If you forgot your cable release but don’t want to induce vibration with your finger tripping the shutter, use your camera’s self timer.

This post sponsored by Lensbabies.

Join the conversation! 35 Comments

  1. great post, I cannot believe the amount of people that never think of this. Also handy if you have a remote and the battery dies.

  2. I do this all the time. I find a 2 sec delay works just fine. I have a custom menu setup so the delay time is readily available so I can switch between 2, 5, and 10 seconds depending on the purpose.

  3. That’s another one of my “poor-man photography tools”. I used it all the time before I got my cable release. I could do a whole podcast episode on “poor-man photography tools”; maybe you guys could do that :)

  4. @ Jason: A guy I know (a friend of a friend, so I’m not going to say “a friend of mine”) Glenn Bartley did a few of these. A student, and part time nature/wildlife photographer he had to “Macguyver” a few things himself. In fact; I think he’d be a great guest on the show! Where’s Scott’s E-mail…

    http://www.glennbartley.com/articles.htm

  5. Excellent idea Jason, I think a whole episode on some “guerrilla” approaches would be fantastic!

  6. I have also used the timer with my monopod. I set the exposure/focus, click the shutter and lift the camera/monopod over my head, holding the bottom of the monopod. I can get some great shots without a ladder. This does take some trail and many errors.

  7. That topic would definitely catch a LOT of visibility “Photography Guerrilla Tactics”! I’d lo9ve to hear other field techniques like that myself. One I actually used was an empty toilet paper roll as a snoot. It wasn’t pretty, but got the shot done.

  8. I can’t believe this is a serious tip. On the other hand, I would not be surprised to find out that lots of people haven’t thought of using the timer instead. I am cheap and won’t cough up for a $100 remote electronic shutter release. So I’ve been using my cameras’ timers for years.

  9. @Photo-John – what? You think I’m kidding?

  10. The remote for the Nikon D50 was $13 through Amazon – love it, but before that I would use the timer.

  11. What is this “cable release” of which you speak?
    ;)

    I, too, have “just not gotten around” to buying a cable release….because this method has done the job so far.

  12. What is this “cable release” of which you speak?
    ;)

    I, too, have “just not gotten around” to buying a cable release….because this method has done the job so far.

  13. I have used my Nikon cable release, remote trigger with digital display and interval timer, and other remote triggers to do the trick. Love them all. So what, its a couple of $100. Big deal. Come on people, you drop $1000-$4000 for a DSLR body and you don’t want to spend $50 to $100 for a remote trigger. Wait till you start deciding on 2.8 or faster glass. If you want to dance, you gotta pay for the music.

  14. I have used my Nikon cable release, remote trigger with digital display and interval timer, and other remote triggers to do the trick. Love them all. So what, its a couple of $100. Big deal. Come on people, you drop $1000-$4000 for a DSLR body and you don’t want to spend $50 to $100 for a remote trigger. Wait till you start deciding on 2.8 or faster glass. If you want to dance, you gotta pay for the music.

  15. @Dennis Well, for me that’s $100 toward another (read that as “faster”) lens. And, frankly, I’ve never spent “$1000-$4000 for a DSLR body”. The bulk of my investment has been into glass.

  16. @Dennis Well, for me that’s $100 toward another (read that as “faster”) lens. And, frankly, I’ve never spent “$1000-$4000 for a DSLR body”. The bulk of my investment has been into glass.

  17. @Dennis I agree with you however I needed both hands on my monopod for this shot of the iPhone line.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/53004563@N00/2701427666/

  18. @ Bryant Johnson I have spent on average $3K for each of my bodies (D100 ,D200, D300, and now D700). Going to pick that up now with the SB-900. Glass is besides the point.

  19. @ Bryant Johnson I have spent on average $3K for each of my bodies (D100 ,D200, D300, and now D700). Going to pick that up now with the SB-900. Glass is besides the point.

  20. @Dennis Well, I guess you put me in my place. Good show there…. You seem to be parted with your money rather quickly. My condolences…

  21. @Dennis Well, I guess you put me in my place. Good show there…. You seem to be parted with your money rather quickly. My condolences…

  22. For those penny pinchers out there get several of the ebay electronic knockoff remotes, I got mine for $0.01+shipping, if you get a seller that will combine shipping you can grab several of them for a penny each so if they go out you will have one or maybe even 4 backups. I used to use the timer, but when you have to shoot 300-400 photos per shoot, along with a lot of HDR, the remote will save you much time vs the timer, and if you are doing an HDR shot where the lighting, clouds, or onditions are changing the timer just isn’t fast enough.

  23. For those penny pinchers out there get several of the ebay electronic knockoff remotes, I got mine for $0.01+shipping, if you get a seller that will combine shipping you can grab several of them for a penny each so if they go out you will have one or maybe even 4 backups. I used to use the timer, but when you have to shoot 300-400 photos per shoot, along with a lot of HDR, the remote will save you much time vs the timer, and if you are doing an HDR shot where the lighting, clouds, or onditions are changing the timer just isn’t fast enough.

  24. @Bryant If you can do it, then why not. What I do with my money is my decision. If I want to drop $5K on a D3 body instead of feeding some family in Africa, so be it.

  25. @Dennis My point is that I feel sorry for you (and your clients) if you really feel that glass quality is “beside the point”. Sure, having a the latest-greatest body is nice, but without good optics it will never reach its potential.

    If you have the disposable income for both top-line body and top-line glass, wonderful. Most people do not. For most people there’s a choice involved in setting the priority of whether to put their hard-earned money into the body or the glass. I’m glad for you that you don’t have to make such decision.

    I agree with you here–>”If you can do it, then why not.” The point is that not everyone can drop $5K…or $3K…or even $1K at the drop of a hat. For most of us, that is a very large purchase and that means choosing to forego a few $100 purchases to save up (again, I’m glad you don’t have to worry about such things) for the more important things.

  26. @Dennis My point is that I feel sorry for you (and your clients) if you really feel that glass quality is “beside the point”. Sure, having a the latest-greatest body is nice, but without good optics it will never reach its potential.

    If you have the disposable income for both top-line body and top-line glass, wonderful. Most people do not. For most people there’s a choice involved in setting the priority of whether to put their hard-earned money into the body or the glass. I’m glad for you that you don’t have to make such decision.

    I agree with you here–>”If you can do it, then why not.” The point is that not everyone can drop $5K…or $3K…or even $1K at the drop of a hat. For most of us, that is a very large purchase and that means choosing to forego a few $100 purchases to save up (again, I’m glad you don’t have to worry about such things) for the more important things.

  27. Wow – I am not the only one getting yelled at for having nice gear :)

    @Bryant I think you might be missing Dennis’ point about the glass. I happen to know he has some very nice glass. I didn’t read his post as saying he didn’t think you need good optics.

    Okay guys this has gone on long enough. Everyone has made their position clear. Let’s keep it friendly and move on.

  28. Wow – I am not the only one getting yelled at for having nice gear :)

    @Bryant I think you might be missing Dennis’ point about the glass. I happen to know he has some very nice glass. I didn’t read his post as saying he didn’t think you need good optics.

    Okay guys this has gone on long enough. Everyone has made their position clear. Let’s keep it friendly and move on.

  29. Scott – I don’t think Photo-John was suggesting you were kidding. I think he was just astonished that anyone wouldn’t “just do” it – use the timer as a replacement for a cable/remote release, as it seems obvious. Like “Press the shutter button to take a picture” obvious. But I get it – and there’s another good reason to use the self-timer with many bodies. My K20D locks up the mirror when the timer starts, but with a cable/remote release it does not. Do the other manufacturer’s bodies do that too?

  30. Scott – I don’t think Photo-John was suggesting you were kidding. I think he was just astonished that anyone wouldn’t “just do” it – use the timer as a replacement for a cable/remote release, as it seems obvious. Like “Press the shutter button to take a picture” obvious. But I get it – and there’s another good reason to use the self-timer with many bodies. My K20D locks up the mirror when the timer starts, but with a cable/remote release it does not. Do the other manufacturer’s bodies do that too?

  31. @Steve if you saw the hundreds of questions I get each month asking for the most BASIC information you wouldn’t be astonished. Doing this show has taught me that there are lots of people hungry for basic info and in most places, they get treated like idiots simply because they are unaware of things that most people know. But those who know had to learn somewhere and accordingly, I try to cover basic tips once in a while. Nobody should be made to feel stupid just because they don’t have the information. Now once you have the information and don’t use it, that’s another story :)

    Not all bodies lock up the mirror when the timer starts but they should.

  32. @Scott I agree. My point exactly. Let’s move on. Time for a photowalk to play with the new D700 and 2.8 glass.

  33. @Scott I agree. My point exactly. Let’s move on. Time for a photowalk to play with the new D700 and 2.8 glass.

  34. You would be surprised at how much I didn’t know when I didn’t know it.

    This came to me as a tip from a fellow photog in a botanical park when I was fighting what I thought was a bad remote issue, I was so focused on making the remote work, I hadn’t thought of a work around fix. When he told me I slapped my forehead and thanked him for taking the time. I think the Show and tips are great. Leave no one behind.

  35. You would be surprised at how much I didn’t know when I didn’t know it.

    This came to me as a tip from a fellow photog in a botanical park when I was fighting what I thought was a bad remote issue, I was so focused on making the remote work, I hadn’t thought of a work around fix. When he told me I slapped my forehead and thanked him for taking the time. I think the Show and tips are great. Leave no one behind.

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About scottbourne

Founder of Photofocus.com. Retired traveling and unhooking from the Internet.

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