Thursday, 7 August 2008

Review of the Nova version of the Canon RS-80N3 remote release

One of the reasons for buying into a complete camera system, such as Canon’s EOS series or Nikon, is the range of accessories available, which is also one of the pains when you realise how much the manufacturers charge for even the simplest accessory, such as an electronic remote release. This is a review of a cheaper generic version of Canon’s RS-80N3 remote release.

Canon’s RS-80N3 remote release fits any Canon EOS camera fitted with Canon’s proprietary three pin N3 remote release. If you use a tripod at all you are going to want one or more of these things and in the UK they typically cost around £45 each.

If you look on eBay, however, you will see a huge variety of generic versions available, nearly all from China. These range in price and quality, but even the better looking clones cost about a third of what Canon charge, so you may well be tempted to try one. You will also see that it is possible to buy purportedly genuine Canon versions from Hong Kong for around £30, but you are then a bit at the mercy of customs, who, in the UK, are pretty hot on charging duty, tax and fees that might hike the cost above the genuine version…

I originally bought a genuine Canon RS-80N3 remote release so as not to risk any damage to my camera, but I found I needed more than one and in any case they are not very robust and could easily get damaged or lost in the field, so I wanted a spare or two around just in case. I thus decided to try a Chinese clone.

I picked one of the higher priced versions available on eBay that looked well made and had the same metal sheath/locking cap as Canon’s version – many have a plain plastic plug with no metal locking cap. Two years ago (June 2006) I paid an all-in price, including delivery, of £15.40 to a Chinese based eBay seller – Nova. It arrived in the UK in about a week.

Was this a good idea?

The photo below shows the genuine Canon and Nova versions side-by-side.

In the hand the Nova version feels solid and well made, although not quite a good as the Canon. The N3 plug also looks much the same as the Canon. The Nova version’s switch (the bit that you hold in your hand) is significantly bigger, but despite having small hands I find it more comfortable to use than the Canon, which I find a bit small. The Nova does not stint on cable length either, being 6cm longer than the Canon’s 90cm. Both have a holder on their reverse sides for cameras that have removable N3 socket covers so that you don’t lose them – since none of my cameras have such a thing (they all have rubber flaps to protect the various plug holes on the camera bodies) I can’t vouch for them.

The whole push-in connector on the Nova is slightly longer than Canon’s (24.6mm vs 23.2mm) and the metal locking cap is a bit sloppier on the Nova. The actual N3 plug is the same on both. Both fit the cameras OK and lock into place - although the Canon version makes a more reassuring “click” when it locks into place, both of them lock and unlock the plug fine.

The first test of a remote release is the most important – does it work without damaging the camera?
Yes – I have used it on a series of DSLRs – 10D, 30D & 40D – without a problem.

Secondly – does it work reliably?
Again – Yes. Over the two years I have had it I have used it interchangeably with the Canon version, probably using the Nova three times the amount of the Canon, and noticed no difference – it has always worked when I asked it to. There is no damage to either and only normal signs of wear and tear (I am pretty careful of my equipment), although the cable on the Nova has become a bit twisted, whereas the Canon has not.

Both the remote releases provide the half-pressed release mode to set the auto-focus and exposure functions going on the camera and both have a sliding lock for the fully pressed switch position to allow long exposure times or continuous shooting. The half-pressed position is slightly more depressed on the Canon making it a bit easier to use, but I have had no problem using either – in fact I had to check this out specifically before writing about as I was not sure if there was a difference, so it has been a non-issue for me in use.

Essentially the Nova switch is functionally the same as the Canon.

I bought my remote release from and this is printed on the cable, but Nova seems to have disappeared. Looking though eBay, however, I see sellers selling what looks to be exactly the same product, although the price seems to have crept up…

So was it a good buy?

Yes – at 1/3rd the price of the Canon original, with good but not quite as good build quality as the Canon, the Nova was good value. It has worked reliably for 2 years and continues to do so – what more could you ask?

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