If you are considering a new remote, you will find that there are currently numerous models available on the market. Thus, I have decided to share my thoughts and do a few brief reviews of some of them. The Nikon ML-3 Modulite Remote Control is kindly provided by B&H Photo – the world’s largest photo and video equipment reseller where we buy most of our equipment.
The ML-3 is a basic remote and has the following limited operating modes: Single activation, Continuous activation, Delay or Auto Trigger mode. The Delay mode is a 3 second delay before the shutter activates and there is no way to change the length of delay from the remote. You may use the Bulb feature of your camera by setting the remote to “C” for continuous and the shutter will remain open as long as you are pressing the transmission button. In Auto Trigger mode, the shutter is activated when something enters between the transmitter and receiver, breaking the plane of the infrared beam. In this mode, the transmitter button does not need to be pressed and may be useful for wildlife or surveillance. In an effort to prevent inadvertent crossover with other devices, there are 2 channels to select from. Both can easily be selected on the transmitter and receiver. As this is a basic remote, there is no intervalometer.
The ML-3 is an infrared remote and does not use radio frequency transmission so you have to be in the “line of sight” and according to the manual, the transmitter must be on a line within 10º of either side of center of the receiver and within 8m/26ft for it to work. In real life use, I found its range to be close to the reported 10 degrees either side, it might have been slightly more but not by much. The transmitter really has to be in line with the receiver or it will not function. Nikon has made the receiver swivel so that you can be off to the side and still have the remote function by maintaining a direct line. The ability to have the receiver swivel also may slightly decrease chances of breakage should the receiver be inadvertently bumped. And just like any other infrared transmitter, this one is also prone to problems when using the remote in daylight conditions, where the sun rays can severely interfere with the infrared signal.
3) Build Quality
The remote is made of plastic and like most Nikon equipment and accessories, fit and finish of the ML-3 is nice. The transmitter fits well in the palm of your hand and there is a wrist strap to decrease the chance of accidently dropping the transmitter. The transmitter uses 2 AAA batteries (not included) and the receiver is powered from the camera body. The control buttons feel solid and responsive to the touch.
4) Packaging and Manual
Included is a small, odd shaped case to hold the transmitter, receiver and cable. The manual is adequate, nothing very exciting since the remote has limited basic function.
Based on the functions, the limited operational range and the $200 price tag, this isn’t really a good value. There are third party remotes that offer as much or more functionality at a fraction of the price. The one feature that the ML-3 has that may appeal to some is the Auto Trigger feature.
The infrared Nikon ML-3 Compact Modulite Remote works, but the limited feature set, limited working range and the fact that you need to have a direct line of sight for it to operate, makes it less appealing than many third party wireless remotes. After factoring in the cost, I would suggest considering other alternatives such as the Vello FreeWave Plus.