Q&A / Remote Triggers or Shutter Releases Explained

Do you have a remote timer for camera?  I going to buy one for my Canon but not sure which one is good.  Can you recommend one?


Remote Triggers / Shutter Releases Explained
Something to trigger your camera shutter remotely is always a must-have tool.  There are various kinds of triggers and different names they go by: remote triggers, shutter release cables, etc.  They can be broken down into two categories:

1) Shutter Releases – something that just makes your camera take an exposure when you press the button.  They can be electronic or mechanical (depending on your camera).  A good thing to have if all you want to do is reduce the vibration your camera makes when taking a picture (your hand adds quite a bit of camera shake).  Most will also allow you to latch the shutter button to keep the shutter open on your camera with bulb mode.


Shutter Release Cable by Phottix


2) Intervalometers – they do the same thing as a shutter release plus, allows you to change time, duration and frequency of exposures.  A good tool to have if you want to time your long exposures without the need for a separate stopwatch.


Intervalometer by Phottix – This is what I use


Both categories of triggers can come in a wireless version, handy if you are away from your camera.  The Intervalometers are a bit more sophisticated than just triggering your camera.  You can set duration, length and delays on your exposures.  This type of trigger is great for long exposures, multiple expsoures and time lapse photography.  The downfall is they are more expensive and sometimes a bit bigger.  If you’re going to do any long exposures, multiple exposures or time lapses at all in your photography, or if you think you may in the future, I’d suggest getting an intervalometer right from the start.

One of the only times you can skimp out
The intervalometer I purchased about six years ago isn’t a Nikon or Canon brand.  It is by a third party, Phottix.  It was a fraction of the Nikon one and did exactly the same thing.  You can easily find them on Ebay.  There is also another company called Vello that makes them and I’ve been happy with the quality from other items I have from them.  I find the quality of third party cable releases and intervalometers to be on par with the named brands (i.e. Nikon and Canon). I’d suspect that they are even being made in the same factories in Asia ;)


Wireless Intervalometer by Vello



Examples from using my Intervalometer
One of my longest exposure photographs is of a lake called Payne Lake in Southern Alberta’s dark sky preserve, near Waterton National Park.  This single exposure was 70 minutes long.  Click on the image to learn more about this photograph.

Front Image 1 - Forever

Forver – 70 minute exposure


For more information on this topic feel free to drop me a line by replying to this blog post!

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2 Responses to “Q&A / Remote Triggers or Shutter Releases Explained”

  1. Susan Wolfe says:

    Great explanation, Jeff. Love you “Forever” image. I have a remote release. Sounds like I could use a intervalometer as well. I knew star trails took an extra long exposure, but I didn’t image it was 70 MINUTES!!

    • Jeff Cruz says:

      Thank you!! Yeah, star trails take some time. Generally, the wider the photo, the longer the exposure because you’d want to capture more of the trail. But that all depends on the look you’re going for and the focal length of your lens.

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