Remote Shutter Release Lets You Be A Hipster From A Distance

camera shutter

So, you’re taking high resolution photos with your ancient medium format film camera — but you can’t be at the camera. Well, if you’re [curlyfry562] you build your own remote controlled mechanical shutter release!

Due to the age of the film camera, there really aren’t many (or… any?) off the shelf solutions to this problem. Especially not with the list of project goals [curlyfry562] came up with:

  • It must be triggered by a remote TTL signal
  • The wireless range must be at least 100ft
  • It has to be reliable — medium format film is expensive!
  • It needs to be easily mountable and removable

With his goals clearly set, he began work. He’s using 2.4GHz xBee modems which have a DIO pin — if you link up two for DIO line passing, then they act as clones of each other — change the state of one, and the other one follows. Using this he’s wired up the output to a microcontroller, which than powers a servo to depress the mechanical shutter release. It’s actually quite brilliantly simple.

If you don’t need quite as much range — check out this remote shutter release made from a wireless doorbell!

[Thanks Daniel!]

19 thoughts on “Remote Shutter Release Lets You Be A Hipster From A Distance

  1. Does it count as ‘hipster’ if you never stopped using a medium format film camera?

    Though that may end soon, seeing as how I’m running low on local film developers, and mailing them out is cost prohibitive.

    Any hacks on making modern cameras fully manual/compatible using a pentax K mount?

    1. Have you tried looking for Tamron Adaptall/Adaptall II lenses? The mounts are interchangeable and a K mount can be had cheap (the lenses too). This is, of course, if you are referring to lenses and not cameras. I suppose you’d have to clarify..

      1. Ah, my first and only SLR has always been a Pentax k1000

        All I want in a camera is complete control over focus, exposure and zoom, and that camera does all I want, and nothing more. And I love the controls. I would like to switch to Digital, but I’m too poor to start buying new lenses, as well as a camera. And trying to find one that let’s me shoot the way I want is tougher than I imagined! ( I DO have a small digi pocket camera, but that’s mostly for photos while I’m taking things apart.)

    2. The easiest way to use a manual Pentax K mount on a modern DSLR is to buy a Pentax K5. It’s comparable to the crop sensor DSLRs from Canon and Nikon, plus it’s water resistant.
      It can use any K mount lens ever made, and even the older screw mount lenses with a cheap adapter.

      1. Thanks, I’ll check that out. I had tried the *ist DS and was disappointed. My budget doesn’t let me grab new cameras that often, but maybe I can snag a fixer upper.

  2. “It has to be reliable — medium format film is expensive!”
    Really? $25.00 for 3 rolls is expensive? $10.00 a roll for developing with 4″ print proofs.

    medium format film is cheap and considering that it’s a 40 megapixel equilivant image it’s dirt cheap compared to the price of any 40 megapixel DSLR you can buy.

    1. start developing it yourself and the price goes down drastically, and it really is not difficult. However getting that film into digital format will cost you if you want it to look nice. I currently use a nikon 9000 ED when i have to. Then there is the added cost of silverfast if you want to keep up to date with scanning software as well. Granted cheaper than a medium format digital camera but not exactly something you go down to wal-mart and pick up.

      back to the post nice little hack.

  3. A long time ago I decided to build a remote-controlled shutter. I had the brilliant idea of simply buying a cheap RC car, dismantle it and use just the transmitter and receiver. I found a signal I could use, filtered it a bit, added a TTL inverter and an LED and I was in business! Worked great! At least, inside my house.

    I took it outside, crossed the street, installed the camera on a tripod, hooked-up the receiver and walked back to my flat’s entrance. I waited for a couple of cars to pass by and then a cop car rolled past. I could see the LED from right across the street blink like crazy. And of course a bunch of traffic flew by, preventing me from crossing the street again to reach and stop the camera.

    The whole roll of film had been shot. 36 frames.

    Lesson learned: Cop radios are pretty strong transmitters and will induce interference even at 27Mhz.

    Anyway, I still used the gadget for nature shots, away from cops.

  4. Why does it take a microcontroller? A hipster thing to do? Why not just flick a solenoid with that DIO pin (through a mosfet or a relay)? Shutter release travel is quite small.

      1. And a servo wouldn’t? Only a proper experiment would tell the difference.
        For a medium format you need a big and steady tripod anyway. In addition in many medium formats the shutter release connector is on the front of the camera, that is parallel to lens optical axis (vs. orthogonal as in the pentax in the picture) this greatly reduces the effect of the shake.

  5. I wish this (calling everything) hipster fad goes away quickly. Then we can all resume to enjoy utilizing and learning about old techniques and technology without some asshat labeling it for his/her own small-world-form-factor convenience.

    Nice hack BTW.

    1. The issue is not the word “hipster”. It’s people using certain (impractical) things, like medium format film cameras, not because this technology is better, but just so that people will notice them. You can stop calling them hipsters, but then we’d have to invent another word for the same thing.

      1. I agree the issue is not the word, but the small mindsets of people who need to vocally make terribly flawed and shallow observations.

        Why would we “need” any word for a definition that, as black and white as it’s stated, has no relevance to the real world?

        Can’t we just be sensible and agree that regardless of it involving old stuff or new stuff, people sometimes use various stuff to get noticed? Let’s call these people “People who use and do all sorts of stuff to get noticed”. Let’s subsequently agree that any person who feels inclined to label that very distinct human set of behaviors as anything, is entitled to a slue of equally disjointed labels themselves. All this to finally agree to keep technology and/or art itself, old or new, out of discussions where people might have a genuine and valid interest in stuff…

        How about that?

  6. Hey this is curlyfry562. I didn’t realize until today that Hack a day had picked this up, thanks for the nod James.

    I don’t know about hipster, although I guess it looks the part. For me this was the most economical way to take a low volume of high resolution photos, generally no more than about 10 rolls per year. When you are taking that few photos a $250 film camera just wins out over any of the wildly expensive digital alternatives. Medium format film and developing is inexpensive, but high resolution scanning is what drives the costs, I pay at a minimum $15 per role for 4824 x 3533 scans.

    I did the servo vs. solenoid trade and have built rigs that use both I definitely prefer servos, they are lighter, consume less power, are easier to mount, easier to procure, cheaper, and provide much greater flexibility in development. The one downside to servo’s is yes they require some sort of controller for send the PWM output, but as long as I can keep getting packaged AtTiny’s from Adafruit (What they call a “Trinket”) for $8 I will continue to use servo’s for applications like this.

    As for camera shake, there is none. For my application I am always operating the Pentax at 1/500 or 1/1000 of a sec. and am likely getting much more camera shake from the huge mirror on the camera which I can not lock up that I am from the remote release mechanism.

    Thanks for the feedback and let me know if you have any questions about the build.

    Also, I do not ride a fixie, wear tight blue jeans, or listen to obscure bands that you likely have not heard of :-)



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