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In The Last Day

Review: Nikon ML-3 Remote Control

Posted 2/17/10 by
Last Updated: 11/30/99
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 This article is part of the following Gear Guide(s): 
 Tripods and Support | Macro | DSLR | Panoramic 

The Nikon ML-L3 acts as a remote shutter release for the pro and prosumer lines of Nikon DSLR's (D1 through D3 Series, and D100 through D700 Series cameras). The unit consists of two parts:
  1. A receiver that screws into the 10-pin connector on the front of the camera, and has a hot-shoe plate so it can sit on top of the camera (we often find ourselves using a flash at the same time, so this unit is often left dangling instead).
  2. A hand held transmitter that takes two AAA batteries.
A small carrying pouch is also included.

Nikon ML-3

The receiver has 3 settings: Off, Channel 1 and Channel 2, allowing you to have two cameras set up at once on different channels and trigger them independently.

The hand held transmitter has 3 switches:

  1. On-Off Switch.
  2. Channel 1-Channel 2-Auto Trigger Switch: Channel 1 and Channel 2 match up with the switch on the back of the receiver. Auto Trigger allows you to aim the transmitter at the receiver, and the camera is fired automatically when the infra-red beam between the two is broken (ideal for setting up and capturing wild animal shots etc).
  3. Single-Continuous-Delay: Single fires a single shot every time the button is pressed. Continuous keeps firing the camera as long as the button on the transmitter is held down. Delay gives a 3 second delay (so if you are taking a self portrait, you have time to drop the remote after pressing the button).

For it to work well, the transmitter has to be pointed pretty much straight at the receiver – if you are too far to the side, it doesn't work. Nikon rates it as having a 26' (8m) range along the optical axis, or just less than 20' (6m) at a 10 degree angle to the optical axis. In the field, we've often found those numbers to be about right – it's reliable up to about 20' or so, providing the receiver is angled directly towards the transmitter.

We've been using ours for over 2 years now, and it is still going strong. Battery life is very good. We use eneloop NiMH AAA batteries, and charging between trips we've never had the batteries run out. Our only complaint is the 10-pin connector: after you have pushed the connecter into the socket, to secure it in place you have to screw a small collar into the socket. Given its small size and location, it is absolutely impossible with gloves or cold fingers, and difficult at the best of times. As such, we normally don't bother screwing the collar in, and so far the socket has stayed in place fine without it.

Nikon ML-3

Overall, this makes for a very powerful and flexible piece of kit. If you are just looking for a simple remote trigger, it is a lot of money, especially when you consider Nikon makes a simple remote trigger (the ML-L3) for its consumer line of DSLR's for less than a tenth of the price. However if you are going to use all the features, it's worth its $170 (at time of writing) price tag:

 This article is part of the following Gear Guide(s): 
 Tripods and Support | Macro | DSLR | Panoramic 

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