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A static remotely controlled camera can be used to obtain relatively close-up views of wildlife when the location can be accurately determined - such as in the case of a bird's nest. The photographer can then retire a suitable distance to convenient cover and observe activity through a pair of binoculars. However, care must be taken to avoid disturbance to the target species. Cover the camera and tripod with some sort of camouflage to conceal shiny surface unnecessary reflections. The tripod-mounted camera should also be introduced with sensitivity, rather like a small hide. A dummy tripod might, for instance, be moved in gradually over a number of days and then replaced with the real camera when a photography session is planned.

A camera in a fixed location can be controlled remotely using one of four basic systems. Remote controls in the simplest category rely upon a wired connection between the photographer and the camera. Standard cable releases are normally about one metre in length and offer an extension of a camera's shutter release facilities - ie shutter release and half press for focus. They are relatively cheap and intended primarily to avoid camera movement at the moment of releasing the shutter. However, releases of greater lengths of up to five or ten meres are available from some manufacturers, and these have some limited uses in nature photography.

A second category of remote releases use an infrared beam to trigger a camera. They are relatively cheap and lightweight, and offer the same remote facilities as wired releases. Some cameras have a built-in receiver on the front of the body to enable photographers to include themselves in group shots etc, but the limited range of operation and the need to be in front of the camera restrict usefulness for nature work. All infrared remote releases rely upon a direct line of sight between photographer and camera, so even the add-on units with greater signal strength which can be used from behind a camera are restricted in this manner. Typical infrared units feature low power consumption and have a limited angle of view, meaning that the transmitter must be directed reasonably accurately at the receiver. Maximum ranges vary from product to product and with environmental conditions but, even with the best units, operation is unlikely to be 100% reliable at distances greater than about 30 - 50 metres.

Radio remote releases are undoubtedly the best option for wildlife photography. Some manufacturers offer sophisticated dedicated units which extend many camera functions to a remote photographer - in some cases even the image is available. Radio units tend to be more expensive than other types but feature greater range and have the advantage of not requiring a clear line of sight. A camera concealed in a hide can therefore be triggered by a remote photographer. Power consumption, particularly in the case of the receivers, tends to be higher than with other types. Typical radio remote release systems feature channel selection to avoid interference when other units are being used nearby. The more sophisticated and expensive units tend to function in a more reliable manner.

The fourth category of remote release incorporates automatic release functions variously based upon a motion detector or the breaking of an infrared beam. These units can be set to fire a camera automatically when an animal or bird triggers the release system by its presence in a particular location. Some systems return images to a remote photographer and incorporate addition remote trigger functions.


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