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05-11-2012, 09:16 AM   #1
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Remote shutter release problems

Hey all,

For the past year and change I've been using a cheap, fully programmable remote shutter release I bought off of ebay from China. It's done a great job with my K-7, but the last month it has developed strange behavior -- failing to trigger shots and lately aborting them during the middle of bulb exposures.

I can never reproduce this behavior at home where it miraculously starts working properly again, but it has become completely unreliable in the field. Here's the strange thing though -- the timer and all on the remote continue to plug along without issue, so there is clearly an issue with the signal reaching the camera.

I have ordered another remote but it will be some weeks before it arrives. I am concerned the problem may actually lie with my camera, i.e. I wonder if the contacts for the remote have become damaged in some way. Has anyone ever had anything like that happen with their camera? Obviously the weather sealing is gone when the flap is open and the remote is plugged in -- has anyone had remote function become spotty after water ingress due to condensation, rain, ocean spray?

05-11-2012, 09:28 AM   #2
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When you're using it at home, does the remote box sit on a table or hang off the remote connector cord and therefore hang off the camera connector?

When you're using it in the field does the remote box hang or is fastened so it doesn't hang off the camera connection?

Try triggering the camera while GENTLY moving the connector around where it connects into the camera.

This could help troubleshooting.
05-11-2012, 09:42 AM   #3
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
When you're using it at home, does the remote box sit on a table or hang off the remote connector cord and therefore hang off the camera connector?

When you're using it in the field does the remote box hang or is fastened so it doesn't hang off the camera connection?

Try triggering the camera while GENTLY moving the connector around where it connects into the camera.

This could help troubleshooting.
I thought this might be an issue, yes, i.e. perhaps the wiring inside the remote was loose and weight pulling on it would cause problems. But I always hold the remote in my hand in the field for the full duration of the exposures.

I have also found that -- sometimes -- unplugging it, turning everything off, and shaking the camera a bit before trying again 'resets' the system.
05-11-2012, 10:00 AM   #4
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If shaking the camera makes it work that does point to the camera.

One more thing to try would be to buy a cheap stereo cord with the same connector as the camera uses, cut the connector off the other end and bare & strip the wires.

Plug the cord into the camera and try connecting the various wires to each other while 'wiggling' the connector at the camera end. This should make the camera fire the shutter & focus and should also see if the connector is bad.

If it works OK you could always try connecting the remote to the bare wires by cutting off it's connector and just joining them.

If the connector inside the camera is faulty then this might isolate the problem.

05-11-2012, 10:40 AM   #5
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I tried manipulating the plug while it was connected to the camera like you suggested and discovered something kind of interesting. It seems to severe connection when the plug is rotated in the socket past a certain point. It's not the same point every time, in fact it seems to change when the camera is oriented differently.

Perhaps some connection inside is loose and also subject to gravity. If you hold the camera and plug steady relative to one another while rotating the whole system through different angles, the signal breaks sometimes too.

Best bet right now seems to just make sure nothing moves during an exposure. This probably doesn't bode well for the camera...
05-11-2012, 10:45 AM   #6
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That certainly sounds like the connection inside is damaged with a loose wire, that's a pity.

You've already ordered a new remote unit but I was wondering if there are any remotes that do the kind of thing you want to do but use the IR connection instead. I haven't seen any on ebay but then I haven't looked. That would let you still do the photography you want just using the wireless remote instead.
05-11-2012, 11:11 AM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
That certainly sounds like the connection inside is damaged with a loose wire, that's a pity.

You've already ordered a new remote unit but I was wondering if there are any remotes that do the kind of thing you want to do but use the IR connection instead. I haven't seen any on ebay but then I haven't looked. That would let you still do the photography you want just using the wireless remote instead.
Yeah I was wondering the same vis-a-vis an IR remote with that functionality. I haven't seen anything like that though -- all the IR remotes I've seen are just a simple button.

I took a look into the port with a flashlight very closely. I don't know enough about electronics to guess precisely how the plug conveys its signal, but it looks like the inner wall of the socket is perforated in a couple locations. The plug itself is slightly ribbed, so it's probably making those holes worse every time I plug and unplug it. Bummer.

Well, I've been thinking it's about time for a new camera for quite a while now...
05-11-2012, 11:17 AM   #8
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Those type of connectors typically have little spring contacts, about 2 or 3 in a row (one for each corresponding contact on the plug). They could have got out of alignment or bent.

It might be worth while getting a repair quote but knowing a bit about electronics, they're probably want to replace an entire main board instead of a cheap little connector.

Oh well, there's always the K-5 to upgrade to. Same connection and a more upgraded sensor plus a couple of other extras. Your K-7 could still be used as a backup body.

05-11-2012, 11:22 AM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by mtansley Quote
Those type of connectors typically have little spring contacts, about 2 or 3 in a row (one for each corresponding contact on the plug). They could have got out of alignment or bent.

It might be worth while getting a repair quote but knowing a bit about electronics, they're probably want to replace an entire main board instead of a cheap little connector.

Oh well, there's always the K-5 to upgrade to. Same connection and a more upgraded sensor plus a couple of other extras. Your K-7 could still be used as a backup body.
Yep, well, in the not-impossible-but-not-necessarily-likely scenario that I win the member article contest, I know what I'm putting the prize money towards, lol.

I was planning to save for a Nikon FF for purchase later this year or early next. Don't really want to spend a ton of money on another Pentax camera right now, but having a K-5 as a second body with some small primes would hardly be a tragedy.
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