Release Me- A quick Cable & Shutter release rundown- now with video posts! (edited 5/2/23)

A plethora of cable releases..

EDIT: I seem to be having issues with my video posts and have now opened a new Instagram account to act as a video back up. I appologize for the inconveniences this may have caused anyone and hope you can enjoy this new edited post the fullest 🙂 -ilicia 5/2/23

Almost all cameras and lens boards have a little hole located on them somewhere which are designed for CABLE RELEASES or SHUTTER RELEASES. Here is quick little rundown of cable/shutter release options. *Only a DUAL SHUTTER CABLE RELEASE is designed for actual stereo twin rigging… but finger syncing two plungers (or rigging a homemade device to press two down at once) is always an option as well.


A variety of different cable release lengths for a variety of different needs.

Length: The length of your cable release is VERY important. You don’t want it too short or too long. If it is too short, you might not be able to operate is comfortably (or at all). If it is too long you it will get unwieldy and perhaps even sneak into your shot when taking your photo/stereo. The cable size is what’s measured- and does not include the 1 or 2″ that make up the part of the plunger unit. They can range anywhere from an inch or two to maybe 15 or 20 feet. You can use a fabric or plastic seamstress measuring tape to estimate how long you might want yours to be.

Cable release Tip or Head: The tip or head (I’ve heard it go by both names) of your cable release might be an important factor. The tiny screw head at the tip of your cable can be short, long, straight, or tapered to a cone shape. There are certain cameras that require a tapered, cone shaped tip, others designed for a straight tip. It’s almost impossible to determine what your camera might require just by looking at the cable release hole, asking other people you know who have owned and used the camera is your best bet, or you can try to see if that info is published in a camera manual. There are TONS of original camera manuals hosted on scroll down to the David S & Susan P resources link located at the bottom of the main landing page, or go to the resources section in the main menu. In addition to these two basic shapes, they can also be different lengths, some can be EXTREMELY short (like one or two turns and it will be screwed in completely) and some can be rather long in comparison. The threading (the actual spiral line that travels down the screw) also can be differently sized. Stereo Realist cameras for example, have a cable release hole designed for a STRAIGHT screw head, not a tapered one. A tapered one will fit, but may strip the screw hole over time.. Finding a release cable that is the same brand of your camera is always a good option, but sometimes very hard or expensive. Pro tip: As a Stereo Realist really is the ubiquitous camera choice for stereo film camera owners- but the Stereo Realist shutter release cable is INCREDIBLY hard to find, you can look for other brands which use a straight screw head, BOLEX is one of them.

The material of the cord is important for it’s lifespan. Fabric wrapped  cords might be cheaper but will not last as long as metal spring coiled or plastic coated.

Material: The material the actual cord is wrapped in (it’s basically designed like an electrical cord, it is an outer “wrapper” that houses a very long spring or flexible filament) can be important to the longevity and lifespan of the cord. I tend to like the metal outer “spring” cords, Sam likes the ones with braided fabric cases in an outer plastic casing. This can also be chosen for personal preference. There are many types of materials that have been used, we tend to stay away from ones that only have a fabric wrapping, they tend to wear out more easily over time and expose the internal spring within the casing.. once that happens, the spring inside often bulges our of the weakened or frayed fabric area and your cable release will most likely not work probably from that moment on. If a cord looks frayed or kinked or broken anywhere, don’t buy it. They are sure to give you problems or not work at all as intended.

Different throw lengths.. they can be short, standard, and long. The throw is measured from the very tip of the screw head to the tip of the pin.

Throw: The little pin that comes out of the tip of the cable release is designed to come out at a specific length. This is called the “throw”. Most cable releases have a standard throw, but there are some that have a very short throw, some that have a very long throw and even some that have an adjustable throw (self timers usually have an adjustment for the throw), Not many people consider this when buying a cable release, and sometimes end up with a cable release with too short of a throw and will not engage the shutter of the camera.. no matter how hard you press 😂😂 If you get one that sees to work but doesn’t engage , you might have gotten one with too short a throw, you might have to buy another.. you can ask your seller to photograph the pin at the end extended at its full length to judge.

Two types of cable release locks. The one on the left is a screw post lock, which can be tightened or loosened by turning the little screw sticking out of the side one way or the other. The one on the right is a collar lock. If it is in lock position, the plunger can be depressed but will not draw the pin back up unless you press down on it (you press down on it the same way you press down on a button, except just pressing on the side of the collar). If it is loosened, then you can depress and release the plunger and the pin will respond accordingly. The videos below illustrate how to luck and unlock each type, just by turning it clockwise or counterclockwise, just like a normal screw

Locks: Nearly all cable releases have a locking system on them, which is located around the plunger that you depress down. Sometimes it is a SIDE POST LOCK, which looks like a little screw on the side of the plunger unit, sometimes it is a COLLAR LOCK, which is a collar screw located at the base of the plunger. If you press your cable release plunger down and it won’t come back up, or if you can’t press it down or bring it back up at all,you probably have the lock on. Just turn it counterclockwise or clockwise until it unlocks or locks, depending on what you need it to do.

Locking & unlocking a side post lock
Locking & unlocking a COLLAR LOCK


Dual shutter release

This is the release on every film camera twin-riggers NEED list. A single plunger that pops two shutter releases simultaneously to two seperate cameras. You’re probably going to want something that is at least 12″ long to allow for the lengths needed to fire cameras twinned at whatever your configuration requires. Pictured here is a 20″ dual release.

Trigger release

This is a trigger grip release or pistol grip release, aptly named as the cable release itself is triggered BY a trigger, resembling in both design and actual action of pulling a trigger on a gun. It should come with a baseplate with a 1/4 20 screw to screw your camera safely onto it. This is the universally standard size hole at the bottom of nearly all cameras that fit tripod mounts, etc.

U-Neck release and Free Arm Joint release

These cable releases have specialty heads at the tip of the cable release, they are for specialty situations and hard to reach camera or lens board configurations.

Self Timer release

This Walz brand self timer can be set up to 15 seconds

There are HUNDREDS of different self timer releases from a variety of brands, some have many settings and adjustments and may look extremely complicated to use. I reccomend getting a simple self timer with a single dial and button. The dial can be wound to the desired time in seconds (just like setting a kitchen timer), and the countdown will start once the button is depressed. The “throw” of the release is usually designed to be adjustable and can be set by tightening or loosening one of the screw posts on the stem of the unit to be deeper or shallower, depending your camera’s requirements.

I hope this little overview of cable releases is helpful and informative! Happy shooting!