RC1 for Digital Rebel cameras has limitations. For some photographers, there are better, more versatile options.

It’s not often I write about photography equipment I return but will about my recent purchase of the Canon Wireless Remote Control RC1. I planned to use it with my Canon XSi/450D.

Canon RC1 Wireless Remote ControlUpon opening the package, there was no separate packet containing a battery, and no plastic that you can pull so a battery comes in contact with the contacts of the remote, like is the case for many electronic gizmos. So I tried in vain to open the battery compartment. The only outcome of my efforts was to seriously break about five fingernails.

I returned the remote the next day for a full refund.

Limitations of the RC1 wireless remote

Before giving a second remote a try, I decided to read user feedback to see if anyone experienced the same problem. But after learning the many drawbacks of this popular remote control that’s compatible with most Digital Rebel DSLRs, I decided not to order another.

Remote Shutter by Alan Levine

Remote Shutter by Alan Levine

To use the remote, you must first select the Timer/Remote control setting from the Drive mode menu. Unless you stand almost directly in from the camera and the RC1 is aimed at the right spot on the camera, the infrared signal doesn’t do a thing. The IR signal can also be blocked by certain lenses and lens hoods.

The remote doesn’t focus the camera; you have to do that manually. Plus, if the remote button isn’t pressed within ten seconds, the camera goes into sleep mode and you’ll have to manually press the shutter button down halfway again to lock focus; not very convenient if you want to get into a group photo.

The range of the RC1 remote is only 16 feet. Many report that it can’t be activated if you stand behind or to the side of the camera.

With these drawbacks, I simply prefer to set the self-timer when needed.

Other options

If you can live with the limitations, this inexpensive remote may work for you. If not, use the self-timer or invest in a wireless radio controlled shutter release such as ALZO Wireless Radio Shutter Release, which has a range of 300 feet. These types of remotes are more expensive but have a better range and some can even penetrate though walls. They may also support partial shutter/autofocus & autoexposure, Continuous Drive and BULB modes.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

7 Comments

  • I’ve use the RC-1 for several years without problems. Never broken a finger nail trying to access the batteries – you shouldn’t be using your finger nails! Just press down ever so slightly and slide the cover in the direction of the arrow. Yes it’s a simple device with limitations, but it was inexpensive and does what I need, so why pay more for something that “transmits through walls”. Good little device!

  • Have been using the RC-1 since my film camera days (over 10 years ago). Never have any problem. Just upgraded to Canon 7D, it can be used again. No problem opening the battery compartment, it is so easy. Being a user of the RC-1 for 10-year, I simply do not understand how the author get into this “nail-breaking” experience.

    Yes, it may be possible to have blockage by the lens or lens hood. But this is an IR (not radio) remote. You will have the SAME blockage with your TV remote as well. It is simply the limitation of the IR (direct line of sight) technology & the Canon Camera design (may be positioning of the sensor) not the fault of the RC-1.

    On the 10-second shut-off problem, it is your camera setting which can be override. Again not the fault of the RC-1.

    All said, RC-1 is a great little remote. Cheap & very useful.

  • Yeah SkipG is right. You use your thumb to push down just a little and in the direction of the arrow and it opens. There is no way in heck you need a coin or fingernail for this process. I own one and have never had this problem. I know of a few people who also own it and that has never been a issue.

  • SkipG, no, it was not user error. It won’t be the first piece of equipment to have a manufacturer defect. The information in this user review is to share the pros and cons of the remote. It also suggests an alternative for those who, like me, don’t care at all for the limitations of the Canon RC1.

  • I’m going to call “user error” on the battery compartment complaint. It’s not the type that you stick a coin or a fingernail into a slot and pry it open. You simply put your finger on the arrow, push in (ever so slightly- this is NOT complicated) and slide it open in the direction of the arrow. Ta-DA! Are you sure this page isn’t just an advertisement for the Alzo radio remote that you linked to?