Pentax & Canon DSLR cable shutter release from hands-free cell phone kit

terenceg posted this at 3:51 pm on Friday, March 23, 2007 —

Pentax DSLR cable shutter release from hands-free cell phone kit

I’m trying to get into HDR photography, which usually requires some very long exposure shots. The best way to do this is with a tripod and a shutter release. I got the tripod off Craigslist, but the shuuter release was too expensive for me, so I set off to make my own.

Step 1 – Materials & Tools

To keep this on the cheap, I kept it minimal. The most expensive item was the hands-free phone kit; on sale for $10. Check the comments. One was found at a dollar store. $1!

1x Hands-free cell phone kit IMPORTANT: The DSLRs take a 3/32″ stereo plug. See the picture for details.
2x Momentary buttons (two colors)
1x Mini micro switch
1x Enclosure, for me a wonderfully ironic 35mm film canister


  • Extra Wire
  • Tape
  • Tools:
    • Drill & bits
    • Soldering iron and solder
    • Wire stripping tools

Step 2 – Break open the mic

Be destructive, but gentle

You may not get the same model kit, so some experimentation is required. Inside the microphone box was a tiny circuit board hooked to 4 wires. I plugged in the kit to my camera for testing. Don’t worry, there’ s no current in these wires. I took my knife and shorted various combinations and observed the results. I found that two are ground wires, and the other two have functions:

Red: focus
White: shutter
Copper: ground
Blue: ground

By connecting the Red to a ground, the camera focused. Wonderful news.We will now make button to do this work for us.

Step 3- Solder up the connections

Using the diagram below from Roger Cline, Assemble and solder your buttons and switch. Test it often to avoid mistakes. When you’re done, protect from short circuits with some tape.

Step 4 – Make an enclosure

Here I used an empty 35mm film can from the girlfriend. I used the recycle symbol on the bottom to perfectly align my three controls and poked holes for drilling. Then using a similar bit to the one recommended on the button packaging, I drilled 3 holes.

Step 5 – Mount stuff

This may be the trickiest step. Maneuver the three controls toward their respective spots. A long pair of needle-nosed pliers help out a lot. Also, the switch has a little groove that the washer uses to stay straight. You’ll have to see it. It can be tricky. Tighten them all down and you’re set. Test again of course.

Step 6 – Test and troubleshoot

So this step is kind of unnecessary if your buttons work.But if they don’t work, don’t fret. Be very patient, take it apart, and test your soldering again. That’s always where it fails.

Also when you coil all the extra cable into the canister, use a bit of tape to keep the complicated end of your project inside the can.

Below is a picture of the shutter release in action!

by eagleapexon Mar 13, 2007

DIY Shutter Release for your Canon DSLR

by cline&company

Here is a very simple diagram for a DIY Shutter Release for your Canon DSLR. See Chris’s Link in the comments section for Pentax instructions.

What you’ll need.

(1) One – 3/32” Stereo Audio Plug (MUST BE STEREO, NOT MONO)
(2) One – Small Toggle Switch
(3) Two – Momentary Switches (SET TO OPEN)
(4) Wire – Small Gauge Insulated wire w/ at least 3 insulated wires within the main outer insulation. (I used 20’ basic telephone wire and only used 3 of the 4 wires in it.) (length depends on how long you would like your shutter release to reach.)
(5) Wire – Small gauge scrap wire, for wiring switches
(6) One – Project housing or Something to mount your switches on


The long end that comes out of the bottom of the Audio Plug is where your ground wire (black) needs to be soldered. This wire will go to each of your switches as shown in my diagram.

The audio plug will have 2 small areas for your last 2 wires. The area nearest the plug, is the area where the Auto Focus wire (green) will need to be soldered. The other end will go to one of your Momentary switches.

Next the small area next to the ground tab and below the auto focus area is where you’ll solder the Shutter Release wire (red). This wire will go to both the Toggle switch (blub lock/release) and also the last momentary switch(single release).

Lastly, attach all your switches to a small project housing and you are finished.

It is a pretty simple project and shouldn’t take more than 30 minutes from start to finish. I think I have about 8 bucks wrapped up in mine and it works like a dream.

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5,904 views - Filed under: Advanced,DigiSniper News,Tutorials

Home Made Flash Diffuser – With a Cigarette Packet!!

terenceg posted this at 5:22 pm on Monday, March 5, 2007 —

Cigarette Packet Flash Diffuser

Ever wanted to take indoor photos at night, but hate the washed out look which your built in flash creates? I’ve often been at a pub and found the regular flash to be a bit of a pain. Thanks to a little drunken curiosity and an attention span problem, I created a flash diffuser using only an empty cigarette packet.

step 1Equipment Needed

SLR with built in flash
Cigarette packet
pocket knife
This will not only provide you with the empty cigarette packet, but it will improve your health, make climbing stairs easier and probably save you enough money to buy a real external flash unit.if you don’t smoke, I’m sure your friendly neighbourhood chain smoker will provide you with an empty.
Remove the foil from inside the pack, taking care not to tear it. Once the foil is removed, reverse it so the shiny side is facing inwards. Then reinsert the reversed foil into the packet. This provide a reflective surface to bounce the light out of the box.Note: With some brands of cigarettes, you can skip this step as the foil is already facing shiny side in.
This one’s pretty obvious.Feel free to adjust the angle of the packet’s lid, to differ the angle of the flash spread. Also, experiment with position of the box. Reversing the box may also help.The more upright your flash unit is and the lower the ceiling is, the better the results.


Here is a before and after shot to demonstrate the difference. These shots were taken in a fairly dark place with relatively high ceilings.

I no way will this replace a $400 external flash unit, but it is improvment on what you already have using something that you can probably find on the floor the next time your at a pub.

more examples can be found at my flickr site.

Created by Dan and Andy

Before Diffuser After Diffuser

By monkeywithagunon Dec 6, 2006.

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23,391 views - Filed under: Equipment,Flash/Lighting,Tips,Tutorials

Photography Basics 2: What is ISO or ASA – Camera/Film Sensitivity AKA Filmspeed

ShaolinTiger posted this at 9:50 pm on Sunday, January 21, 2007 —

Introduction – ISO Basics

ISO or ASA in the most basic terms is the speed with which your film or digital camera responds to light, so the higher the ISO/ASA rating the more sensitive the film or CCD/CMOS sensor is to light.

In terms of film those with with lower sensitivity (lower ISO speed rating like 50 or 100) requires a longer exposure and is thus called a slow film, while stock with higher sensitivity (higher ISO speed rating such as 400 or 800) can shoot the same scene with a shorter exposure and is called a fast film.

The same holds true for digital camera, but you are adjusting the sensitivity of the CCD or CMOS not actually using different film, this is one of the beauties of digital cameras, you can change ISO on every shot if you wish, you don’t need different physical films!

The basic rule would be a higher ISO gives a higher shutter speed with the same Aperture settings, so less blur. The trade-off is that higher ISO also gives more noise or grain to your images, which can be a bad thing if it’s not a look you appreciate.

Slow shutter speed will give you pics like this:


Because you just can’t hold it steady enough!



Because your shutter speed isn’t fast enough to capture someone in motion!


ISO is the term generally used on Digital Cameras, the standard was ASA and in the later years ISO.

To get a bit more technical it was known as the ISO linear scale, which corresponds to the older ASA scale, doubling the speed of a film (that is, halving the amount of light that is necessary to expose the film) implies doubling the numeric value that designates the film speed so 50, 100, 200, 400, 800 and 1600.

Nikon digital ISO ratings tend to be exactly the same as the real film counterparts where as some others like Sony Alpha A-100 are slightly off, I think the Canon 350D was out too.

As for other manufacturers I’m not really sure.

For example with the Alpha:

The first column is the indicated sensitivity the second is the actual.

ISO 100 ISO 125
ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 400 ISO 500
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 1600 ISO 2000

And for the Canon 350D:

ISO 200 ISO 250
ISO 400 ISO 500
ISO 800 ISO 1000
ISO 1600 ISO 2000

Noise or Grain

Noise is what happens when you crank the ISO up, it’s because you are making the sensor more sensitive to light so you are also making it more sensitive to it’s flaws. The contrast, ISO and grain/noise are all linked.

speed rating sensitivity contrast grain
50 ISO/ASA low low low
100 ISO/ASA medium medium medium
200 ISO/ASA medium medium medium
400 ISO/ASA high high high
800 ISO/ASA very high very high very high

Visual Noise is what occurs on digital cameras where as Grain is what occurs on film, Grain tends to be a lot more pleasing than noise, especially in Black & White photography.

In terms of film, the ASA or file speed is roughly related to granularity, this is the size of the grains of silver halide in the emulsion, since larger grains give film a greater sensitivity to light. Fine-grain stock, such as portrait film or those used for the intermediate stages of copying original camera negatives, is “slow”, meaning that the amount of light used to expose it must be high or the shutter must be open longer. Fast films, used for shooting in poor light or for shooting fast motion, produce a grainy image.

In digital pictures the image noise is a random, usually unwanted, fluctuation of pixel values in an image. Image noise can originate in film grain or in electronic noise in the input device (scanner or digital camera) sensor and circuitry.

Noise in digital images looks like this:

Noisy Image

Now this looks ok in a small size, but if you blow it up the noise is very visible, here is a crop from the image:


Noise is also directly related to sensor size, so camera phones generally give terrible noise even under quite reasonable lighting conditions. Digital SLRs have much better noise performance than compact cameras and even better than that is full frame sensor Digital SLRs like the Canon 5D.

Also note noise tends to be more obvious in shadows or underexposed pictures, so do be careful when shooting.

We will discuss noise more in detail later, what causes it, what are the types of noise and how to combat it. There a few options for software based noise reduction, which again we will discuss later.

Interestingly the most sensitive sensor common in commercial photography may be the Silicon Intensified Target Vidicon, at ASA 200,000, used in TV cameras.

Rule of Thumb for ISO

The most basic rule is keep the ISO as low as possible at all times, especially on cameras like the Panasonic Lumix range and other super compacts with small sensors, keep the ISO at 50 or 100 even if you are shooting at night because the noise these cameras generate can be quite terrible.

When shooting in low light or darkness with a camera with decent light sensitivity (the best compacts on the market now for high ISO shooting are the Fuji cameras after that would come Canon), adjust the ISO up one setting until you get a clear shot.

You can check the sharpness of your shot by zooming in on the LCD.

You can check your camera manual or have a look around online to find out how you can change the ISO, most compact cameras have it inside a menu somewhere and are often using auto-ISO.

For example here is the Canon S3 IS ISO button and it’s usage.


Every digital SLR from medium range and above has a dedicated ISO button.

Be careful when you start shooting something that your ISO is set correctly as well, as the night before you may have been shooting at ISO800, if you keep shooting like that in daylight you will have a lot of overexposed pictures and unnecessary noise in all your shadows.

I’ve made this mistake before! I blame it on an oversight in the D70s user interface..

If it’s really dark and you are taking still scenery it’s always best to use a tripod and the lowest ISO possible.


Just think a little bit before you take your shot, don’t just keep shooting and hope for a lucky shot 🙂 Understand your camera and it’s limitations and learn to get the most out of it.

ISO is an important tool in getting us clear and sharp shots by getting the optimum shutter speed out of our camera for any given situation, but it’s also something that can cause a lot of noise and terrible artifacts.

These can ruin your picture if you aren’t careful.

So do learn to use ISO, just be wary of it’s effects as like most things it’s a double edged sword.

You can read more here:

Film Speed

If you need and clarifications please leave a comment below, do check out the previous article in the series on What is Aperture or f-stops/f number & Depth of Field and next to come is Shutter Speed!

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Quick And Dirty Mini Softbox

Lanatir posted this at 1:06 am on Friday, November 3, 2006 —

Here’s something easy to use as a mini softbox in case you need to shoot something small quickly.

Laptop Softbox

Laptop Softbox

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Photography Basics 1: What is Aperture or f-stops/f number & Depth of Field

ShaolinTiger posted this at 2:06 pm on Monday, October 16, 2006 —

Introduction – Aperture Basics

This is one of the fundemental parts of photography when you advance past a point and shoot, the biggest controls you have how your picture appears is Aperture and Shutter speed. Shutter speed is more obvious in that a slower shutter gives a longer exposure and more movement or motion blur, where as a faster shutter speed freezes action.

We will discuss creative ways to use shutter speed later.

For now we want to discuss Aperture, many people have a vague idea what it means, but don’t know which aperture or f-stop to select for different situations, or why you would chose that aperture.

To start an Aperture is basically a hole in which light is admitted, in terms of cameras the aperture of an optical system is the opening that determines the cone angle of a bundle of rays that come to a focus in the image plane.

You can read more about Aperture in depth here.

F-number or F-stop

The lens aperture is usually specified as an f-number, the ratio of focal length to effective aperture diameter. A lens typically has a set of marked “f-stops” that the f-number can be set to.

(f-number is also sometimes called focal ratio, f-ratio, or relative aperture)

The very basics you need to remember is a big number is a small hole, so f/22 is a very small aperture, small hole, less light so longer exposure. Something like f/1.8 is a very large aperture, more light and faster shutter speed (shorter exposure).


Here you can see a very common 50mm lens with it’s Aperture set at the smallest number f/1.8, remember that’s the largest opening in figure one.

Figure two shows the smallest aperture, or highest number which is f/22 for most lenses including this one.

Most cameras with some manual controls at least have something called Aperture Priority mode, which refers to a shooting mode used in semi-automatic cameras. It allows the photographer to choose an aperture setting and allow the camera to decide the correct shutter speed. This is sometimes referred to as Aperture Priority Auto Exposure, A mode, Av mode, or semi-auto mode.

This is the mode I most frequently shoot in as Aperture has the greatest effect on the picture you are taking.

The common f stops are as follows:


When you are buying lenses generally the bigger the maximum aperture the better, most professional zoom lenses have a constant f/2.8 aperture which makes them very expensive and heavy!

You can read more on F-number and the science behind it here.


Cheaper lenses usually have a variable aperture between f/3.5 and f/5.6. When a lens has 2 numbers for f-stops it means it varies as you zoom it, so if a lens is Nikon 18-70mm f/3.5-4.5G AF-S for example, it means at 18mm it’s f/3.5 and at 70mm it’s f/4.5.

Nikkor 18-70mm

Aperture greatly effects light gathering capabilties, so for low light or night work the lowest aperture possible is preferred, some lenses go as low as f/1.2 or f/1.4!

Prime lenses tend to have bigger maximum apertures as it’s cheaper to build with a fixed optic, prime lenses don’t zoom, the most common and cheapest is the 50mm f/1.8 which we’ll discuss more later.

Depth of Field

The most important thing to understand about Aperture is how it controls depth of field, this will directly effect your pictures and the artistic capability in which you can create the images you want.

Here is an example I took yesterday, Macro photography has a very small Depth of Field as the subject is very large in relation to the sensor in the camera.

Depth of Field is the amount of the picture that is in focus, the basic rule is the smaller the aperture, the more is in focus, so at f/1.8 the Depth of Field would be very very small and at f/22 everything would be in focus.

For this picture the Aperture was f/4.2, the largest the lens can manage during this macro focusing range.

Watch at f/4.2

Watch at f/4.2

As you can see not a lot is in focus, the focus point for all 3 is the bottom of the question mark, you can see here only just that is in focus the rest is not. The Depth of Field is small.

The shutter speed was 0.7 of a second.

The next was taken at a medium Aperture f/11 which is normally used for landscapes or large scenes.

Watch at f/11

Watch at f/11

As you can see more is in focus here, the picture is more aesthetically pleasing. The top of the watch is still out of focus and the background is nicely blurred but the subject is fully in focus and part of the watch.

The shutter speed was 4.2 seconds.

The next is at f/22 which is used for long shutter speeds and macro photography.

Watch at f/22

Watch at f/22

As you can see now virtually everything is in focus and the shutter speed was very long at 18 seconds.

So you can see as you increase the f-number the aperture hole gets smaller, more of the pictures is in focus and the shutter speed gets longer.

You can use this to control how the picture looks and small apertures are especially good for seperating the subject from the background.

Another example are flowers, these are two shots taken at f/5 and f/22, you should be able to work out which is which now.


Flowers 1

We’ll discuss more about DoF as it’s called later and more advanced ways to use it, plus the terms such as Bokeh which are commonly used now.

You can read more about Depth of Field here.


Aperture is the most powerful tool in taking the pictures you want, in creating artistic effects and interesting eye popping captures of animals, people and flowers.

Just don’t get carried away and use an aperture that is too large (small number), especially on portraits as you can have one eye in focus and one out, or can create confusing pictures that look completely out of focus.

Choose the correct aperture to give the background a nice blur and make the subject stand out.

It will take some practise and you will have to learn each lens, also note most lenses are not super sharp wide open, wide open means the maximum aperture (the smallest number) so stop it down 1-2 f-stops.

So for a f/1.8 lens it should be sharp around f/2.2 and above.

As a rule of thumb for portraits you can use the maximum aperture stopped down 1-2 stops, for group shots try around f/5.6 and for landscapes try f/11-16.

If you need and clarifications please leave a comment below, next to come is What is ISO or ASA – Camera/Film Sensitivity AKA Filmspeed!

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39,395 views - Filed under: Basics,Tutorials