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Remote shutter release

As a beginner, I was taking photos of a stunning sunset when I noticed that my shots were not as sharp as I wanted them to be. After some research, I discovered that the culprit was my own shaky hands. Every time I pressed the camera's shutter button, I made tiny movements that resulted in blurry photos.

That's when I learned about remote shutter releases...


What is a remote shutter release?

The remote shutter release is a remote trigger that can be connected to your camera using a cable or wirelessly to release the shutter remotely. Quite self-explanatory indeed; the equipment lets you capture images without physically touching the shutter button.

Most photographers will always carry their beloved remote shutter release in their bags. Photographers who have just entered the scene also place this item on their “must-buy” list. So, what does it do?

Physically touching the shutter button is quite troublesome. The trigger will only take photos after being pressed and released, which is the biggest problem since you don’t want the slightest camera shake. The ability to take a shot without physically touching the camera greatly reduces potential shaking, making this item essential in every photographer’s arsenal.

It comes in two forms: tethered and untethered. Both of them have their advantages and disadvantages, which you can read more about below.

Tethered remote shutter release.
Tethered
Untethered remote shutter release.
Untethered

Tethered shutter release

The tethered release is also widely known as the “cable release.”

It is essentially a remote release that is connected to your camera. This option is friendlier to your budget as it is the more affordable alternative. When purchasing the tethered release, your first decision will be the brand or model, followed by the length. Short cables start at 4 to 6 inches, while longer cables can span over 5 feet.

Tip:

In this particular case, yes, longer is certainly better.

The main reason behind photographers purchasing remote releases is to reduce physical contact. This is because physical contact could shake the camera and create blurry images. Longer cables will lessen the probability of you shaking your camera and getting blurry photos.

The only disadvantage of the tethered shutter release is the length. Having a 5-foot-long tethered shutter release is surely beneficial for your photo shoot, but is it practical? Dragging a 5-foot-long cable will take up a lot of space in your bag, not to mention the weight, too.

Untethered shutter release

There is the modern-ish shutter release, with no strings attached (quite literally). It can easily be connected to your camera using infrared or Bluetooth. So what are the advantages?

  1. First, the most important advantage is its ability to let the photographer be in the frame. There will always be that one moment where one group member is excluded from the photo just to take it. Sometimes, they can just use a timer, but what if you’re in a rush? Luckily, the convenience of this remote release lets you pose comfortably and take photos easily.
  2. Secondly, you can take sights that would otherwise be impossible. This applies to shooting wildlife animals that actively avoid or attack humans on sight. This gadget will allow you to take tricky and dangerous shots at a safe distance.

So, how compatible is it with other camera models?

Manufacturers generally provide information about the model’s compatibility with devices, so check that before buying. You may think an untethered shutter release would be a no-brainer purchase, right?

Despite its superior flexibility and versatility in many situations, it still has a huge caveat. It is expensive, and you will need to carry batteries. Similar to every Bluetooth device, the batteries will run out pretty fast.

Tip:

Make sure to bring more batteries than you would usually need, especially for those long outdoor photography sessions.


How to use a remote shutter release?

The steps and knowledge required to use a remote shutter release are not that high. It all starts with you setting up your shot/frame by mounting your camera onto a tripod or stable surface.

Only after mounting should you run through your camera settings. Generally, photographers would go into manual mode and change the settings to meet their needs. Sometimes, they will also use bulb mode if the landscape/lightings are quite dark. For your information, some camera models have instant access to bulb mode, while others automatically enter bulb mode after exceeding the 30-second mark.

After achieving your aperture and shutter speed, you just need to press the button. When using the Cable shutter release, the control becomes really streamlined and simple. You just press the remote shutter release button, and you’re done.


Why use a remote shutter release?

The definition of remote shutter release clearly explains its existence. You will easily remove one of the human errors that might affect your images. The device is so handy that it lets professional photographers rest easy without worrying that their images will turn into a blurry mess.

If you fiddle with your camera’s settings long enough, you’ll soon realize that shooting under high magnification and slow shutter speed is prone to camera shakes (unless that is the look you are going for). Even the most delicate hands would risk the quality of the images. And imagine that the shaking problem is gone, all with a click of a button.

Remember:

Whether the remote shutter release is tethered or not, it will help you achieve high-quality, shake-free images in a single shot.

This piece of equipment will easily aid beginner photographers in mastering shooting without camera shakes. It also saves the professional photographer valuable time, which would otherwise be used to retake the image.

Besides the camera, remote shutters will also help you take images that use a slow shutter speed, high magnification, and even high-speed events. A specialized remote shutter release can easily capture a water drop, lightning striking the ground, or a car speedily passing by.

Before purchasing a remote shutter release, it is important to learn the compatibility of your camera and its remote release.


When should you use a remote shutter release?

Yes, you can use your remote shutter release excessively for every single occasion. Fortunately, there are also other situations where the usage of the remote shutter release becomes extremely useful.

1. Shooting timid, aggressive, or dangerous animals

Photographing animals may be impractical and dangerous to your equipment and your life. This is the moment for your ridiculously long cable shutter release to shine! Wildlife photographers often set up their cameras on a tripod near the subject or areas where they are usually sighted.

Set up some bait and wait for your subject to come into action.

2. Slow shutter speeds because of the low light

This is quite obvious. Thanks to the concept of exposure, we need a longer shutter speed to catch more light. The longer the shutter speed, the more light comes in, and the brighter the image becomes. Sadly, all of this will be ruined if your camera shakes ever so slightly. Further emphasizing the importance of a remote shutter release.

3. Slow shutter speed to intentionally catch motion blur or “light painting”

Sometimes, photographers want to give a still object or subject a sense of movement. The best way to do this is by light painting or incorporating motion blur.

This can be done by moving bright objects around your object/subject while using a slow shutter speed. You can literally draw with lights or capture the “city that never sleeps” themed image by using vehicle tail lights as the source of light.

4. Exposure bracketing or shooting in multiple exposures

Taking images of landscapes will often expose you to blinding light and pitch-black areas. To recover these scenes, they will usually use exposure bracketing. The method captures a scene at different exposures: one under-exposed, one correctly exposed, and the last one overexposed.

These three images will then be combined into one by taking the best-looking parts from each shot. The camera must not move or shake, so a remote shutter release is very important.


In conclusion, here's a recap:

  • The remote shutter release is a shutter release that removes physical contact from the original shutter lens on a camera. They will be either tethered (cable) or non-tethered (wireless).
  • A remote shutter release works just like your shutter release button. Depending on their type, some expensive ones have a few little add-ons.
  • It is recommended to use one since it can prevent retaking shots, animal attacks, and scaring away timid subjects. This equipment allows you to take images from a safe place without risking shaking the camera or your life.
  • Untethered is basically your TV remote, but it controls your camera. They are a luxury and quite expensive, but they do have exciting features that may aid your photographing journey.
  • Tethered is essentially the cheaper remote shutter release. They may be heavy depending on the length of the cable you chose, but they serve as a cheaper alternative that does just as well as its untethered brother does.
  • This item can be used in many situations, including photographing in low-light conditions, wildlife, light painting via slow shutter speeds, exposure bracketing, and more.

It's a little investment for a future full of shake-free images. There will always be a product that matches your camera model, and using it is quite simple, too! I hope this article successfully explained all the nooks and crannies of remote shutter releases to you.

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