Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Remote Review

This is a review of the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote for Nikon. For some reason, Nikon’s small and inexpensive ML-L3 wireless remote doesn’t work with any of it’s professional DSLR bodies. If you own one of these incompatible bodies and want to use a remote shutter release, your choices can get expensive pretty quickly. I wanted a remote shutter that was wireless and did more than just trip the shutter when I pressed the button. I was surprised to find that Nikon doesn’t offer such a product. Fortunately, Vello does.

Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote for Nikon

1) Product Specifications

The Vello Wireless ShutterBoss can be used as a remote release, a delayed shutter release, programmed as an intervalometer or to activate the bulb function on certain Nikon cameras. For those who may not be familiar with an intervalometer, it can be programmed to take a series of photos, with a preset length of exposure as well as time between exposures.

- 99 Possible Radio Channels
- Up to 250′ (80 m) Range
- Trigger Camera Wirelessly or Wired
- Can Work W/Dozens of Camera Models
- Dual-Function (Focus & Trigger) Release
- Delay Release Function
- Multi-Exposure Mode
- Interval Control
- Long Exposure Control
- LED Indicators–Pre-Focus & Exposure

Frequency – 99 selectable channels over FSK 2.4 GHz
Range – 250′ (80 m)
Exposure Range – 0s to 99hr 59min 59s in one-second increments
Interval – 1s to 99hr 59min 59s in one-second increments
Number of Shots – 1 to 99
Operating Temperature – -4° to 122°F (-20° to 50°C)
Dimensions – Transmitter: 5.9 x 2 x 1″ (14.9 x 5 x 2.4 cm), Receiver: 2.5 x 1.5 x 1.2″ (6.3 x 3.8 x 3.1 cm)

2) Handling

I found the ShutterBoss to be easily programmable. It has all the features that the Nikon MC-36 has, except that the remote from Vello does it wirelessly. The range is more than adequate and it worked from anywhere in my home just like the previously reviewed Vello FreeWave Wireless remote. It can be set to 99 different channels on the 2.4 GHz frequency to avoid interference or to control multiple cameras at the same time with one remote. The channels are easily selected on the transmitter and receiver electronically, not with pins/dip switches. This wireless capability allows the photographer to set up a scene and take photos without disturbing the subject, making it useful for wildlife or time lapse photography.

The contours of the transmitter are rounded and comfortable in the hand but it is the largest of the transmitters and will take up more room in your bag than the others. One negative is that although the receiver has an on/off switch, the transmitter does not and so it goes into a standby mode and will wake upon any button being depressed. According to the manufacturer, the batteries should last 3-4 years in standby mode. I cannot verify how long the batteries actually last in real world usage, however, if the batteries should die in the field, the transmitter will plug into the cable and work like a wired remote. The transmitter is powered by 2 AAA batteries and the receiver is powered by one CR2 3 volt battery.

3) Packaging and Field Use

Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote for Nikon

In the box, you’ll find the remote (transmitter), the receiver, the cable for your specified camera, a detailed set of instructions and batteries for both the transmitter and receiver. The box is only good for shipping… chances are you won’t be able to store the transmitter/receiver in it. That’s OK, though, as they’re small enough you’ll probably be able to fit them in your camera bag if you use them often enough.

Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote for Nikon

If you’ve got a D800 like I do, your Nikon remote options are limited. If you want a wireless remote, you can get the ML-3. If you want a simple wired trigger release, you can get the MC-30/A. If you want a multi-function remote, you can get the MC-36/A. Surprisingly, Nikon does not offer a wireless multi-function remote!

This makes the Vello Wireless Shutterboss seem like a pretty amazing piece of gear. Not only is it something that Nikon doesn’t offer, it’s also relatively inexpensive! Naturally, I had to wonder how well it works. Fortunately, I was pleasantly surprised.

A remote control that does so much with so few buttons has the potential to be very complicated. I was pleased to find that I was able to figure out the Remote Shutterboss almost immediately without reading the instructions. It uses basic and universal symbols to let you know what mode you’re shooting in. If you do get confused, the instructions are quite helpful.

You’re not just limited to using the transmitter wirelessly. You can also shoot wired with it. Just unplug the wire from the receiver and plug it into the transmitter! Both the transmitter and receiver have a backlight, making them usable in any lighting conditions.

Actually using the transmitter is similar to using a camera. To focus, you hold the button half way down and to take the shot you press it completely. Depending on what mode you’re shooting in, that button press might only take one shot or it might start a series of photos. If you’re using an on-camera flash and need to use your hot shoe, the receiver doesn’t have to be mounted there. It can just as easily be mounted anywhere on your tripod or just left to dangle (which is not recommended)… it still works just fine.

Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote for Nikon
Vello Wireless Shutterboss Remote for Nikon

Another feature that I found to be very appealing is the fact that the remote isn’t proprietary to any particular camera. If you want to use it with a different camera model or even brand, all you have to do is buy a new cable! The remote will function the same no matter what.

So, how’s it work? It works great! I didn’t have any missed shots while I was using it. In fact, just to test it’s reliability and range, I had my wife sit next to the camera, called her so we could communicate with each other and headed down the hall of the building my studio is in. I was able to get to the end of the all-concrete hall (about 100 feet) and the remote was firing the camera every single time. I decided to head upstairs so that it had to go through the floor as well. Not only did it work every time from upstairs, it also worked while I was in the stairwell! I would say that this remote is definitely reliable.

4) Build Quality

Build quality is on par with the other remotes previously reviewed in this series. The only thing I would mention is the facing on the transmitter and receiver seemed to be a cheap laminate, the kind that looks like it might peel off with time and usage.

5) Value

The functions give you more control than the previously reviewed Nikon ML-3 or Vello FreeWave remotes at a lower price than the either of the Nikon remotes, the ML-3 or the MC-36.

If you need the features of the Wireless ShutterBoss but don’t feel you need the wireless capability, then you could consider the regular (non-wireless) Vello ShutterBoss for less money.

6) Summary

Before I ever used the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss, I had a few minimum expectations that it had to meet if I was going to recommend it to anyone. If it wasn’t reliable, easy to use, relatively small and inexpensive, it probably wouldn’t be something that I’d use, let alone recommend to anyone else. Not only does it meet all of those expectations, it delivers so much more than I expected it to! It can shoot in a variety of modes, be used to shoot sequences of images, shoot wirelessly or wired and even be used with almost any camera! It’s intuitive and simple design makes it a great piece of gear that I would bet almost anyone will find useful.

7) Pricing and Where to Buy

The Vello Wireless ShutterBoss is priced at $99.50 and is available at B&H Photo Video.

Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Remote Review4.3333333333333John Bosley2013-03-08 13:20:11This is a review of the Vello Wireless ShutterBoss Timer Remote for Nikon. For some reason, Nikon’s small and inexpensive ML-L3 wireless remote does…
Build Quality
Handling
Value
Features
Size and Weight
Packaging and Manual
Photography Life Overall Rating

Comments

  1. 1
    ) Peng

    Great review John. I do not own D800 but was wondering if this remote also works on D700? If not, what would be your choice for wireless remote on D700? Thanks!

    • Thanks, Peng! This remote will definitely work on a D700 (or any Nikon with a 10-pin connector).

  2. 3
    ) Ahmad

    Really good review. Two questions though. If we switch to manual focus on the camera, then the remote focus is also disabled? Also, even when using auto-focus, can we press the button fully, and the remote just fires the shutter instead of focusing and then shooting?

    • Thanks, Ahmad. The button on the remote will work exactly the same as the button on your camera. This means that if you have your camera set to manually focus, pressing the button on the remote will only take a photo and will not change the focus of your camera. When your camera is set to auto-focus, if it is not pre-focused or has to hunt for focus, pressing the button on the remote will be just like pressing the shutter button… it will focus the shot before triggering the shutter.

      • 9
        ) Ahmad

        Thanks for replying. One last question. Have you used the RFN-4s control? And if so, which once would you recommend out if the two?

        • My pleasure! I have never used the RFN-4s, so I can’t comment on it. It looks like it’s a simple remote shutter release without many other options. I do like that it is truly a wireless configuration, though. Personally, without having ever used the RFN-4s, I still like having all of the options that the ShutterBoss offers.

          • 11
            ) Ahmad

            Yes that is the one thing i noticed in the reviews. no mention of any functions other than firing the shutter. BTW, the vello is $20 off at bhphoto right now, until the 17th of march i think, so now is a good time for people to get it. Thanks again for the reply.

        • 13
          ) peter2

          I had another Vello remote (http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/753842-REG/Vello_RWII_N_FreeWave_Plus_Wireless_Remote.html), which worked fine until one day I was out shooting and it would freeze my playback and info screen of my D800. I thought something wrong with the camera, but when I unplugged the Vello, it was fine. Replugged the Vello in it would cause the problem.
          Since then I have bought the RFN-4s and have been quite please with its simple functionality and durability.
          The only thing I have to say is that the receiver device plugs directly into the 10-pin socket, it will partially block the access to the flash socket above it and you can’t plug the PC flash synch cord in. I can’t think of too many situations when I need both, but if you do need both of the remote and flash socket, the RFN-4s may pose a problem.

  3. Nice to hear that others like the ShutterBoss. I got one in April 2012 for use with a D7000 DSLR and have used it mostly for astrophotography. I have also used it at a reunion to get a wide shot of everyone including myself. The camera was about 100′ away. Worked great. I posted a review of the ShutterBoss at:

    http://www.weasner.com/etx/reviews/2012/Vello_ShutterBoss/index.html

    • Thanks for chiming in, Mike! Glad to hear that your experience has been positive as well.

  4. Nice review John :)
    i had to smile that it is a wireless system and the wire is so prominent that looks like a land line phone wire :)
    definitely very handy gadget to have if one needs it.
    I’m using the old MC36 from F100 on D800 ,well actually used it twice only :)

    is the Nikon ML-3 remote and this one has a huge price difference or it has more features ?
    99 shots looks kinda less but range is good for many different kinds of PG :)

    Thanks for sharing nice info :)
    cheers!

    • Thanks, Adnan! It does have a pretty big wire for a “wireless” system, doesn’t it. :)

      The ML-3 is a very different remote. For one, it’s infrared, so you have to have line of sight for it to operate and the range is much less (Nikon claims 26 feet instead of 200 feet). It also mostly just functions as a simple remote and does not have any advanced shooting modes (timers, series of photos, etc…). The one advantage it does have is that it can be set to trigger the shutter when something moves between the transmitter and receiver (great for wildlife photography), but that’s about it.

  5. 12
    ) Ahmad

    One more question. What is the maximum number of shots the remote can take? If I was making a time lapse for example?

    • The maximum number of shots you can get with this remote is 99.

    • 25
      ) Wayne

      You can set the maximum # of shots to “- -” which means unlimited. It will shoot until your card is full.

  6. 14
    ) Mike

    Thanks for the review. Any idea how it might compare to this one?

    http://www.amazon.com/RFN-4s-Wireless-Shutter-Release-connection/dp/B005PCDSBQ

    Mike

    • Hey Mike… check out comment 10 up above. Someone asked the same thing. :)

      • 16
        ) Mike

        Sorry, missed that.

  7. I got the Shutter Boss for my bday from my wife. Neither set of batteries , for the transmitter or receiver, worked :(. I bought new batteries and all seems good. Just kind of a bummer to spend $ right off the bat on an already-pricey product. Purchased at B&H.

    • 19
      ) David

      I second Mike’s comment, I just got the unit from B&H and it didn’t work, I was going to send it back but now maybe I’ll try a different battery for it. Very disappointed with how “cheap” it feels. And maybe if they used name brand batteries maybe they wouldn’t have this problem, I’d be willing to pay an additional 25-50 bucks for the item if it used better batteries, and better build quality. Metal hot shoe, better plastic etc.

      Dave

    • 20
      ) Gerald Levy

      I too had to immediately throw away the supplied batteries and replace with my own. Blame Vello, not B&H. Separately, I think the build is borderline cheap: the feel is that the switches might give out after a while. Nowhere near the build quality of the Nikon remote for the D300 I had, which of course was wired only. Still, a good product.

  8. 21
    ) Brandon

    I don’t recommend the Vello products. It is definitely not pro-level quality. I have a Vello Shutterboss and last week I dropped the remote from 3 feet high and now the shutter release stopped working. I e.mailed the company to see if they would offer a discount on a replacement and they wanted $50 dollars! It will just break again if I drop it. I’d highly recommend trying another option, and look for a remote with a wrist strap.

  9. 22
    ) Judy D

    I have been using the Vello wireless shutter boss for some while, successfully. I’m having troubles with the shutter release now while on vacation. When it’s attached to my camera and turned on it has been triggering the shutter by itself without even being touched. It triggers the shutter randomly and frequently sometimes two or three shots in a row. I did put a new battery in about a month ago. Any ideas what’s wrong?

    • That’s really strange. Unfortunately, I don’t have any good suggestions for you. It’s highly doubtful, but I wonder if there’s some sort of radio interference in the area you’re in? Maybe it’s just a coincidence it started happening while you’re on vacation. Maybe try changing radio channels and see if that helps.

  10. 24
    ) Judy D

    Thanks for your comment, John. That’s a good idea, which I tried, but I still have the problem. I called Vello yesterday. I reset the batteries and also tried plugging the transmitter directly into the camera, but I still had the problem. They said that indicates a bad cable, so I’m ordering a new one.

  11. 26
    ) Wayne

    I got the Wireless Shutterboss last week. I used it once and it worked fine. Now, I can’t get it to fire the camera at all. I’ve tried single shot, continuous, BULB. Both transmitter and receiver are on the same channel. Tried channels 1 and 2. I have an extra cord to connect to the receiver to the camera–still doesn’t work. I pulled the manual out and connected everything to the camera step by step and by the book. Still nothing. Any suggestions? I have not replaced the batteries yet. I’ve seen several posts where the unit came with dead batteries. There’s nothing I hate worse than spending $100 for something that doesn’t work right out of the box!

    • That’s bad to hear, Wayne. I’d definitely try replacing the batteries (shouldn’t be necessary with a new product, but apparently it’s been an issue). If that doesn’t help, contact Vello! Maybe you just got a defective unit? Good luck!

      • 28
        ) wayne

        I replaced the batteries just now. Still nothing. I sent an email to B&H Photo. They suggested replacing the batteries. They said they’ve never heard of any problems with this unit. I guess they have never seen this site!

  12. 29
    ) john jenkins

    It only allows 99 shots so timelapse is pretty limited.

  13. 30
    ) Dee

    This product appears to have latent defects with respect to the battery. I purchased one, loved how it operated. Used it on a maximum of 5 occasions. On the 6th occasion, the battery was dead. I purchased a new one, and it OVERHEATED WITHIN SECONDS. Since I was at Radio Shack, they gave me another battery. It also OVERHEATED WITHIN SECONDS. The clerk warned me to not put or leave a battery in it for fear it would explode.

    I am attempting to return now.

Leave a Comment

*