Tuesday, December 16, 2008
January/February 2009: Helpline
I purchased a used 7-megapixel compact camera just to photograph things I was going to sell. It works great, mostly. So, I’m at my dad’s, and he subscribes to PCPhoto. Just sitting down and reading a bit made me think that I might be able to do more with my camera. Beyond my eBay pictures, I’m now starting to use it for regular pictures.
Digital cameras work differently. With digital cameras, the shutter release button is more electronic than mechanical. While mechanical movement is still involved—the rest of the connections are electronic. Why does this matter? Well if you try your “drill-a-hole” solution, you’d find that there’s little to no support for the cable release.
This may be out of your realm, but before I try to take the camera apart myself, or try to find someone to send it to, is it possible, to get to the trip button, to drill a hole and tap it so it would take a remote cable? Before you suggest I get a new camera—I live on Social Security so, as much as I have drooled on your magazine over the new cameras, they are way out of my reach.
Via the Internet
Without sounding too much like a child of the 70s, I have to say that this is a far-out question! But I think it’s a good question that will allow me to talk about some concepts to help you and others who may be frustrated with how shutter release buttons work.
First, let me address the possibility of modifying the camera. Next month, I’ll present some other possible solutions.
The idea of drilling a hole and using a remote cable sounds like a solution from the days when cameras were primarily mechanical devices rather than electronic devices. When pressed, the shutter release button would engage another mechanical part in the camera, which would engage another mechanical part, and so on. Think “ankle bone is connected the shin bone.”
The shutter release button on a film camera often had a threaded hole that allowed you to attach a cable release. The cable release was a hollow flexible cable with a button on the end. When you pressed the button, a metal or plastic wire inside the cable was pushed out the end of the cable to engage the shutter.
Why does this matter? Well if you try your “drill-a-hole” solution, you’d find that there’s little to no support for the cable release. Instead, you’d have to build a structure on top of the camera that can withstand the strain the cable release would put on the relatively delicate shutter release button.
Next month, I’ll offer up some other solutions to your problem, and they won’t require power tools.
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