There are many reasons why you might want to trigger your camera's shutter remotely, and a range of wired and wireless remotes enable you to do this.
Wireless remotes are particularly useful when taking group shots with yourself in the frame, or when it isn't practical to stand directly behind your camera at the time of capture, such as with some nature photography.
Cheaper wired remotes, meanwhile, are just as suitable as wireless types when you want to trigger the camera without touching the shutter release button, such as for macro photography where camera stability is vital to achieving a sharp image.
When choosing a remote, you should think about all the situations in which you may want to use one. Although cheaper than wireless options, wired remotes are limited by the length of their cables, for example.
Wireless remotes have far longer working ranges, but when choosing one you should pay attention to the principle on which they operate, which will be either via radio frequency (RF) or infrared (IR).
The reason for this is that the IR type generally require line of sight with the receiver on the camera; since these are often located on the front of a camera, you will have trouble triggering these from behind. The solution to this is an alternative that works on radio frequencies - which will even work through walls and floors - although, naturally, these are more expensive.
Before buying a remote release system for your camera, it's worth investigating whether your camera already is already equipped with the kind of functionality you may require.
Practically all cameras now offer self-timer options, which enable you to delay the exposure by a few seconds.
Some more expensive models also feature a mirror lock option, which lifts the mirror up in a separate stage to the sensor actually being exposed to light. This is useful because the vibration from the mirror swinging up can often introduce some image blurring. Of course, neither of these options allow you to trigger a camera remotely, so they won't be practical in every situation.
Hama RS60-E3 - £13 (around $20)
This is Hama's direct equivalent of the Canon RS60-E3 wired remote - it's pretty much the same size and it operates in exactly the same way. A two-stage switch enables autofocus and metering with a light press, and shutter release with a full press. The switch also slides forward once it's fully pressed, enabling you to lock it in place for bulb exposures or prolonged shooting in continuous drive mode.
The cable length is a bit more generous than on the Canon RS60-E3 equivalent, at 80cm rather than 60cm, but the two-stage button feels a little imprecise by comparison. Even so, it represents pretty good value.
Canon RC-6 - £15/$22
Bypassing the usual need for one of two types of terminal connectors, the infrared Canon RC-6 works with all current Canon cameras apart from the1100D and variants of the 1D. Since Canon DSLRs only tend to have an IR receiver at the front of the camera, built into the hand grip, you can't operate the camera from behind.
But the RC-6 is particularly useful for self-portraits, with a range of five metres and a two-second self-timer delay, and unlike the older RC-5, the addition of a switch on the back panel also offers immediate shutter release. The main button is only a one-stage switch, so you can't activate autofocus and light metering in advance.
Canon RS-60E3 - £15/$22
Small and simple to use, Canon's RS-60E3 suits all cameras with a mini-jack remote control terminal, to which it connects via a 60cm cable. For tidy stowage, the cable wraps around the body of the controller and there's a dummy socket for the plug to fit into. The unit requires no batteries, and the only moving part is the remote shutter button assembly.
This has a good solid feel to it, with a precise two-stage mechanism for autofocus and metering with a light press, and shooting with a full press. Once fully pressed the button can slide forward to lock in place for bulb exposures or continuous shooting, without the need to keep the button manually pressed in.
Hahnel HRC 280 Remote Release - £15/$30
Ideal for photographers who have multiple cameras with both types of remote controller terminal, the Hahnel HRC280 fits both. The controller itself has a socket in which a cable can be fitted and locked in place, making it work with Canon, Pentax or Samsung DSLRs. Both types are supplied with 80cm cables, and you also get a two-metre extension cable; the controller therefore acts as a direct replacement for both the Canon RS-60E3 and RS-80N3 controllers.
The two-stage shutter button doesn't quite have the same level of precision as the Canon remotes, but it's still very good, and it also features a slide-forward locking mechanism for bulb exposures or continuous shooting.
Hama CA-1 - £20 (around $31)
A neat little unit, the CA-1 is a wireless RF remote for cameras that have a mini-jack remote controller terminal. It's cheap compared with most RF controllers, although it has a relatively limited maximum range of 30m, despite having an extending aerial built in to the transmitter (see the Hama CA-2 review for more).
As with other wireless remote controllers, you can switch between radio channels to avoid interference with other people's kit, using easily accessible switches on both units.
Hama CA-2 - £30 (around $47)
The Hama CA-2 controller looks and feels identical to the CA-1, but has an additional three-pin connector to suit cameras such as the Canon EOS 5Dand Canon EOS 7D. Unlike most wireless remotes, the receiver unit doesn't have the facility to clip in to the camera's hot shoe, so it merely dangles from its connection terminal, putting a bit of a strain on the plug and socket.
The extendable aerial on the transmitter is a bit flimsy, but you can shoot from a few metres away, even through walls, without the need to extend it. As with the Hama CA-1, there's compatibility for single, continuous, self-timer and bulb shooting, but drive modes have to be selected on the camera itself.
Hama Wireless Remote DCCS - £40 (around $62)
Costing just a little more than Hama's CA-1 and CA-2 wireless RF remotes, its DCCS model is a much better option. There's no extending aerial on the transmitter but the range is much greater nevertheless, at 150m as opposed to 30m.
The transmitter features a drive mode switch with single, continuous, self-timer and bulb options, while the receiver also goes one better with its own two-stage shutter button, which can be used to trigger the camera in wired remote mode, even with no batteries fitted. An additional connection cable makes it compatible with Canon, Kodak, Olympus, Samsung, Fuji, Leica, Panasonic, Sony, Konica-Minolta, Nikon or Pentax DSLRs.
Hahnel Combi TF - £40/$90
A versatile remote with a wireless RF range of 100m, the Combi TF comes with both three-pin and mini-jack cables to ensure compatibility with all Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Panasonic DSLRs. Switches on the transmitter module provide options for immediate or four-second delayed firing, and there's compatibility for continuous drive and bulb exposures.
Unusually among other units, the transmitter can also be mounted in the camera's hot shoe to enable firing of a remote flashgun, the only frustration being that the flash will only work in manual mode and not with TTL flash metering. Extras include a dual-colour LED that indicates a light press or full press of the two-stage shutter button.
Hama Timer Remote DCCS - £40 (around $62)
Unlike the Hahnel Giga T Pro II, this timer remote is wired rather than wireless, but boasts a similar range of shooting options. These include single, continuous and time-delay modes that can be selected using the controller, and bulb exposures using a timer that's displayed on the LCD panel.
A four-way pad makes for easy adjustment of settings for time-lapse shooting, including the number of shots in the sequence and the delay between each shot. However, it lacks the Hahnel's option to set dual parameters for short bursts of shots at intervals throughout a longer overall time-lapse sequence. Separate cables make it compatible with Canon, Kodak, Olympus, Samsung, Fuji, Leica, Panasonic, Sony, Konica-Minolta, Nikon or Pentax cameras.
Phottix TR-90 - £50/$61
The TR-90 is a timer remote that connects via an 80cm cable, without any wireless aspirations. As such it's similar to the Hama Timer Remote, but lacks the option of alternative cables for mini-jack or three-pin terminals; so while you don't need to spend extra money on connection cables, you do need make sure you buy the correct version to suit your camera.
There are no onboard controls to select different drive modes, so this has to be done on the camera itself. Its time-lapse option is simple to use, and long exposures can be captured using either the self-timer and locking shutter button mechanism, or by pre-programming the required exposure time. Cables are available to link it with Canon, Nikon, Fuji, Kodak, Sony or Olympus DSLRs.
Nissin Universal Shoe Cord SC-01 - £55/$65
This coiled cord, for firing flash off-camera, is pricier than other third-party options, but has an additional hotshoe for dual flash use, and works flawlessly.
Secureline Twin 1-R3 TRC/TRN/TRS - £60/$50
Available for upmarket Canon, Nikon and Sony DSLRs, this remote includes a receiver for wired and wireless shutter release, the latter with a 100m range and selectable communication channels. A half-price, wireless 'UT' version is available for DSLRs with infrared receivers.
Hahnel Giga T Pro II - £60/$100
The Giga T Pro II's 100m range is sufficient for most shooting situations, and the backlight on the remote's LCD screen allows it to be easily used at night. It works brilliantly at distances and through walls and floors, and for its price it's very well specified, although a sturdy metal foot on the receiver would be preferable.
Like other Hahnel remotes, this one is available for Canon, Nikon, Olympus and Sony bodies. Along with a 100m wireless RF range, there's a full feast of features including adjustable self-timer delay, single, continuous and bulb modes, and interval settings for time-lapse shooting.
Better still, there are two independent interval options, so you can shoot a programmed burst of exposures at set intervals throughout a longer overall period. Everything's controlled via a neat interface based around a four-way pad and LCD display. Build quality is excellent, and overall the Giga T Pro II puts the Canon TC-80N3 to shame, while costing only half the price.
Phottix Aion - £80/$90
A significant step up from the TR-90, the Phottix Aion boasts wireless connectivity with a range of 60m, and comes with cables to fit both types of camera connection. The transmitter unit is packed with all the features you need for selecting different drive modes, programmable self-timer delays, adjustable long exposure (bulb) shooting and time-lapse photography.
There's even an adjustable exposure bracketing option for long exposures, and everything's wrapped up behind a neat control panel with LCD display. You can also use the controller in wired rather than wireless mode, connecting the transmitter direct to the camera using one of the supplied cables. It works with Canon, Nikon, Sony and Olympus DSLRs.
Phottix Strato II - £100/$90
The Strato II is an affordable wireless flash/camera trigger that works well, even at long distances. Switches and buttons for channel and group selection are comfortable to operate, and all relevant cables are provided.
Canon TC-80N3 - £120/$136
Despite being a wired rather than wireless controller, the TC-80N3 still requires a single CR2032 battery to power its LCD display and all-round cleverness. Connecting to compatible cameras such as the Canon EOS 5Dand Canon EOS 7D via a three-pin plug, the unit's features include a self-timer, long-exposure timer, interval timer and the option to set the number of shots in a sequence.
It also works as a straightforward remote control, with the same basic functions as the RS-80N3, even with no battery fitted. It's simple to use, with a switch that cycles between the four main operating modes, a start/stop button, LCD display illumination switch and jog control for altering the settings.
Canon LC-5 - £335/$430
In addition to being a consummately professional piece of kit the LC-5 is real beast of a controller, with the receiver module and transmitter taking eight AA batteries between them. The unit is compatible with three-pin terminals on DSLRs such as the Canon EOS 5D and Canon EOS 7D, and there are three infrared channels to reduce the risk of your camera being fired by someone else's controller.
You can switch the camera to continuous drive mode and then select between single or continuous drive, or a 3.5-second delay, on the controller from up to 100m away. It works for bulb shooting but the two-stage shutter button has no lock, so you have to keep the button pressed for the whole exposure.