What is a Remote Shutter Release? Do I Need One?

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Do you wonder what a remote shutter release is? Do you want to know if you need one? It’s a pretty useful piece of equipment to have in your camera bag, and many photographers swear by them and never leave home without one.

What is a Remote Shutter Release? Do I Need One?

We know photography equipment can be quite expensive, but this piece of camera accessory is not. Remote shutter triggers are affordable and accessible for any level photographer. You can learn to use a remote shutter release even if you are an absolute beginner.

Read on if you’ve never owned a remote shutter release and want to know what they do and how they can be valuable in your photography projects. 

What is a Remote Shutter Release?

A remote shutter release will let you take photos without pressing down on your camera’s shutter button. Yes, you can take photos without even touching your camera! These are small devices that tell your camera to take a photo from a distance. The shutter release “talks” to your camera, and when you press the button on the device, your camera shoots your photograph. 

Shooting without pressing the shutter button, when you stabilize your camera on a tripod or other equipment, will keep it from moving and this will prevent shake and blur in your images.

There are a few different models of remote shutter releases, but they all have the same basic function. 

Main Types of Remote Shutter Releases

1. Mechanical Cable Release

The mechanical cable release, also called threaded cable release, is a pioneer in remote shutter releases. It doesn’t work with all camera types but will work with a camera that has a standard threaded release. 

Foto&Tech 100cm Mechanical Shutter Release Cable with Bulb-Lock Compatible with Nikon Df/ F80/ F4/ FM2/ F3/ FE/ FM3a, Fujifilm X-E3/X-Pro2/X10/X100/X-PRO1/X-E1/DF-1, Leica M6/M8/AE-1,Minolta SRT-200
Mechanical Cable ReleaseI

Many photographers prefer this type of shutter release because they don’t want to deal with new technology or batteries. Old school cool!

Pros

  • Inexpensive
  • Reliable
  • Easy to use
  • No batteries necessary

Cons

  • Limited range
  • Not available for all cameras

2. Tethered Shutter Releases

The tethered shutter releases are connected directly to your camera with a wire and triggered with a battery-operated device that you hold in your hand. These are quite popular with photographers of all types. Obviously you can only go as far as the wire is long. 

Neewer Shutter Release Timer Remote Control Cord Compatible with Canon EOS 550D/Rebel T2i, 450D/Xsi, 400D/Xti, 350D/XT, 300D 60D 600D 500D 1100D 1000D 10D 20D 30D 40D 50D
Neewer Shutter Release Timer Remote Control

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Inexpensive
  • Easy to use
  • Fits with most cameras

Cons

  • Limited range
  • Requires batteries

3. Wireless Infra-Red Shutter Release

The wireless infra-red remote shutter releases are by far the least expensive shutter triggers on the market today. Make sure your camera has an infra-red receiver before you purchase this type of shutter release.

The shutter release needs to be in range and pointing at the receiver on the camera to work properly.

Foto&Tech IR Wireless Remote Control Compatible with Sony A7R IV III II,A7III A9 A7 II A7 A7R A7S A6600 A6500 A6400 A6300 A6000 A55 A65 A77 A99 A900 A700 A580 A560 A550 A500 NEX-7 NEX-6 NEX5T NEX-5R

Foto&Tech IR Wireless Remote Control Compatible with Sony A7R IV III II,A7III A9 A7 II A7 A7R A7S A6600 A6500 A6400 A6300 A6000 A55 A65 A77 A99 A900 A700 A580 A560 A550 A500 NEX-7 NEX-6 NEX5T NEX-5R

Wireless IR Remote Control For Sony Cameras

When I was shooting with Sony, the IR shutter released was the cheapest and most used gadget in my camera bag.

Pros

  • Super inexpensive 
  • Reliable
  • Easy to use

Cons

  • Limited range
  • Requires batteries

4. Wireless Radio Shutter Release

The wireless radio shutter releases are more reliable than the infra-red and have a broader range. Some can release the shutter from astounding distances and even through walls. 

PIXEL FSK 2.4GHz Wired or Wireless Timer Shutter Remote Control for Nikon D5200 D3100 D5000 D7200 D600 D610 D750 D3200 D3300 Cameras
Wireless Timer Shutter Remote Control

Pros

  • Reliable
  • Large range

Cons

  • Can be expensive
  • Requires batteries in both, receiver and controller

5. Smartphone App Releases

Almost every camera manufacturer develops camera apps now with which you can play with a variety of features on your camera, including releasing your shutter remotely. Download the app for your camera brand on your smartphone or tablet and you can start to shoot remotely.
Make sure your camera is a newish model that supports wifi or Bluetooth.

FUJIFILM Camera Remote

Pros

  • Has many advanced features
  • Free

Cons

  • The connection can be unreliable
  • Need wifi or Bluetooth on your camera

6. Fully-Featured Camera Remotes

These are the most professional of the shutter release remotes. They can be tethered or wireless, depending on your photographic needs. The fully-featured remotes have more features than the regular shutter triggers.

Fiil CamFi Pro PLUS Wireless Tethering & Remote Controller for DSLR Camera, Compatible with Canon, Nikon, Sony, Fuji, Phase One, Panasonic, Supports Lightroom and Capture One (Camera NOT included)
Wireless Timer Shutter Remote Control

One of the most popular features is an intervalometer for time-lapse photography. Other optional features you may find on these remotes are motion detection and lightning triggers.

Pros

  • Professional features
  • Reliable
  • Versatile

Cons

  • Can be big
  • Expensive
  • Requires batteries

When Do  You Need Remote Shutter Releases

There are a few reasons and situations where a remote shutter trigger comes in very handy

When Using Longer Exposures

The first thing to know is that a remote shutter release comes hand-in-hand with a tripod. When doing long exposure photography, it’s essential that your camera is secured to a solid surface and triggered remotely to avoid camera shake. 

When shooting with a tripod I always use shutter release

When You Need to Control Camera from the Distance

Many landscape photographers, wildlife photographers, astrophotographers use remotes practically every time they shoot. They often photograph with telephoto lenses and a tripod. They can set their camera and stand away as far as the remote will allow. 

When Shooting in Bulb Mode

Shooting long exposure, or in Bulb mode, will require that your camera stays as stable as possible and a remote shutter release is essential. The slower the shutter speed, the more steady the camera has to be.

When Shooting Time-Lapses

Have you ever thought of doing time-lapse photography? These projects can be pretty cool. You will definitely need a remote shutter release if you want to do this type of photography.

When Shooting Selfies

Do you like taking selfies? Do you like to take group portraits with you in the photos? A shutter release will come in very handy for this as well.

Useful Trick – The Poor Man’s Shutter Release

Here’s a trick if you don’t have a remote shutter release. Set the 2-second delay camera functionality to trigger the shutter and minimize camera shake. The camera will shoot the photo 2 seconds after you have pressed the shutter.

Since my Fujifilm Xt2 does not have Infra-Red support and it takes time to attach a mechanical cable release, I most often use a 2-second delay to trigger my shots when on a tripod.

Conclusion

Remote shutter releases are very inexpensive and you should invest in one and keep it in your camera bag at all times. They are small and not heavy to carry, so there is no excuse not to have one. 

Of course, remote shutter releases are not suitable for all photography projects. But we’re pretty sure that once you start using one, you will enjoy it and use it more and more.

We all want to achieve the best possible professional-looking photographs that we can. Small camera accessories like remote shutter releases can help you to accomplish this. Nothing says amateur like a blurry photo that shows camera shake.  

  • Anyse Joslin says:

    Wow! You left out the MIOPS gadget that lets one do more that just a shutter release: long exposure, when something falls through a laser, it can take something in motion as it passes through the lens area and much more. I love mine! I have a Nikon D610 and this device works through an app on my phone or iPad Pro.

    • Viktor Elizarov says:

      I am aware of MIOPS but I never used it. Do you have Smart or Plus version?

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