July 13, 2013

Aputure AP-TR3C (TC-80N3 compatible) Timer Remote Controller for Canon

Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote Controller overview
Further to my posts about wired or wireless remote shutter release devices and AC to DC couplers, photographers engaged in astrophotography, time-laps photography and very long exposures are really interested in a remote shutter control device with intervalometer function.

The intervelometer function (taking shots at timed intervals) is currently not an in-camera function offered by the camera firmware but a feature unique to the Timer Remote Controllers, either Canon's own TC-80N3 or compatibles like the Aputure AP-TR3C and others.

Unless of course you are willing to take the "risk" of installing a third party add-on firmware like the Magic Lantern, which offers these functions among many more and for many Canon and Nikon cameras.

The Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote Controller in discussion here, is almost identical visually to Canon TC-80N3, sporting the same four functions: Self Timer, Intervalometer, Long Exposure and Number of Exposures, which we'll see analytically later on.

The Package & Contents

Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote Controller box
The Aputure AP-TR3C came in a black retail box with a drawing of another model. One box fits all minimizes costs.
Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote Controller inbox contents layout
However the controller was meticulously packed in a hard pre-cut foam enclosure and was accompanied by a very detailed and illustrated manual in fair English and Chinese.

The Remote

Manufacturer Specification
Type:Remote switch with built-in timer control functions & exposure count control.
Connector Type:N3 Quick-lock remote control socket.
Compatible cameras:All Canon EOS-1D series, All EOS 5D series, EOS 6D, EOS 7D, EOS 10D, EOS 20D, EOS 30D, EOS 40D, EOS 50D, EOS D60, EOS D30. 
Control Functions:The [MODE] button selects the mode and the Jog Dial sets the time or the number of exposures. Various modes can be combined.
Interval timer1 sec to 99 hours, 59 minutes, 59 sec. 
Long Exposure timer
Exposure Count1 to 99 to unlimited *
Timer Start/Stop:Activated by [START/STOP] button.
Hold Function:HOLD appears when the [☼] button is pressed for 3". This disables all other buttons and dial. The hold function is canceled by pressing the button for 3" again.
Release Button:Halfway & complete pressing provided. Release Lock provided. Can be used to release the shutter even during self timer or interval timer operations.
Display panelIcons for self-timer, interval timer, long exposure timer and exposure count setting. Time and exposure count and low battery warning
Display Illumination:Pressing the [☼] button illuminates the display for 6"
Cable length:80 cm (31.5")
Power source:One Lithium CR2032 (3V) button battery
Battery life:Approx 3 years. Exhausted battery indicated by blinking battery low icon on display
Dimensions:40 x 20 x 143 mm / 1.57 x 0.8 x 5.63 " (W x D x H)
Weight:85gr (3 oz) Including battery.

* Unlimited, is somehow used as an expression to indicate that there will be no limit set by the controller but actually there are limitations set by the capacity of the memory card in the camera or the capacity of the hard disk when the camera is tethered to a laptop or the capacity of the batteries.
When the exposure count is not set then the Timer Controller will activate the camera until any buttery drains out or any memory is full or the user stops the shooting process manually.

Aputure AP-TR3C top view
The Timer Remote Controller is lightweight and can be set with one hand. All buttons follow the TC-80N3 layout reachable with the thumb (unfortunately only for right handed persons). There is the backlit display on top and below the three functional buttons MODE button, START/STOP button and light [☼] button which also acts as a HOLD button. Further down is the manual shutter release button, while the a Jog Dial is placed on the side.
Aputure AP-TR3C Jog Dial
The Jog Dial found in a recess on the side has a dual function. When pressed it selects between the seconds, minutes, hours reading and to confirm settings, while when rotated it changes the value of the selected reading from 1-99 or 1-59 respectively.
Aputure AP-TR3C release button detail
The release button can be pressed halfway for auto focusing and exposure reading then fully to trigger the shutter. When pressed fully it may be slid forward in the lock position for user timed long exposure shooting. In lock position like with most remote releases a red dot appears.
The Aputure AP-TR3C can also be used as a simple, wired remote shutter release, with no timer functions active, even without a battery.
Aputure AP-TR3C display detail
The LCD display is populated with Icons for self-timer, interval timer, long exposure timer and exposure count setting. When a specific function is active the relevant icon is blinking and the respective timer enters countdown. Further there are icons for Hold and low battery warning (not shown above).
Aputure AP-TR3C back view
Finally the back side is again identical to the OEM product in all detail.
Aputure AP-TR3C back closeup
Even the recess which is used as a repository for the remote socket cap found on earlier EOS 1 series cameras.
Aputure AP-TR3C battery compartment
The Aputure AP-TR3C is powered by button battery residing in a hinged slide out tray at the bottom of the controller.
Aputure AP-TR3C battery detail
The Lithium CR2032 (3V) battery is inserted face (+ pole) down. Although the manufacturer claims a 3 yr life for the battery, it drains out much earlier and since there is no on/off switch on the controller I would recommend that you better remove the battery from the controller if not used for long periods of time.
Canon N3 compatible plug
The Aputure AP-TR3C uses the 3-pin “N3” type connector, compatible with the mid and high level Canon cameras. However, the plug is totally made of plastic lacking Canon's metal jacket with the indentations that clip on the camera socket. That's actually the major qualitative difference between the original and the clone.

The Functions
The Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote Controller functions can be individually selected by the mode button and set by the Jog Dial.

Aputure AP-TR3C Self timer Display

Self-timer function: that starts shooting after a specified time period from the moment the "start" button is pressed.

Aputure AP-TR3C Intervalometer Display

Intervalometer function: that specifies the Interval time between exposures.

Aputure AP-TR3C Long Exposure Display

Long Exposure function: where the user may set the exposure duration on the remote, when the camera is in Bulb mode.

The above three function can be independently set anywhere from 1 second to 99 hours, 59 minutes, 59 seconds, while the...

Aputure AP-TR3C Number of Exposures Display

Number of Exposures function can be set from 1 to 99 or if set to 0 the controller activates the shutter until memory is full or the user stops the shooting process manually.

Aputure AP-TR3C All functions Display

Nevertheless, all functions may be combined together as we can see in the table below.


Self-timerSpecifies the start time of the exposure

Interval timerTime-lapse photography

Long exposuresAstrophotography

The set number of exposures is taken at 1-second intervalsSets the number of exposures for mode 1 and 2

After the self-timer delay, Interval timer beginsTime-lapse photography

After the self-timer delay, a long exposure beginsTime-lapse photography

After the self-timer delay, the set number of exposures are captured at 1-second intervalsTime-lapse photography

The long exposure is taken at set intervalsAstrophotography

The set number of exposures is taken at the set intervalsTime-lapse photography
After the self-timer delay, the long exposure is taken at the set intervalsAstrophotography
After the self-timer delay, the set number of exposures is taken at the set intervalsTime-lapse photography
The set number of  Long exposures is taken at the set intervalsAstrophotography
13After the self-timer delay, the set number of Long exposures is taken at the set intervalsAstrophotography

Incompatible combination, setting No 3 will be set automatically
Incompatible combination, setting No 6 will be set automatically

Using with a Camera

Canon EOS 550D + N3F-E3M Converter cable + Aputure AP-TRC3 timer controller
Pictured above is the Aputure AP-TR3C Timer Remote connected to a Canon EOS 550D / T3i via the Remote Shutter Terminal Converter Cable N3F to E3M

Very low price compared to the OEM product.
Very good quality for the price.
Operates as a simple Remote shutter release switch without battery.

Battery drains quicker than expected.
Non fully compatible N3 plug.

As I had mentioned in Shoot RS-80N3 compatible Remote Release Cable review a Pro wouldn't even bother to look at cheap alternatives and really shouldn't since max reliability could only be assured with an original Canon remote release. However, there is great market segment of enthusiasts and beginners that would like to experiment with time lapse photography who are not prepared to spend more than US $ 200 required for an original Canon TC-80N3. In this respect Aputure AP-TR3C is a very good quality alternative doing exactly the same job at a small fraction of the price.
Once again keep in mind that the illustrated remote release is marketed under different brand names at various prices.

I hope you found the article useful, thank you for viewing.
All Photos & Photosynths: © 2012 S.C.Vlachos

Aputure AP-TR3C Timer is available from Amazon or from eBay.

Relevant Articles:

Shoot RS-80N3 compatible Remote Release Cable for Canon

RS-60E3 Compatible Remote Release Cable for Canon

Remote Shutter Terminal Converter Cable N3F to E3M for Canon

YongNuo RC-5 Wireless Remote Control for Canon

YongNuo WRS II C3 Wireless Remote Control for Canon

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for this review. I have this unit and very much agree with your conclusion. I lost the manual, so I now rely on this site to provide what is better than what I remember from the original manual.