How to use the RC-6 remote control

How to use the Canon RC-6 remote control

What is a remote control for a DSLR?

A remote control for a DSLR is a separate device that is used to trigger the shutter. So instead of pressing the shutter button down, you use the remote control instead. Remote controls can either be wired (and plug in to the side of the camera) or wireless. The latter are increasingly common and are now used more often. In many cases you can also use your phone or tablet to control your camera, using WiFi or Bluetooth to control the DSLR. The Canon 80D, for example, enables you to use any of these devices to take pictures without pressing the shutter release button.
The advantage a remote control has over a phone or tablet is that it only has one function - to control the shutter release. This means they are small, light and very easy to use. A phone, on the other hand, needs some setting-up before it can control the camera and, whilst it can do more than just control the shutter, the additional functionality means that it is overly cumbersome when you just want to take a remote controlled shot. Using WiFi or Bluetooth also uses more battery power from the camera than the simple remote requires.

When would you use a remote control for a DSLR?

There are a number of occasions when you might prefer to use a remote control instead of pressing the shutter release button. The most common ones are:
- Slow shutter speeds - you want that perfect slow shutter speed shot, so you set the camera on a tripod, get the composition just right and then trigger the shutter. But pressing the button on the camera can introduce movement, resulting in camera shake and a blurry image. Using a remote control does away with that - you don't touch the camera at all to trigger the shot.
- Distance shots - you want to take a shot but cannot be right next to the camera. For example, you might be setting up your subjects (perhaps playing with a pet or entertaining a child to get the right shot) so need to be in front of the lens (but out of shot). With a remote control, you can trigger the shot without having to dash back behind the lens and risk someone moving.
- Self-portrait work - you need to be in shot, so cannot be behind the lens. Using the remote allows you to do that.

More complex shots, such as needing to hide from wildlife as you take a shot, can also be achieved with a remote. However, these are generally better-suited to using the more advanced camera or tablet control as you can then see what is in shot whilst hiding.

What is the Canon RC-6 remote control?

The Canon RC-6 is a small, robust, inexpensive and very simple remote control for use on Canon EOS cameras. It has only two buttons - and you would normally only use one of them for photography work. Whilst non-Canon branded options are available, I've opted for the Canon branded option for the certainty that it will work as planned. The RC-6 comes with a handy pouch to hold the remote on the camera strap for easy access, meaning it will never get lost when you are out and about.

How to use the Canon RC-6 remote control

When I first got my Canon EOS 80D camera and RC-6 remote control, I was surprised. There were no instructions! Yes, there is only one button that matters for photography work, but no paperwork to say how this one button worked. I looked online - and found a wealth of pages that simply said to point the RC-6 remote at the camera and press the button. If this didn't work, they said, the remote was broken. Well, it didn't work. But the remote wasn't broken. There is ONE thing you must do to get the remote to work - tell the camera to listen for the remote signal.
So, to make using the RC-6 remote control even easier - here's how to use it....

Step 1

How to switch on the Canon EOS 80D

Switch your camera on. This is the Canon EOS 80D (switch is on the top-left.

Step 2

Press the Q button

Press the Q button on the back. This image is of a Canon EOS 80D, but a similar arrangement is in place for other Canon cameras.

This will make the quick menu appear. Note that the actual display of the quick menu will vary depending on what setting you have the camera on.

Step 3

Choose the shooting mode from the Q Menu

From the Q menu select the drive mode (highlighted in the image here). This may be through a touch-screen (as on the Canon EOS 80D) or by moving the selector using the controls.

Step 4

Choose the drive mode with timer

Choose the drive mode with timer

Choose one of the drive modes with a self-timer. The first will take a shot 10 seconds after the shutter release has been pressed; the second will fire a shot 2 seconds after the shutter release has been pressed.

Both can be used with the remote. In this case, the shot will be taken 10 (or 2) seconds after the button on the remote has been pressed.

Step 5

Image from Canon.

Set up the camera on a tripod, and set the composition as required. Then, simply press the round button on the remote to trigger the timer. You need to point the remote towards the camera. When the camera receives the signal it will flash a light on the front to tell you the timer has been started.