R/C camera gear may simply refer to what's often called a zoom controller. Less limited than its name suggests, a zoom controller may let the operator control not only zoom, but also focus, power, and other basic camera functions at a distance from the camera itself.
Such devices are easily mounted on a tripod arm, and usually cable-connected to the camera.
Not all units are easily mounted, however. The now-discontinued line of pan/tilt camera-control devices from Panasonic—models 7320, 7330, 7360, for example—were housed in bread loaf-sized boxes. But most models are considerably more compact.
For event videographers, even wired remote control opens up shooting opportunities that may not be otherwise available. Operators can use R/C devices to control more than one camera at a time, as a way to save on crew costs, reduce set-up time, or reduce the number and visibility of the video crew in sensitive or close-quarter settings.
Control the Camera or the Tripod
Remote control pan/tilt tripods like the Sunpak AP200, the Bescor MP-101, and the 21best.com Waterproof Pan & Tilt (WPT) system, offer basic control over pan and tilt functions, using custom-built heads and either wired or wireless connectivity. Depending on features and functions, such pan/tilt heads range in price from around $150 to $1000 and beyond.
Telemetrics, for example, offers advanced camera control and robotics systems for broadcast, sports, and videography applications. Using Telemetrics' CoaxLink Adapter and Base Station, a MiniDV camcorder can be transformed into a dual-purpose field/studio camera, with viewfinder, remote power, video, audio, and intercom all multiplexed on to a single coax cable.
Perhaps more affordable for the rest of us is an interesting concept from video-direct.com, a wireless remote control kit for most Sony and Canon camcorders. Combining a motorized pan head and a wireless transmission system, the kit supports start-stop record control, zoom, pan, tilt and transmission of video and stereo audio up to 300 feet. The kit is priced at $359.
Hi-Pod offers remote camera control with its telescoping monopod, for a complete camera support and control system. It includes LANC cabling (see next section), as well as an interval video feed for monitoring the shot (an LCD is included in the system). The yoke/pulley system controls the camera head assembly for panning and tilting. It also features power supply, carrying bag, and more with the system. It is priced around $3,000.
For multiple-camera remote control, a new system from Grizzly Pro, the r-THREE, will offer a camera control and support device kit (tripods, handheld controls, cables, and connections, etc.) for shoots involving up to three cameras. From a single control console, an operator can manage each camera individually.