DIY Shutter Release Cable for the X-T1

10 June 2015

In the past few days I put my brand new Fujifilm X-T1 to the test with long exposure landscapes, I bought an adaptor ring to use the Lee Big Stopper on the Samyang 12mm f/2 CS lens, put the camera on my trusty Manfrotto BeFree tripod, and did some photos at sunset. All good aside from one tiny, very annoying, issue. I’m stuck at maximum 30 seconds exposure, as the camera without a shutter release cable can go further than that, and to be honest I don’t know a single digital camera that allows you more than 30  seconds without the bulb mode.
The Fuijfilm iPhone apps works fine, but it has the same issue, you can’t go further than those 30 seconds.
I had a threaded cable, the one you screw in the button, which I used a couple of times on the X-E1, but the shutter button of the X-T1 doesn’t allow to use it.
I have a wireless remote trigger, but it’s for Canon and obviously you cannot connect it to the Fuji.
I’ve ordered a cheap remote on ebay from China, but if I’m lucky I’ll get it in a couple of weeks.
So the only solution is DIY, and to make an homemade, freshly baked, shutter release cable is easier than you think.

The first thing you need to understand is that a shutter release cable is not rocket science, the very simple ones, but even the complex ones with timers and such, they only do one thing, when you press the button it closes a circuit, which the camera interpret that as “start to take the picture”, and when you release the button it opens the circuit, and the camera understand that as “close the shutter, we have done”. Some others, like the Canon socket used in my 6D, has a third wire, which does the same thing but it tells to the camera to simply focus. That’s it. And bear in mind that I’m not Nikola Tesla, I really know the rudiments of electronics, just enough to build this shutter release cable.

Another thing I discover the other day is that, while the official remote shutter release uses the USB port, on the X-T1 you can use the microphone audio jack as well to trigger the camera (and I assume is the same with other Fujifilm models, like the X-E2 or the X100T and previous models), which is simply fantastic, because it means that I can use it for my DIY shutter release cable!

Essentially you need only two things: a switch button, which you can buy in any hardware or electronic shops, and I got it from Maplin at around €3, but you can probably find it for less.
The one I bought is the type that you press the first time to close the circuit and the second press it interrupt the circuit.

DIY Shutter Release Cable for the X-T1

The other thing is a cable with a 2.5mm jack audio (stereo or mono, for our purpose the mono is fine), which you can find it for a few euro.
In my case I found a cable I got when I bought the Yongnuo flash trigger, it had the Canon plug on one side, and the jack audio on the other. As it was for the canon it had 3 wires, as a combination of two of them make the shutter fire (red and yellow wires), while another one in combination with one of the previous (I didn’t bother to check which ones) it triggers the focus. Personally I don’t care about the focus, as for landscapes I always focus manually, what I needed it’s just something that allows me to open and close the shutter when I tell it to.
So, what I did was simply to take the right wires, use some electrical tape, or if you have a solderer use it as it’s just a better job that what I did, I don’t have one so I had to improvise.
That’s the result:

DIY Shutter Release Cable for the X-T1

It is not beautiful, there’s far too much tape, and I’m generally not the best for these kind of jobs, but apart from the aesthetics, it works beautifully!
It’s definitely not a long term solution, but if you are stuck and you fancy some DIY it does the trick.
I hope it will help other people like me that needs a shutter release cable on the cheap.
As always, if you have any comments, please leave it in the box below.