Using Shutter Release Cables in Digital Photography - Digital Photography School

Using Shutter Release Cables in Digital Photography

There are a variety of techniques you can use to reduce camera shake and increase the sharpness of the images that you take. Some, like using a tripod, have a fairly major impact (they’re no brainers really) while others do have an impact – but they’re generally fairly small.

One of those smaller techniques that a number of readers of DPS have been writing to me about recently is the use of shutter release cables (or remote shutter release devices).

The majority of digital photographers who are taking everyday shots of family and friends won’t go here – but serious photographers who spend a lot of time lining up shots and wanting to eliminate even the smallest camera shake will want to invest in a shutter release cable – particularly those shooting with longer shutter speeds where even the smallest camera movement (like the depressing of a shutter with even the lightest touch) can have an impact.

Shutter release cables are available for all major DSLRs and some point and shoots and come in a variety of flavors including the traditional cables and the more recent wireless models that often use infrared technology.

Of course if you’re using a shutter release cable you’ll want your camera to be mounted on a tripod or on some other completely still object.

But what happens if you don’t have a shutter release and you’re wanting to use a long exposure time and are worried about camera shake? Fortunately your digital camera has another feature built into it that can help – your self timer.

While digital camera self timers are not designed with this purpose in mind they are one way of ensuring no camera shake at all when taking an image. Of course you’ll need to anticipate the moment to take the image 10 or so seconds before taking it (not the best for any subject matter that’s moving or changing) however it’s a useful thing to keep in mind when doing landscape or still life photography.

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Darren Rowse is the editor and founder of Digital Photography School and SnapnDeals. He lives in Melbourne Australia and is also the editor of the ProBlogger Blog Tips. Follow him on Instagram, on Twitter at @digitalPS or on Google+.

  • Myke

    Newer DSLRs and P&Ses have custom timers which can be set for at least a second I think. At least others have 2 second timers. I use that often when shooting at night especially night scapes.

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/sboydphoto/ Simon Boyd

    Nice tip, i always use the timer for important shots. I use a P/S sony f828 so it doesnt have a mirror, i was thinking up upgrading to a dslr soon and was wondering if the shutter mechanism with the moving mirror will add any shake to the camera if set on timer or cable release. and if so is it neglible or a case of just using IS lenses to overcome this. and yes i do realise IS lenses may add blur if on a tripod.

  • Mat

    some SLR also offer mirror lockup to further remove vibrations

  • Fred Neale

    I frequently use a shutter release cable when I’m hand holding at slow shutter speeds. By leaning against a wall, tucking elbows in and taking a deep breath I have successfully hand held at .5 seconds. Even at around 1/60th I prefer to use a cable – so much more spontaneous than using the timer.

  • Bob Fuhrman

    Good info but there is another less used purpose for a cable release.
    I do wildlife photography and very often it is advantageous to place the camera outside of a blind or my cover screen.
    I primarily use a Pansonic DMC FZ20 but have only been able to find a 3′ electroninc cable. Which, while helpful, is not nearly long enough in many cases.
    Does anyone know of a longer electronic cable release?

  • http://www.petrilopia.net/ Petri Lopia

    To Bob Fuhrman:
    Check if you can find extension cable for your cable release.
    It should not be hard or big thing to make that one yourself either.

  • kvct

    I’m kinda curious.. i understand the importance of shutter release cable.. but in a way.. could this be substitude by the remote control available with DSLR these days?

    thanks.

  • Ed Galen

    I have a Canon eos 40D and am looking for an electronic cable release which is affordable….Any ideas?

  • tom

    The EOS series use a 1.5mm stereo headphone jack, and you can easily find some instructions online on how to make a shutter release cable of any length. I made one with a focus button, shutter release button, and shutter release switch (for bulb mode) and it cost less than $8.00, and about half an hour of soldering (which I am not good at!)

  • mark

    my camera has a 2-second self timer which I decided is to reduce camera shake. I use it all the time!

  • http://none. John Wright

    To the best of my knowledge remotes only work when used infront of the camera whereas the cable works wherever you want to stand and extensions can be purchased to give that bit extra distance from the camera if necessary, they are also considerably cheaper.

  • Karen Doidge

    Very useful information. Thanks

  • http://mizmorot.com sharon

    Hi
    I bought the nikon p 90 how can I use BULB in this camera?
    can I use a remote shutter in my nikon p 90?
    sharon

  • sheri kelley

    i have a question and problem. I use the rapid shot for action shots and it takes about 6-10 at in a second or two. I have a canon E30 and I am a beginner. my problem is that i get very blurry shots in low light, the autoflash dont work on this setting. how can i get clear bright shots in low light with the rapid shot setting. is there a special feature that i can set it on? I shoot my sons bull riding at night in rodeos or convention centers which have low light. please advise…
    sheri

  • http://www.incredipics.net Stuart Smith

    If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can make your own shutter release cable. There are several DIY instructions available on the net for several different camera brands, just Google “(Camera Brand) DIY Shutter release” and you should be able to find them. I would compare a couple of designs to make sure the wiring is correct. I have a SONY a350 that I built a 15′ remote for and it works great!
    Happy shooting!

    -Stu

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/sanjeed/ Quazi Ahmed Hussain

    I learned the shutter release cable for my Canon EOS 450D is model RS50-E3. It’s not available with our local Canon distributor. No idea where to find it and how much it costs! Also wondering whether any firmware update is necessary to activate it!

    Any suggestions please? Thanks in advance.

  • Floyd Stearns

    Last year, I wanted to take a self portrait to give to my wife on Valentines Day. I had made a fifteen foot extension (from a microphone cable) for the cable that came with my camera. I set up the camera on a tripod and held the remote switch out of sight on my lap. I took a lot of shots with some minor changes to my pose. After I selected the image I wanted, I used PS Elements to remove the section of cable that was in the scene. I was very pleased with the results.

  • http://www.remoteshutterrelease.com/ Remote shutter release

    I’m debating between an infrared release and a cable-based one – any recommendations from people who have used both?

  • Floyd Stearns

    SEE ABOVE, JANUARY 4

  • http://shuttersbay.com/ shutters

    Really good article, it was a plaisure to learn it. I despatched it to all my friends. Actually thanks, the whole lot is de facto true.

  • http://noneyet.com mike

    whats the longest 1 out there and how much could it be??? i need 2 of them at 8′ ft long

  • http://todaywwjd.com Mary Beth

    is shutter release cables the same as a remote control that comes with camera?

  • http://www.flickr.com/photos/jbuchanan725 Jamie B

    Are there any specific shutter release cables or shutter release wireless remotes you would recommend?

    I have a Canon XTi

  • http://www.bellissimofoto.com Christopher Blumenshine

    Go to Ebay and you can find cheap shutter releases.

    FOTO

  • https://www.facebook.com/photographybymichaely Michael Y

    I’m currently using the Nikon D5100 love the Camera. Amazon has some great deals on Cable release and it has a lock on it for longer exposures something to think about when doing night scene or perhaps also bulb use. 1 Meter= 3 feet works for me.

  • http://NA Rosemary Neilson

    Hope this doesn’t sound too stupid. How do you connect the shutter release cable to the camera? Is there an input for it? If so, where is it? Planning to buy a shutter release cable for a Nikon D5000 and from the illustrations I’ve seen on Amazon and EBay, I notice that the cable end looks like the end of a USB cable. Is there an input on the camera in which to insert this cable end? I’ve tried to research this myself but must be looking in the wrong places. Not contained in Nikon D5000 user manual either. ?
    Thanks if you can help me. I’m desperate.

  • Leon

    How do you focus when you use a wirelees remote shutter release devices? I have a Canon 60D.

  • tonyidaho

    I have the Canon wireless remote as well as a cheaper version and they are very convenient, more so than the 3ft. cable release but the range isn’t much better. Is there a higher quality higher range wireless option?

  • Extra useful info
  • Hugh Sylvia

    How do I use a wired remote with my Canon T 3 ? When I tried I had to disconnect it from the camera to see my settings or any photos I had taken.

  • Ravindra Kathale

    Kindly tell me whether shutter release cables are camera/brand specific. I have a Sony Nex and an Olympus SZ-10. Will I need to buy 2 or one will do? Thanks.

Some older comments

  • Leon

    July 5, 2013 04:05 am

    How do you focus when you use a wirelees remote shutter release devices? I have a Canon 60D.

  • Rosemary Neilson

    April 12, 2013 02:24 am

    Hope this doesn't sound too stupid. How do you connect the shutter release cable to the camera? Is there an input for it? If so, where is it? Planning to buy a shutter release cable for a Nikon D5000 and from the illustrations I've seen on Amazon and EBay, I notice that the cable end looks like the end of a USB cable. Is there an input on the camera in which to insert this cable end? I've tried to research this myself but must be looking in the wrong places. Not contained in Nikon D5000 user manual either. ?
    Thanks if you can help me. I'm desperate.

  • Michael Y

    February 26, 2013 08:51 am

    I'm currently using the Nikon D5100 love the Camera. Amazon has some great deals on Cable release and it has a lock on it for longer exposures something to think about when doing night scene or perhaps also bulb use. 1 Meter= 3 feet works for me.

  • Christopher Blumenshine

    July 27, 2012 05:31 am

    Go to Ebay and you can find cheap shutter releases.

    FOTO

  • Jamie B

    June 23, 2011 10:15 pm

    Are there any specific shutter release cables or shutter release wireless remotes you would recommend?

    I have a Canon XTi

  • Mary Beth

    December 31, 2010 01:23 am

    is shutter release cables the same as a remote control that comes with camera?

  • mike

    November 17, 2010 10:28 pm

    whats the longest 1 out there and how much could it be??? i need 2 of them at 8' ft long

  • shutters

    October 29, 2010 02:07 am

    Really good article, it was a plaisure to learn it. I despatched it to all my friends. Actually thanks, the whole lot is de facto true.

  • Floyd Stearns

    February 10, 2010 12:37 pm

    SEE ABOVE, JANUARY 4

  • Remote shutter release

    February 10, 2010 09:03 am

    I'm debating between an infrared release and a cable-based one - any recommendations from people who have used both?

  • Floyd Stearns

    January 4, 2010 11:08 am

    Last year, I wanted to take a self portrait to give to my wife on Valentines Day. I had made a fifteen foot extension (from a microphone cable) for the cable that came with my camera. I set up the camera on a tripod and held the remote switch out of sight on my lap. I took a lot of shots with some minor changes to my pose. After I selected the image I wanted, I used PS Elements to remove the section of cable that was in the scene. I was very pleased with the results.

  • Quazi Ahmed Hussain

    November 12, 2009 08:20 pm

    I learned the shutter release cable for my Canon EOS 450D is model RS50-E3. It's not available with our local Canon distributor. No idea where to find it and how much it costs! Also wondering whether any firmware update is necessary to activate it!

    Any suggestions please? Thanks in advance.

  • Stuart Smith

    August 21, 2009 03:27 am

    If you are handy with a soldering iron, you can make your own shutter release cable. There are several DIY instructions available on the net for several different camera brands, just Google "(Camera Brand) DIY Shutter release" and you should be able to find them. I would compare a couple of designs to make sure the wiring is correct. I have a SONY a350 that I built a 15' remote for and it works great!
    Happy shooting!

    -Stu

  • sheri kelley

    August 5, 2009 08:22 am

    i have a question and problem. I use the rapid shot for action shots and it takes about 6-10 at in a second or two. I have a canon E30 and I am a beginner. my problem is that i get very blurry shots in low light, the autoflash dont work on this setting. how can i get clear bright shots in low light with the rapid shot setting. is there a special feature that i can set it on? I shoot my sons bull riding at night in rodeos or convention centers which have low light. please advise...
    sheri

  • sharon

    July 3, 2009 03:37 pm

    Hi
    I bought the nikon p 90 how can I use BULB in this camera?
    can I use a remote shutter in my nikon p 90?
    sharon

  • Karen Doidge

    June 10, 2009 05:15 pm

    Very useful information. Thanks

  • John Wright

    December 31, 2008 09:56 pm

    To the best of my knowledge remotes only work when used infront of the camera whereas the cable works wherever you want to stand and extensions can be purchased to give that bit extra distance from the camera if necessary, they are also considerably cheaper.

  • mark

    November 15, 2008 03:44 am

    my camera has a 2-second self timer which I decided is to reduce camera shake. I use it all the time!

  • tom

    June 26, 2008 07:14 pm

    The EOS series use a 1.5mm stereo headphone jack, and you can easily find some instructions online on how to make a shutter release cable of any length. I made one with a focus button, shutter release button, and shutter release switch (for bulb mode) and it cost less than $8.00, and about half an hour of soldering (which I am not good at!)

  • Ed Galen

    June 23, 2008 10:30 am

    I have a Canon eos 40D and am looking for an electronic cable release which is affordable....Any ideas?

  • kvct

    September 12, 2007 03:38 pm

    I'm kinda curious.. i understand the importance of shutter release cable.. but in a way.. could this be substitude by the remote control available with DSLR these days?

    thanks.

  • Petri Lopia

    April 3, 2007 03:57 pm

    To Bob Fuhrman:
    Check if you can find extension cable for your cable release.
    It should not be hard or big thing to make that one yourself either.

  • Bob Fuhrman

    February 23, 2007 07:08 am

    Good info but there is another less used purpose for a cable release.
    I do wildlife photography and very often it is advantageous to place the camera outside of a blind or my cover screen.
    I primarily use a Pansonic DMC FZ20 but have only been able to find a 3' electroninc cable. Which, while helpful, is not nearly long enough in many cases.
    Does anyone know of a longer electronic cable release?

  • Fred Neale

    November 28, 2006 12:23 pm

    I frequently use a shutter release cable when I'm hand holding at slow shutter speeds. By leaning against a wall, tucking elbows in and taking a deep breath I have successfully hand held at .5 seconds. Even at around 1/60th I prefer to use a cable - so much more spontaneous than using the timer.

  • Mat

    November 27, 2006 06:51 pm

    some SLR also offer mirror lockup to further remove vibrations

  • Simon Boyd

    November 24, 2006 12:43 pm

    Nice tip, i always use the timer for important shots. I use a P/S sony f828 so it doesnt have a mirror, i was thinking up upgrading to a dslr soon and was wondering if the shutter mechanism with the moving mirror will add any shake to the camera if set on timer or cable release. and if so is it neglible or a case of just using IS lenses to overcome this. and yes i do realise IS lenses may add blur if on a tripod.

  • Myke

    November 20, 2006 10:33 pm

    Newer DSLRs and P&Ses have custom timers which can be set for at least a second I think. At least others have 2 second timers. I use that often when shooting at night especially night scapes.

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