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What Is a Remote Shutter Release?

A remote shutter release is a device which connects to your camera to allow you to remotely trigger the shutter on it without physically having to press the shutter down on the camera body itself.

While this can be a very useful accessory to have as part of your kit, there are different types and it is important to know the various options so you can figure out which is best for yourself. 

Do I Need A Remote Shutter Release?

The main reasons you would use a remote shutter release would be to reduce the chances of camera shake for long exposures, or when you can’t physically be near the camera when taking the photo. 

When using slower shutter speeds you may need to rely on a tripod, but using a remote trigger will ensure that you avoid any camera shake from pressing down the shutter button on the camera.

Here are some examples of situations where this can come in handy:

Telephoto lenses

With telephoto lenses your focal length is much longer so you need faster shutter speeds in general to avoid camera shake. 

Long exposures in bulb mode

In bulb mode or long exposures in general, your shutter speed will be long so it is an obvious example of where this could be useful. Think of astrophotography where you need to avoid camera shake as much as possible to make sure you can capture stars effectively.

Sports events

In sports events there are times that you may want to take a camera from a certain position, but you are unable to be in that position.

For example, an action shot from behind the backboard in a basketball match to capture a dunk. 

Nature

You might want to capture a subject which is either easy to scare away or simply dangerous to be around.

In these situations you can position your camera where you expect the subject to line up and trigger it remotely from a distance.

Sequence photography

In sequence you take multiple images of a moving subject in the same frame.

You need to ensure that the frames line up to each other and a remote trigger helps you do this as you don’t move the camera at all.

Types of Remote Shutter Releases:

Remote shutter releases can be broken into 2 different categories:

  • Tethered 
  • Untethered 

Tethered 

Wired triggers will be a simple cable release where the cable will plug into the camera and you use the trigger from a distance. It is best to check your cameras compatibility with cable releases and the user manual is the best place to check this. 

Cable releases are fairly simple and can be especially useful for long exposures in bulb mode.

A lot of cable releases will have a lock button to allow the button to be held down for longer without having to physically hold it down. 

Most of the time you won’t need to carry batteries with them either since they tend to just draw power from the camera.

These will also tend to be fairly inexpensive.

Untethered 

There are a few variations of untethered remote shutter releases and they all have slightly different features – the one thing they do have in common is that these are all wireless.

Infrared (IR)

Your camera will need to have an infrared receiver built in to it so make sure to check this before you buy one. These will be inexpensive whether you buy branded or third party devices and fairly simple to use.

You do need to make sure that you have a line of sight with your camera so that the camera can pick up the signal and you will need to make sure that you have batteries with enough charge.

The range on these will tend to be quite low and the average trigger has a range of about 5 metres.

Radio

These are more expensive than your IR triggers with higher range and are usable on high end cameras.  

You also do not need a direct line of sight with the camera like you do with IR triggers, so you could be round a corner and still trigger the shutter.

You may need to be cautious of anything that can interfere with electromagnetic waves because that is how these triggers work.

Smartphone App

A lot of modern cameras have a smartphone app to go with it which will allow you to control your camera’s shutter and even the settings.

These shouldn’t cost you anything and you will tend to have your smartphone with you at all times, so they can be a good option.

Specialised triggers

These are special triggers which trigger based on certain conditions. For example, a lightning trigger will go off when there is a flash of light.

Another example are triggers that go off from sound – these are used in rocket launches. In these cases the trigger itself is making the decision rather than you setting the trigger. 

Which remote trigger is right for me?

Unless you know you definitely need a very large range, IR or cable is probably your best bet since they are cheap, fairly easy to use and they are quite small. 

Use the simple table below to help guide you.

TypeRangeWirelessPrice
CableLowNoLow
Infrared (IR)LowYesLow
Radio HighYesMedium
SpecialisedHighYesHigh
Remote shutter release types

We hope you found this helpful! As always we appreciate your time for reading this.
– Photography Pursuits Team

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