Inevitably, I was going to shave the plug end. If you have no idea what I’m waffling on about (join the club) then click here. So, a little judicious filing away of the black plastic and wala… whalla… oua’la… how on earth does one spell voilà!? 😉
I’ve kept nuclear power stations on the bars with short pieces of string! I’ve held cities alive with crocodile clips! If it comes to that I’ve also shut down a major shopping centre with a hammer drill – on a Saturday! Ahem. I’m not going to stand back and let poor quality control and a mis-manufactured plug stop me…
So we’re in business. Almost. The Arsenal now speaks to the Canon 5D mk III. But wait…
I tend to shoot in Manual, and so that’s what the camera is set to. The camera is on a tripod, required for Smart Mode. Hitting Live View on my iPhone 7 I get a black screen, albeit one on which I appear to be able to touch focus. Clicking the shutter button I get “Please move the mode dial to Av”… Just to be awkward I set the camera to Tv, but I get the same message. That’s right – I never read the manual…
On Av, and I’m now getting a decent Live View on my iPhone. Ok, so all you folk with later cameras, like 760D and 80D… you’re used to iPhone connectivity. I’m very hopeful this will help me not buy a new camera body for another year or so. That’s why I bought into the Kickstarter when all I had was the 7D mk I. Of course, I did go out and buy another camera body (shut up!)
The Arsenal offers Exposure and Focus Stacking, but I’ll ignore those for now. It also offers Long Exposure Blending, which would appear to be an electronic solution for not bringing a ND filter along. That will therefore prove useful, because I have two and I seldom remember to carry them! There are other functions too including Mirror Lockup (which defaults to Auto, presumably for Live View).
In Smart Mode (default) the Arsenal offers touch point focusing – single and multipoint – and whole scene focus. That appears to constantly check and recheck and reduces the shutter speed and ISO depending on vibrations detected on the Arsenal. I guess Smart Mode isn’t going to offer much more, because it’s… Smart. ie doing most of the work for the photographer. Smart Mode requires a tripod, probably because of the vibration sensing. I gather (untested yet) Manual etc can be handheld.
Manual is more fun. Here (in Live View) I get a real time tricolour histograph, and control over Exposure, Aperture and ISO. As we’ve already discovered Tv doesn’t seem to be available (yet). Changes are applied quickly, and I notice if I set the ISO to Auto (one setting down from 100) it slips up to 3200, which is the upper auto limit I’d previously set on my camera. I have the 24 – 105 F4 mounted, and the F-Stops available run from 4 to 22, which is the range I would expect. Exposure runs -5 to +5.
[addendum: I now see that using Manual Mode and setting the camera to Manual I can adjust shutter, focal length and ISO (but not exposure).]
I’ve not yet played with Timelapse, which is the next screen, but I’m looking forward to draining all my batteries watching sunrises and storm fronts… and I almost never shoot video – the last of the four options. Oh, hang on… “Arsenal does not currently support video on th…” Better check time lapse… yes, that’s ok.
So that’s the end of day one, in two parts. There seems to be a bit of quality control stroking with regard to the camera cable, at least the Micro-to-Mini USB one. The Arsenal itself though looks sleek and well made, was packaged well, and I’ve neglected thus far to show you the funky blue led light show on the back of the Arsenal when it takes a picture.
The app is at version 0.8.51, which suggests it’s still in beta, and that would feel right given the lack of video, the lack of shutter priority and the occasional comms error between the unit and the camera. One final thought. I was hoping that when the iPhone commanded a shot from the Arsenal, it would be able to pin GPS location to the image. That doesn’t seem to be the case at this time.
I bought into the Kickstarter because I wanted remote control over my 7D mk I (haven’t tried it on old reliable yet), and I seem to have that. I would have liked GPS reporting, and I’m expecting Tv and Video in the version one release.
I leave you with the boring image of my book cases, which were my test bed for this review. I’m going to set up an Arsenal folder on my Flickr account, so you can see what I’ve taken using it over the next year. Part three… well, don’t wait up. I’ll get there. And if you have questions or comments, do post them below.