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Canon TC-80N3
EOS Timer Remote Controller
© 2012 KenRockwell.com. All rights reserved.

Intro   Specs   Performance & Usage   Compared    Recommendations   More

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Canon TC-80N3 Remote Cord

Canon TC-80N3 Cable Release (3 oz./85g including battery and cord, about $135 for the real thing or $14 for a copy). enlarge. My biggest source of support is when you use any of these links, especially this link directly to them at Adorama, directly to them at Amazon or directly to them at eBay when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live. Thank you! Ken.

September 2012   Canon Reviews   Canon Lenses   All Reviews

ET-1000N3 10 meter (32 foot) extension cord.

RS-80N3 Remote Switch.


Introduction         top

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Adorama pays top dollar for your used gear.

B&H Photo - Video - Pro Audio

I use these stores. I can't vouch for ads below.

This genuine Canon TC-80N3 is Canon's official exposure timer and remote control cord for their better 35mm and digital EOS cameras. (The RS-80N3 is the simpler remote-only cord.)

I'm reviewing the real thing, and since Canon gouges the price at $135, there are plenty of knock-offs available that do the same thing for one-tenth the price. I presume they work, but will fall apart if you actually use them. This one is well made in Japan.



The TC-80N3 has five modes, most of which can be used at the same time or in combination with each other if you like:


1.) Cable Release

Works like a regular remote release, and has the same two positions as your camera's shutter button: half-press to wake the meter and focus, and full press to shoot.

The TC-80N3 locks for time exposures simply by pressing its release button and pushing forward to lock.

If you just want this function, get the simpler RS-80N3 cord instead.


2.) Programmable Self Timer

Works like any other self-timer, but settable to any time from 1 second to 100 hours.

All the times here and below set in 1 second increments as hours, minutes and seconds (HH:MM:SS).

You can use the self-timer, and then have the other crazy modes below, like a time exposure, work after being triggered by the self timer.

For instance, at 3 in the afternoon, you can tell it to wait seven hours so you can go to sleep and it will start a long star-trail exposure for you at 10 PM while you're busy sleeping — or setting up practical jokes in the other guy's tents who don't have these fancy cords.


3.) Long Exposure Timer

Makes a timed exposure anywhere from 1 second to 100 hours long, without having to sit there and stare at a watch while holding a button the whole time.

You can use this mode along with the other modes to do crazy things like make several long exposures after waiting a few hours for the self timer to start it all.


4.) Interval Timer

Takes a picture every 1 second to 100 hours until you tell it to stop.

You can use this along with the above modes.


5.) Exposure Counter

Takes a set number of pictures, and stops.

If you don't set this and set a repeating mode, the camera could shoot forever in some modes.

You can use this along with the other functions.


Specifications         top

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Canon TC-80N3 box

Box, Canon TC-80N3.



Canon calls this the TC-80N3.

This means:

TC: Timer Controller.

80: 80 cm (32") long.

N3: Works with cameras and extension cords with the "N3" connector.



The TC-80N3 works on everything from the EOS 3 of 1998 through today's 1D X and 5D Mark III that use an "N3" connector with fine pins similar to the pins on a Compact Flash card socket:

Canon N3 remote Socket

Canon N3 remote Socket. Works with this!


Canon N3 plug

Canon TC-80N3 plug.

The "N3" plugs and sockets are somewhat flimsy, but on the bright side, they click-in and remove much faster than other kinds of screw-in remotes. They are also always locked; they won't pull-out unless you grab the silver outer case and pull to unlock and remove in one motion.

I'd really prefer a real screw-in mechanical cable release, but as these electronic cables go, this is much better than Nikon's multi-step screw-in affair.



The Rebels take a smaller plug that looks like a 2.5mm microphone plug. This remote doesn't work with the Rebels.

The earliest 1980s EOS cameras take a different cord with fatter contacts on the camera's socket, called a "T3" socket:

Canon N3 remote Socket

Old-Style 1980s Canon "T3" Remote Socket. Does not work with this!

This TC-80N3 cord will not work with cameras with the 1980's T3 style connector. Use the 60-T3 cord for those cameras.



CR2032 lithium cell.




80 cm.

2.6 feet.



5.63 x 1.57 x 0.8 inches.

143 x 40 x 20 millimeters.



Rated 3 oz. (85 g) including battery and cord.



CR2032 lithium cell.


Price, USA

September 2012: about $135.


Performance and Usage         top

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Without a battery the remote switch section works fine, but the timers won't time.


Attaching and Removing

It attaches by orienting the plug properly, and pushing straight-in on the center of the black part of the connector.

On new cameras like the 5D Mark III, the cord faces forwards. On older cameras like the EOS 3, the cord faces up.

When you connect it to your camera, pop the rubber socket plug from older cameras into the receptacle in the back of the remote switch so you don't lose it.

To remove, pull straight out on the silver outer part of the connector.



The backlight is a blue-green electroluminescent panel. It only works when you tap its button. It always times-out even if you're still exposing.

Since the buttons aren't illuminated, unless you use this thing every night, I doubt that anyone could use it well in the dark unless you've got another light with you.


Cable Release

To use simply as a remote cable release, you don't even need the battery; just press the big button.

Its shutter button works exactly like your camera's shutter button, with the additional feature that once pressed down, slide it forward to lock for time exposures. An orange fluorescent band shows when it's locked ON.

Most cameras count the exposure time on their top LCD while in Bulb.

The big remote shutter button is only used as the direct cable release; it's never used with any of the other modes below.


Advanced Functions

Surprisingly, it's easy to figure all the advanced functions in the light when you can see all the buttons.

Setting the times are easy: just press the jog wheel to blink Hours, Minutes or Seconds, and spin the knob to set them. Push-in again to set the next pair of digits (Hours, Minutes or Seconds). I found no fast way to reset to 00:00:00 other than to set each pair of digits to 00 with the jog dial.

The times for the Self Timer, Interval, and Long Exposure are all set separately, and may be set to different times.

All the functions can work at the same time with one another.

For instance, you can set a 20 second self timer, a 10 second interval and a 5 second long exposure. When you hit START, it waits 20 seconds, makes a 5 second exposure, waits 10 seconds, then makes another 5-second exposure, and so on.

If you set Interval other than zero, it keeps repeating forever. It only stops after a set number of frames if you set the FRAMES to a number other than zero. "00" really means infinity.

To activate once programmed, press the START/STOP button. The big shutter button on the TC-80N3 won't start the program; it will just shoot normally.


Compared         top

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$130 is a rip-off, which is why there are so many knock-offs sold for a fraction of the price.

Yes, you can buy copies for a tenth the price, but if you shoot for a living, it's worth getting ripped-off for so you never have to waste time with a crappy copy that stops working, or doesn't work as well.

One caveat is that the camera's pins are as delicate as a CF card socket's pins, and if you make any mistakes with a $15 knock-off and bend the pins in just the wrong way so the shutter is effectively always pressed, you could completely disable your camera, needing a $241 repair!


Recommendations         top

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Personally, I prefer the simpler RS-80N3 since my omly interests are remote releae and long exposures. Most Canon cameras time seconds on their top LCDs during bulb exposures anyway.

I don't use these very often, so it's easier for me to use the RS-80N3 and look at my top LCD for the long exposure time (most Canons count time while in bulb) than try to fiddle with learning this complex TC-80N3 and fiddle with it in the dark.

If you do time-lapse and other trick photography regularly, you'll want one of these, and want the genuine Canon article.

If you've found all the time, effort and expense I put into researching and sharing all this, this free website's biggest source of support is when you use these links, especially this link directly to them at Adorama, directly to them at Amazon or directly to them at eBay when you get anything, regardless of the country in which you live.

Thank you!



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Canon's TC-80N3 manual.


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