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What is a Cable Release?

By Ken Black
Updated May 17, 2024
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In photography, a cable release is a metal cable or wire that is attached to a camera's shutter button on one end. On the other end is a trigger that, when pressed, will activate the camera's shutter button and take a photo. This has a number of advantages over more traditional ways to obtain a snapshot.

Many may desire a cable release in a situation where the photographer wants to be in the photo as well. With a cable of sufficient length, the photographer can insert himself in the photo, making sure it is framed properly, then activate the shutter. To accomplish this, a stable surface on which to set the camera is also needed.

In some cases, a cable release may be operated remotely. Once the switch is depressed, it sends a signal wirelessly that can then cause the shutter to release. This provides even a greater amount of freedom, allowing greater distances between the photographer and camera to be realized. Further, the photographer does not have to worry about concealing any wires.

Some photographers may choose to utilize a cable release whether they are going to be in the photograph or not. This is due to the fact that pressing the shutter release with a finger can cause a slight shaking even from the steadiest of hands. A cable release takes this camera shake out of the equation.

Most of the time a photographer will use a cable release with other helpful camera tools. One of the most common pieces of equipment to use along with cable releases are tripods. These tools can allow a camera to be put nearly anywhere and will help the camera maintain a very stable foundation.

Those looking at buying a cable release should realize that they are not all compatible with every model of camera. Some cable releases are specifically designed for a specific model of camera. Others are designed to be used with a wide variety of models. One of the telltale signs that a camera is designed for use with a cable release is if the shutter button has a threaded hole. Most SLR cameras will come with this feature.

Cable releases are often very inexpensive and well worth the investment for anyone looking at doing any serious photography work. A standard cable release can cost less than $10 US Dollars (USD). Those which can be operated wirelessly start at approximately $30 USD.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
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