There are many reasons why you might want to trigger your camera's shutter remotely, and there are a range of wired and wireless remote releases that 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 types of 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.
Prices start at around £15 in the UK and $22 in the US for the basic, key fob-like Canon RC-6 infrared remote or the wired Canon RS-60E3 controller. At the other end of the scale, the professional-minded Canon LC-5 weighs in at a colossal £335/$430, and enables you to shoot from up to 100m away from the camera.
At mid-range prices of between £30-60/$40-70 there's lots to get excited about. Features include wireless RF (Radio Frequency) connectivity; single, continuous and timer-delay shooting modes switched direct from the controller; some remotes even include options for controlling time-lapse shooting.
Wired or wireless
One distinction that's commonly made between types of remote controller is whether they're wireless, or connect to the camera via a cable. All controllers apart from the Canon RC-6, whether wired or wireless, have a cable that connects to the camera's remote control terminal.
With wired remotes the controller plugs into the terminal, giving you an operating range of about 60-80cm (extension cables are available to boost the range).
Wireless remotes have separate transmitter and receiver units, the latter of which connect to the camera's remote control terminal via its own cable.
There are two types of wireless system. The Canon LC-5 uses an infrared beam, similar to that of the Canon RC-6 controller, but much more powerful. The maximum operating range is 100m, compared with just 5m for the RC-6. All other wireless remotes here use an RF (Radio Frequency) link.
The only real advantage of an infrared system is that you can use it in countries and situations where the use of RF equipment is forbidden.
However, just like TV remote controllers that use a similar infrared link, you need a line of sight between the transmitter and receiver. This means that if someone or something blocks the controller's path of light between you and the camera, you won't be able to take your shot. RF links have no such constraints.
It's useful to be able to lightly press the shutter button on a remote controller to enable the camera to achieve autofocus and light metering, and then fully press it when you want to take your shot, as with the shutter button on the camera.
Most remotes have this type of two-stage shutter button. However, the Canon RC-6 instead has a one-stage button that needs to be fully pressed to activate autofocus and metering, after which the shot is taken either immediately or after a short delay.
A benefit of using the remote control terminal rather than the camera's infrared receiver is that you have greater flexibility in drive modes. Instead of being limited to the self-timer/remote drive mode, you can also select the single or continuous drive modes.
Some controllers enable you to switch between single, continuous and a self-timer delay on the controller itself, rather than making adjustments on the camera. This can be a bonus if you're some distance away from the camera, as it saves you having to walk back and forth every time you want to make a minor change.
Advanced controllers often include timers for bulb (long exposure) shooting, so you can either use the controller as a stop watch or set the length of exposure; other features may include a time-lapse mode. Such functions are controlled via an LCD display and menus.
So, now that we know all that, here's our selection of our favourite camera remote releases.