16
May
2013

Remote Shutter Control for X Series Cameras

by Rico Pfirstinger

Talk to Rico (questions & feedback)Rico’s Flickr photosteam

Releasing the shutter of your camera remotely can have several advantages. For once, not touching the camera reduces shake and vibrations, which is especially important at slow shutter speeds. Mounting the camera on a tripod is only half of the solution. Yes, you can use the camera’s self-timer function for hands-free operation, but it’s hard (if not impossible) to catch decisive moments with this method.

Other applications of remote shutter release devices are placing the camera at hard to reach locations or producing a series of well-timed shots for time-lapse or HDR photography. Advanced timing solutions incorporate wireless operation (infrared, radio-controlled, Bluetooth or WLAN), and they can be triggered by certain GPS coordinates or position changes (like taking a shot every 50 meters while moving in a car), by a person stepping in front of the camera (recognizing faces or movement) or by rather exotic stuff like changes in the magnetic field.

Sadly, Fujifilm doesn’t offer a common remote triggering interface in its X series: With the XF1, there’s no option to externally trigger the shutter at all, so all you can do is using the self-timer. The X10, X20, X100, X100S, X-Pro1 and X-E1 offer classic threads for manual screw-in cable releases. The X-S1 and X-E1 feature an option to electronically release the shutter through the so-called RR-80 port (which hides in the Mini-USB port of these cameras, using pins number 4 and 5), and in addition to that, the X-E1 allows the microphone input socket to moonlight as a remote trigger input that is compatible with a substantial range of camera makes and models, offering a large number of options of remote triggering devices that can be used in concert with this camera.

Classic Mechanical Cable Release

Cable releases can perform the same three basic functions as your camera’s shutter button:

  • half-pressing the shutter to establish/lock focus and exposure
  • fully depressing the shutter to take the shot
  • keeping the shutter depressed (and locked) for an extended period of time to take long-time exposures (bulb mode)

Cable releases come in several forms and usually don’t cost much. There’s no need to get a fancy model (unless you like fancy stuff), just make sure it operates smoothly.

As mentioned earlier, cable releases are compatible with the X10, X20, X100, X100S, X-Pro1 and X-E1.

RR-80 Electronic Release

Just because its interface is electronic doesn’t mean that connecting an RR-80 based remote shutter release adds additional functionality beyond  a mechanical cable release. An electronic RR-80 trigger will merely perform the very same three functions:

  • half-pressing the shutter to establish/lock focus and exposure
  • fully depressing the shutter to take the shot
  • keeping the shutter depressed (and locked) for an extended period of time to take long-time exposures (bulb mode)

Beyond that, there’s no communication going on between the camera and the remote: The remote isn’t aware of any camera settings, and the camera isn’t aware what’s set on the remote. Here’s an example of a simple electronic RR-80 trigger that’s available as an accessory from Fujifilm:

There are several RR-80 compatible “no-name” options available, with some of them offering wireless operation or sophisticated interval timers. Here’s an example of an intervalometer…

…and here’s a pretty basic but functional radio-controlled remote trigger:

While an intervalometer is useful for time-lapse photography, a radio trigger will allow you to place the camera at difficult-to-reach or dangerous locations, like on a car or on a pole.

RR-80 devices work with the Fujifilm X-S1 and X-E1. Since RR-80 is an analog hardware option using two Mini-USB ports (but is not transmitting any digital data to the camera processor via USB protocols), there’s no way the X10, X20, X100, X100S or X-Pro1 could become RR-80 compatible through a firmware update. This isn’t a software issue, those cameras are lacking RR-80 compatible wiring to electronically trigger the shutter from the outside.

Microphone Input Port Triggering

RR-80 is a pretty much Fujifilm-specific (and hence rather “exotic”) interface, but the internal microphone port trigger of the X-E1 is not. In fact, this port and its triggering protocol are compatible with a broad range of cameras, including the Canon Digital Rebel, Canon EOS 1000D, Canon EOS 100D, Canon EOS 1100D, Canon EOS 300D, Canon EOS 350D, Canon EOS 400D, Canon EOS 450D, Canon EOS 500D, Canon EOS 550D, Canon EOS 600D, Canon EOS 60D, Canon EOS 60Da, Canon EOS 650D, Canon EOS 700D, Canon Kiss Digital, Canon Kiss F Digital, Canon Kiss N, Canon Kiss X2, Canon Kiss X3, Canon Kiss X4, Canon Kiss X5, Canon Kiss X50, Canon Kiss X6, Canon PowerShot G1 X, Canon PowerShot G10, Canon PowerShot G11, Canon PowerShot G12, Canon PowerShot G15, Canon PowerShot SX50 HS, Canon Rebel SL1, Canon Rebel T1i, Canon Rebel T2i, Canon Rebel T3, Canon Rebel T3i, Canon Rebel T4i, Canon Rebel XS, Canon Rebel XSi, Canon Rebel XT, Canon Rebel XTi, Canon Revel T5i, Contax 645, Contax N, Contax N Digital, Contax N1, Contax NX, Hasselblad H, Hasselblad H3D, Hasselblad H4D-200MS, Hasselblad H4D-31, Hasselblad H4D-40, Hasselblad H4D-50, Hasselblad H4D-50MS, Hasselblad H4D-60, Pentax 645D, Pentax ist D, Pentax ist DL, Pentax ist DL2, Pentax ist DS, Pentax ist DS2, Pentax K-30, Pentax K-5, Pentax K-7, Pentax K-m,Pentax K10 Grand Prix, Pentax K100D, Pentax K100D Super, Pentax K10D, Pentax K110D, Pentax K200D, Pentax K20D, Pentax MZ-6, Pentax MZ-L, Pentax ZX-L, Samsung GX-1L, Samsung GX-1S, Samsung GX-20, Samsung NX-10, Samsung NX-100, Samsung NX-11, Samsung NX-5, Sigma SD1, Sigma SD1 Merrill and Sigma SD15. Whoa!

A triggering device that is compatible with any of these cameras is also supposed to trigger your X-E1, so you can choose from a large number of triggering options, one of them being the ingenious Triggertrap software for iOS and Android devices. In connection with a suitable hardware dongle and cable kit, it will trigger your X-E1 electronically via the camera’s external microphone input, which is located at the left side of the chassis.

This is how the Triggertrap dongle and cable look like:

If you already use an iPhone and are looking for a sophisticated and yet affordable triggering solution with a friendly user interface, you may want to consider Triggertrap. The app itself is free, so you can check-it out before buying the hardware interface. The following triggering modes and functions are available:

  • Timelapse Mode
  • TimeWarp™ Mode
  • Sound sensor Mode
  • Shock & Vibration sensor Mode
  • Metal & magnetism sensor Mode
  • Facial recognition Mode
  • LE HDR Mode
  • LE HDR Timelapse Mode
  • DistanceLapse™ Mode
  • Motion detection Mode
  • Cable Release Mode
  • Star trail Mode
  • Bulb Ramping Timelapse
  • Wi-Fi Slave Mode
  • Wi-Fi Master Mode (trigger other devices running Triggertrap Mobile)
  • Sunset & Sunrise Calculator
  • Lag-o-Meter

If you want to know more about these modes and how they work, I recommend reading the help displays in the free Triggertrap app or having a look at the online PDF manual.

But make no mistake: As sophisticated as it looks, the interface between Triggertrap and the camera is as “dumb” and simple as any mechanical cable release or an RR-80 trigger. There’s no digital communication going on between the camera and Triggertrap, so Triggertrap doesn’t know about any camera settings (and can’t change them, either), and the camera doesn’t know about Triggertrap. This means Triggertrap can merely trigger the shutter with these three familiar functions:

  • half-pressing the shutter to establish/lock focus and exposure
  • fully depressing the shutter to take the shot
  • keeping the shutter depressed (and locked) for an extended period of time to take long-time exposures (bulb mode)

However, Triggertrap offers plenty of options to control when, where, why and how often to release (and hold) the shutter, and it features wireless operation via a Bluetooth device or via a second iOS device (iPhone) and WLAN. The sheer number of options may be overkill for many users, but who says you have to use them all?

For your convenience, here’s a TOC with links to my previous X-PERT CORNER articles:

Rico Pfirstinger studied communications and has been working as journalist, publicist, and photographer since the mid-80s. He has written a number of books on topics as diverse as Adobe PageMaker and sled dogs, and produced a beautiful book of photographs titled Huskies in Action (German version). He has spent time working as the head of a department with the German Burda-Publishing Company and served as chief editor for a winter sports website. After eight years as a freelance film critic and entertainment writer in Los Angeles, Rico now lives in Germany and devotes his time to digital photography and compact camera systems. His book “Mastering the FUJIFILM X-Pro1” (Kindle Edition) (Apple iBook Store) (German version) is available on Amazon and offers a plethora of tips, secrets and background information on successfully using Fuji’s X-Pro1 and X-E1 system cameras, lenses and key accessories.

  • Valerio

    Are we sure that new X100S doesn’t have the same USB port as X-E1?

    • klehmann

      Hi Valerio,

      I contacted FujiFilm Japan in early April regarding this specific issue and according to the engineers there the USB-port of the X100S is NOT internally connected and thus cannot be ‘fixed’ with a simple firmwareupdate – hence only a simple mechanical trigger release is usable. The reason I asked was that back then according to dpreview first X100S’ specsheet it was indeed possible with an electrial release through USB such as ie RR-80 for X-E1 – but either theiy were misinformed or it was a simple typo;o)

      Best
      klehmann

      • Valerio

        Thanks

      • MuMinded

        Thanks for the good info.

        What Fuji film could do now, to any of it’s current X camera’s by a Firmware update, is to create a menu driven intervalometer option that would at least give that functionality to the X-Series. My Nikon D300 has a very comprehensive intervelometer menu and I have used it to extent creating time lapse photography.

        I have very low hope of this happening however because this would not just be modifying a current feature of the camera but adding a whole new “skill set” to the camera… something even Fujifilm with it’s excellent track record of firmware updates would shy away from.

        Love these Xpert Corner articles!
        MuMinded

        • http://www.fujixspot.com/f34/ Rico Pfirstinger

          Yes, that would be reasonable and doable. At least with the X-E1 and X-S1, this is now already easy to accomplish with external controls.

  • http://Blackbrook.eu Andy

    Most useful, Many thanks

  • Tv

    Great over view. I am very grateful that you are doing these xpert corners. You must have read my mind as I haven wondering about remote release for the xp1 & xe1. Any thoughts on wireless triggers?

  • MacHilly

    Hallo Rico, mein Englisch ist nicht ganz so gut,
    Kann man den Triggertrap an der EX 1 nutzen, und mit welchen Kabel bzw. Dongle.

    Danke, MacHilly

  • http://www.pnetzer.de Philipp

    Take a look at this: http://tempusall.bymac.org/

  • http://northbound.gl Mads Pihl

    Great post – love all the options popping up here.

    I am using the Vello Freewave radio trigger for both my Canons and Fuji X-E1. Works great, is cheap, and I love being able to switch between connection types/cameras on the same system.

    Just thought I’d add that to the collection above.

    http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/749989-REG/Vello_RW_C1_FreeWave_Wireless_Remote_Shutter.html

  • Tom

    Thanks for the tip. I just tried connecting a Hahnel Pro Remote Control, I previously used with a Pentax K-5, via the microphone/remote release socket of my X-E1 and it worked perfectly.

  • Paul

    I am contemplating the Hahnel Inspire Wireless LCD with remote LiveView for operating with
    the XE-1. They make two versions (for Canon and Nikon).

    http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm?page=dslrremotecontrols&id=65&pId=65

    I contacted Hahnel directly to ask whether the Inspire (Canon version) is compatible with the
    XE-1. Since they have not tested against the Fujifilm, they could not verify one way or
    the other.

    If anyone has direct experience with the Inspire triggering full or partial features on the XE-1,
    I’d be most interested.

    • http://deleted Calking

      This product shows as discontinued by hahnel now.

  • AlbertInFrance

    There is a solution (or ‘lash-up’, to put it technically) that would work for the XF1. It’s a standard cable release with a special strap-on socket.

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hama-Cable-Release-Digital-Cameras/dp/B000CDGWDE/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1368831337&sr=8-1&keywords=cable+release+for+digital+cameras

  • philippe

    A trigger that will work on a Canon G11, among others, will also work on a x-e1, it has for me :)

  • Eric Clayton

    Hi everyone,
    I have an Hahnel Combi TF which I used to remotely trigger the shutter on a Pentax K-7. When I purchased a Fuji X-E1 I tried this remote. It fired a remote flash perfectly, but I have been unable to get it to work triggering the shutter. Has anyone been successful with this combination. Any advice gratefully received. Thanks
    Eric

  • Crossfoto

    I am able trigger the XE1 with a Pocket Wizard Plus 111 into a stereo mini to sub stereo mini cord. Oddly, it won’t trigger with the Pocket Wizard Plus 11s.

  • solidgold

    My Canon remote trigger and Flash guns work fine on my X E1.

  • Jerome

    Hi,

    Does any one have heard that about triggering the X-E1 with the iPhone earbuds volume remote ? ( => see link : http://www.fujix-forum.com/index.php/topic/12991-iphone-earbuds-as-remote-shutter-release/ )

    Also I tried with an adapter 4 pole 2,5mm to 3,5mm but it does not work. However I should have probably bought a 3 pole adapter… all the picture above on this website shows 3 poles plugs. Any thought ?

  • Matt

    pretty poor on fuji’s part to have such a glaring omission on a “PRO” camera

  • chadwithuhc

    So, this post is utterly confusing with all the options. Is it possible to get a remote for my X-Pro1?

  • Bexy

    Will Fuji RR-80 Remote work on an XE2 with an adapter?