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I wish to experiment with HDR night photography and timelapse video editing. Both require me to take multiple shots are regular intervals for prolonged durations, and I obviously do not wish to sit there with a manual remote clicking every shot.

I am currently using a Canon Powershot G12, and from what I understand, I need either to flash my device with CHDK (to get a builtin intervalometer), or get an external remote timer. I am leaning towards the second alternative, as it will be more flexible in the long run and CHDK seems to be difficult to setup on the G12.

I have seen universal timers on Amazon.com that are seemingly compatible with every camera on earth - or at least the ones I care about, namely the Canon G12, Canon 5D Mark III, Nikon D300 and D7000.

What are your experience with those devices? Is it realistic to expect fair performance and reliability from such universal adapters? Why would I even buy a timer that is not universal considering the price differences?

Are there any ways of doing timelapse photography on the G12 that I am missing? :)

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2 Answers 2

The reason not all remote shutter releases are universal, regardless of whether they do or do not have built-in timers, is that not all cameras have the same size/shape connecting plug to attach them to the camera.

The controller you linked to above gets around this by supplying a plethora of adapters to fit just about any camera currently on the consumer market. Almost every camera with a port for a wired remote only needs two commands from the wired remote: a half press and a full press. The rest of the timer's work regarding when the signal is sent is done in the remote itself. The shutter speed, aperture, ISO, focus mode, etc. is still set via the camera's menu just as if you were using the camera's built in shutter button (If the shutter speed is set to Bulb in-camera, then the length of the signal from the remote will determine how long the shutter stays open, just as how long you hold the shutter button down would if you were using the camera's built-in shutter button).

I've used a similar timer with a permanent Canon N3 connector several times over about three years and been very happy with it. The only external difference appears to be the shape of the end of the cable that hooks to the camera. Ignore the complaints in reviews on sites such as amazon.com about having to remove the batteries from such timers because you can't turn them off. They are like a digital watch: as long as the alarm isn't constantly beeping the batteries will last for years. In the case of the remote, be sure it is not running/counting down and actively trying to trigger the shutter periodically when you store it.

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I suspect the low-level protocols for Canon and Nikon would differ as well. Even if one managed to hook up a remote for one brand, it is unlikely it would be capable of sending the correct encoded commands for the other brand. –  jrista Jan 14 at 21:09
    
They all have three wires. One is a ground, the other two are simple electrical circuits to complete that carry one-bit of data: open or closed. One is for the half press, the other is for the full press. There are no further 'protocols'. There are no 'encoded' commands. It's like a light switch, either electricity is flowing or it is not. The current is supplied by the camera, the remote is only a passive switch with two positions (three if you count the unpressed position when both circuits are open). –  Michael Clark Jan 14 at 22:25
    
Your sure that's universal? Pretty awesome if it is...guess it just seems unusual for camera manufacturers to agree on standards, though. ;-) –  jrista Jan 14 at 22:27
    
Not only is it likely to work if the correct connections are made, but it has been demonstrated successfully by a variety of products for years. –  Michael Clark Jan 14 at 22:27
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Ha! Panasonic does use a single wire plus ground to signal both a half and full press by placing resistors of different values in the circuit depending on the switch position. Everything you ever wanted to know about remote cable release connections: doc-diy.net/photo/remote_pinout –  Michael Clark Jan 14 at 23:14

Have a look at http://www.pclix.com/ I use the IR trigger feature of PClix with an old Canon Powershot S1-IS to make time-lapse sequences for construction projects and am very happy with the results. PClix can also be hard-wired to cameras with an electronic shutter release.

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Interesting, except you pay 30+$ for every camera you want compatible... That seems way more expensive than the example I gave in the question that is 30$ for everything... –  anarcat Jan 21 at 15:41

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