A layman’s guide to camera remote controls

A layman's guide to camera remote controls

What is a remote controller for your camera and why is it useful for photographers? Find out in our latest layman’s guide…

A layman's guide to camera remote controls

What are camera remote controls?

The sturdiness of even a high-quality tripod can be compromised if you touch and jog the camera when taking a shot. A camera remote controller enables a more hands-off approach.

How do remote controllers work?

There are three main types of remote controllers for digital photography. The most basic relies on a cable connection, with a plug that slots into a socket on the camera.

For cameras with infrared receivers built into their bodies, small and fairly inexpensive infrared controllers are available.

These enable wireless connectivity, but you’ll need an uninterrupted line of sight between the transmitter and receiver, and the range is usually limited to around five metres.

Upmarket wireless remote controllers tend to feature RF (Radio Frequency) connectivity, often with a range of up to 100m.

Who makes camera remote controllers?

Each camera manufacturer makes a range of remote controllers that are suitable for its own cameras. On top of this, popular independent makers include Hähnel, Hama and Phottix. Another increasingly common option is a remote that enables you to control your camera via an iPhone or Android device, available from makers like ioShutter and Triggertrap.

A layman's guide to camera remote controls

When should I use a remote control for my camera?

It’s sensible to use a remote controller whenever your camera is mounted on a tripod, especially when you want to use shutter speeds that are fairly slow. For DSLRs, it’s also wise to use the mirror lockup function or exposure delay mode, to avoid the mirror unsettling the camera when it flips up just prior to an exposure.

Other popular uses of a remote controller are for wildlife and sports photography, where you may not be able to stay physically close to the camera but you still want to have control over your shots.

How do I attach a remote controller to my DSLR?

There’s usually no physical link for infrared remote controllers. RF devices will generally require a receiver unit to be connected to a camera, via the same socket that’s usually used for wired remote controllers.


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