DIY: Remote shutter release

This article is written about a DIY remote shutter release I built for a Canon camera. However, the tips and recommendations can be used to find the information and build similar cables for other camera brands.

Long time ago I was looking to buy a remote shutter release for my Canon Rebel XS. I wanted to start long exposure photography and I was on a budget. Initially I considered buying a knock-off from Hong-Kong but then I found these D.I.Y. sites showing you how to build your own. Having a background on electronics and in possession of a soldering iron I immediately set course to buy the parts and build it myself. If you ever soldered any stereo plug (headphones anyone?) this shouldn’t be any more difficult.

First step is to know how to wire, or which pin does what.


MG_4370bIn this picture we can see the pin assignments for Canon cameras:

1. Shutter
2. Focus
3. Ground

By shorting any of 1 or 2 to ground we will be activating shutter or focus. The cable I built has two trigger options, a push button which just sends a pulse to trigger focus or shutter. And a dip switch to keep shutter open (bulb mode). This switch allows me to keep shutter open as long as I want.

So, short circuit tip (1) to ground to release shutter and short circuit sleeve (2) to ground to make the camera focus. It’s that simple.

I’ve already build my release cable so I can’t show you the steps. But below you’ll find links to pages I follow when building it.

Material needed to build this cable:

Three position switch.

Two wire push buttons.

Stereo cable.

Micro stereo jack.

Case (I used an old film case, hard to find these days…)

For instructions on how to build it I will refer to one of the pages I used, it contains a step-by-step instruction by Tim Trott.

Here are a few more pictures of the cable remote release I built.


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That was then

Now I have a smart phone which happens to have an IR transmitter. These where common a few years ago but now they are rare. However, having one opens a lot of possibilities.
If you search Google Play store you’ll find plenty of apps to remote trigger your camera. I’m using “Camera Remote” and it works perfectly. You can find it in Google’s Play Store.
This is an excellent app with no adds and it does not asks for permissions it shouldn’t. You can set up long duration shots and intervals (repeat).

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I strongly recommend you have a release cable for long exposure shots. If you can or are willing to try then build your own. Satisfaction will be guaranteed.
If you happen to have a smart phone with IR transmitter the obvious 1st choice is to install one of the multiple apps. And last but not least you can always buy the original release cable.

I must admit the IR choice of the smart phone is a no brainer best option. If you have any of recent Samsung Note 3, Note 4, S3, S4 or S5 then you’re lucky 🙂