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Gear Reviews

Aputure Pro Coworker II – Wireless Timelapse Trigger Field Review

By Matthew Saville on July 13th 2013

The Aputure Pro Coworker II is my new favorite accessory!  As an adventure photographer, I’m always looking for the best tools out there for triggering my camera, shooting bulb exposures, and of course, creating timelapse footage.  This pocket-sized, cable-free device does everything!

Aputure Pro Coworker II

The Pro Coworker II is a pretty tricked-out tool, unlike the previous Pro-Coworker unit (and most other wireless triggers) that simply act as a cable release, a shutter clicker.  With the right cable connectors, you might have even experimented with remote shutter release using oldschool Pocket Wizards!  The Pro Coworker II takes wireless triggering to a whole new level, however, with full timelapse programming.

Aputure Pro Coworker II D700Simply attach the remote control trigger to your camera’s dedicated remote port, turn it on, and by default your main control unit will be connected. (Although there are different radio channels you can use, if you need them)

The radio signal is 2.4 GHZ, and strong enough to go 100 meters.

The Pro Coworker II comes in various different models that are compatible with most Canon and Nikon DSLRs, as well as many different Pentax, Sony, and other cameras.

Who Should Buy It?

The Pro Coworker II is a little more advanced than your average digital cable release, however as far as timelapse triggers go it is refreshingly simple to program and operate! Therefore, I can highly recommend it to anyone who is even remotely interested in timelapse recording, and not just the advances geeky types!

Also, even if you’re already heavily into timelapse photography and have one or two devices laying around, you probably know just how useful it is to have an extra for backup, not to mention how annoying cables can be.  In fact in the production of our HDR Photography DVD, and in general use at Lin & Jirsa Photography, we have probably destroyed over a half-dozen different cable releases in the past few years.  Even the expensive name-brand ones!

Considering all this, it is a real gift to have a wireless timelapse controller.  Sure, you have to carry a few extra batteries around, however thankfully the Pro Coworker II uses just two AAA batteries and one CR2 3V battery, all three of which you can buy anywhere, and easily fit into an old film canister.  (I love using old film canisters to transport small batteries and things, it’s a great way to keep them organized and safe from moisture etc.)

The interface seems a little complex at first, however even before reading the manual I was able to figure out how to operate it on my own: simple up-down / left-right navigation buttons allow you to set individual numbers for timer delay or “countdown”, interval time, total timelapse sequence length, and manual shutter exposure time.  (for use with bulb mode.)

For example, I often try to create timelapse sequences in 10-20 second clips worth of final video footage, so at 30 FPS playback I will want to capture 300-600 original images.  I would simply program the device to capture this many images, and capture them just a few seconds apart.  3-10 seconds apart is good for daylight motion usually, and 20-60 seconds is good for night time motion if you want to see stars etc. move through the sky.  This results in ~60 mins worth of images playing back in just ~10 seconds.

Below is a sample of timelapse clips created using the Pro Coworker II.

You can, of course, also use the unit to capture extended bulb exposures for star trail images, and depending on your camera and the ambient temperature you may be able to capture good quality images that are quite a few minutes long.  However since most DSLRs these days will generate serious color noise or “christmas light” noise at exposures longer than ~1 minute in normal temperatures, the better thing to do is to simply create a timelapse of ~1-minute exposures, and then layer them all in Photoshop like so:

sean-goebel-mauna-kea-star-trailPhoto by Sean Goebel, Copyright 2013
Click HERE to view more timelapse projects by Sean

What About Nikon’s Built-in Intervalometer?

Since a lot of people have mentioned this awesome fact about most advanced Nikon DSLRs, I will add this:  Why would you want an external timelapse device if your Nikon DSLR already has an intervalometer?  The remote monitoring and programming is definitely very nice and in my opinion is worth the price alone, however even more importantly is the ability to access shutter speeds longer than 30 sec.  With the built-in intervalometer on Nikon DSLRs, you are limited to 30 sec. for night time photography which for anyone who has ever shot the milky way or something similar in a pitch-black environment, you know just how limiting that can be.  Unless you have a 24mm f/1.4 on a D3s or D4 and you feel comfortable shooting at ISO 12800 for all your timelapses, you REALLY need access to 1-2 minute shutter speeds to be fully “unleashed”.

Also, simple bulb exposures are effortless and easy to program with such a device.  If you aren’t shooting a timelapse but you do need to shoot a 1+ minute exposure, you can just program your exact shutter speed into the controller, and just start/stop the exposure remotely with zero camera shake.

So each of these benefits alone are worth the cost of the device, and combined they make it an absolute must-have even for a Nikon shooter, in my opinion.

Pros

  •  No cables.  As I mentioned, cables are the number one point of failure in our timelapse control devices, so in theory this device should out-last any other timelapse device by a long, long time.
  • Wireless monitoring.  It’s not just the ability to control the timelapse remotely, but to monitor it.  Once you program your timelapse and check to make sure that the camera fires the first few frames correctly, you can sneak back to your tent, or vehicle, and get out of the elements.  As long as you’re within 100 meters of your timelapse, the device will continue to trigger, and you can watch the timer to see how far along your timelapse has progressed.
  • The LED lighted display and function lock buttons are very nice touches!
  • I tested the 100 meter rating by setting up a timelapse, walking back to a vehicle ~100 meters away, (with the controller) warming up for a minute, then leaving the controller at the vehicle and walking back to the camera.  It was indeed still clicking away happily!  This was of course out in the middle of nowhere, so interference levels were probably quite low; however in suburban conditions and even through a few walls, the unit seemed to fire 100% consistently no matter what I threw at it.
  • This isn’t a pro or con yet, so I’m listing it twice-  I haven’t yet been able to test the device in sub-zero temperatures, which of course is something that many landscape / timelapse photographers may be interested in.  We will report back if we discover anything interesting in the future.

Cons

  •  The only major drawback is the bulkiness and non-flexibility of the camera-mounted portion of the device, the “antenna” so to speak.  On Nikon at least it can be secured and is relatively un-obtrusive, because the Nikon 10-pin port is forward-facing and has a threaded locking screw.  (See the photo above)   …Unfortunately Canon’s remote connector port is not so fortunate- it sticks straight out of the side of the camera, is rather small, and has no locking mechanism.  This is more of a drawback of Canon’s triggering port, but if I were designing the Canon version of this device I would have looked for a way to minimize the profile of the device.  Just be careful while using the wireless trigger on a Canon DSLR.
  • I wish there was a way to know when you are out of range, like some sort of beep or illuminated warning on the main controller device.  I assume this is probably nearly impossible to do, however, at least not without increasing the device’s size and/or gobbling up battery life with additional signal transmissions.  (Admittedly, I tried pretty hard to get the Pro Coworker out of range but couldn’t.)
  • This isn’t a pro or con yet, so I’m listing it twice-  I haven’t yet been able to test the device in sub-zero temperatures, which of course is something that many landscape / timelapse photographers may be interested in. We will report back if we discover anything interesting in the future.

Verdict

At only $60 MSRP, and usually just $38-$50 retail, everyone who is into timelapse photography should own at least one of these puppies. Even if you already own a wired remote, most photographers who are into timelapse recording will understand just how important it is to have multiple release devices on a project, let alone the wireless control and monitoring!

5-of-5-stars

Purchase the Aputure Pro Coworker II at Amazon.com:

For most Canon DSLRs – $50
For most beginner Nikon DSLRs – $38
For most Pro Nikon DSLRs – $50

(Be mindful that the original Pro Coworker, a simple wireless shutter release, is also still available if you start clicking around.)

Take care, and be safe out there!
=Mathew Saville=

Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

Follow his personal wilderness adventures: Astro-Landscapes.com

See some of his latest wedding photography featured on: LinandJirsa.com

Q&A Discussions

Please or register to post a comment.

  1. Marcel

    Hi,
    I’m trying to figure out how to use the Aputure Pro Coworker II’s intervalometer to shoot exposures of less than one second. Any suggestions? Thanks!
    Marcel

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  2. Tony

    Nikon d3/700 and later dslr’s all have an intervalometer built inside.

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    • M. Saville

      Tony, since a lot of people have mentioned this fact, I will add this: Why would you want an external timelapse device if you’re a Nikon DSLR user? The remote monitoring and programming is definitely very nice and in my opinion is worth the price alone, however even more importantly is the ability to access to shutter speeds longer than 30 sec. With the built-in intervalometer on Nikon DSLRs, you are limited to 30 sec. for night time photography, which for anyone who has ever shot the milky way or something similar in a pitch-black environment, you know just how limiting that can be. Unless you have a D3s or D4 and feel comfortable shooting at ISO 12800 for all your timelapses, you REALLY need access to 1-2 minute shutter speeds to be fully “unleashed”.

      Also, simple bulb exposures are effortless and easy to program with such a device. If you aren’t shooting a timelapse but you do need to shoot a 1+ minute exposure, you can just program your exact shutter speed into the controller, and just start/stop the exposure remotely with zero camera shake.

      So both of these benefits alone are worth the cost of the device, and combined they make it an absolute must-have even for a Nikon shooter, in my opinion.

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