Review of the Promote Control remote for digital cameras, Part 1

Promote Control

While technological advances in digital photography have opened up many creative doors, the downside is often the increased need to carry more equipment; laptop, software, external power supplies, cables, etc. If you’re working in a studio, the extra equipment can get in the way but it’s manageable. Once you leave the confines of the studio and readily-available power, things get more problematic.

Promote Systems
, has built a multi-functional remote control for Canon and Nikon cameras that allows the photographer to ditch the laptop and head to the field (or reduce clutter in the studio) to create HDR exposure brackets, time lapse series, Bulb ramping, focus-stacked macros, HDR time lapse, HDR bulb ramping, and HDR focus stacking. The Promote Control also operates as a one-shot remote and has a built-in hyperfocal distance calculator.

The major advantages of the Promote Control are:

1. Multi-functional control in one small, very portable, device (it’s the same size as an iPhone but twice as thick).
2. It’s easy to set up and use. The menu system is straightforward and button operation is clean and precise.
3. Increased functionality for owners of Nikon and Canon cameras limited to 3-exposure auto exposure bracketing for HDR, no intervalometer remote (or on camera), or limited capability remote control.

I’ve used the Promote Control (PC) with my Canon 1D Mk IV and it works great. But, while the PC expands what I can do with my 1D MK IV, it would add significant functionality and abilities to owners of cameras like the Canon Rebel series, 30D, 40D, 50D, 5D MK III, Nikon D40, D50, D60, and other Canon & Nikon models with limited functionality when it comes to HDR bracketing and intervalometer capabilities. Camera bodies with Live View will have more capability using the Promote Control.

Here are some of the features of the Promote Control I’m currently testing and will report on in Part II of my review coming soon:

* Auto exposure bracketing from 2 to 45 exposures for HDR or other uses in 1/3EV – 9.0EV step range between exposures and programmable shutter speeds of 1day10hour to 1/4000+
* Time lapse sequences in exposure intervals from 00:00:01 to 99:99:99 and 1 to infinite number of frames
* Mirror lock-up prior to each exposure for all modes (with optional shutter cable)
* Focus stacking
* HDR focus stacking
* HDR time lapse
* Bulb ramping (for time lapse sequences over changing light conditions such as sunrise/sunset, with optional shutter cable)
* Bulb HDR

Other features are

* One Shot: operates like a regular remote shutter release for making single exposures, except you can change the camera settings (aperture, shutter speed, ISO) using the Promote Control (shutter speed control requires the optional shutter cable)
* Manual Shutter Hold: For single timed exposures in bulb mode using an external timer. There isn’t a built-in timer for this function like in the Canon TC-80N3 or Nikon MC-36 remotes. Operation is a simple click to open the shutter and a second click to close it. I would like to see a timer function added in a future firmware upgrade. As it is now, this would be the least useful feature for me on the Promote Control
* Hyperfocal distance calculator for full-size, 1.3X, 1.5X, 1.6X, and 2X (4/3) sensors plus 6×7, 6×6 and 645 film
* AC power jack for external power
* Capability to receive commands from external remote sensors (noise, light, motion, etc.) and compatible with any sensor capable of triggering a Canon Rebel
* Can use the Promote Control with motorized panoramic heads

What all is included with the Promote Control?

* the unit
* 2 AA batteries
* instruction manual (also available in PDF form online)
* semi-hard carry case
* neck strap
* USB cable for firmware updates
* USB remote cable for your camera model

Optional accessories are the camera-model-specific shutter release cable needed for some operations, a soft case for mounting on a tripod leg (with clear panel for button access), wireless remote sensor, and a remote control hub that allows you to control multiple Promote Controls for things like 3D HDR and 3D time lapse.

The Promote Control is a very useful device and is compact enough to ride in my camera bag or backpack.

** Carry case UPDATE ** I received the new case today and it works great. It’s the same size as the original carry case, but thicker to be able to hold the camera to Promote USB cable and an optional shutter cable. I wasn’t able to fit the Promote to computer USB firmware update cable into the case along with the other two cables, but as previously mentioned, you’re not likely to need to carry the firmware USB cable with you all the time. It will probably ride in your accessory cable bag or laptop bag, anyway.

Stay tuned for future reviews of the specific functions as I compile them. Just a teaser, here’s an example of a focus stack I did of one of my pocket watches:

pocket watch

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