diy mechanical shutter release for pentax kx (or any camera)

The Pentax Kx does not have a wired cable release release. This is a real hindrance in some circumstances, but it is possible to get around it with a little ingenuity.

There are two ways of using a cable release that I wanted to replicate. This section shows a simple mechanical method of tripping the shutter. To be honest, it is easier to use the infrared remote if you just want a single shot or two. But if you want to shoot for an extended period in continuous mode, you might find something like this handy.

It is simple and cheap to make, you might even have all you need already. I used:

* A strip of perspex (because you can heat it to shape it) * A flash to 1/4″ adapter (I have one of these that I bought on eBay and use it just because that is an easier method of attaching the apparatus to the camera) * An old mechanical cable release.

First, cut a strip of perspex about 1-2cm wide and about 10cm long. Smooth the edges and round the corners. Now work out the difference in height between the flash and the shutter. On the Kx it is about 2cm, so you want about 1cm of contour for the perspex holder. A ‘step’ works best, as it will hold the shutter release at a more perpendicular angle to the shutter button. Place something heatproof and the right height (approx 1cm) on a piece of greaseproof or baking paper on an oven tray. I have used a stack of coins and a kitchen weight from a set of scales, but anything the right height will do. Place one end of the perspex on the ‘step’ and place another weight on top of that. Place it in an over heated to around 150-200 degrees for about 10 minutes. The heat will soften the perspex and it will probably come out with a smooth curved step. You can adjust the angles while it is hot, but don’t touch it with your fingers!

Next, all you need to do is drill the fitting holes. A 7mm or 8mm hole will be fine for the hotshoe end. Clean off any stray plastic crumbs or dust and attach the perspex to the camera. Line up the other end with the shutter button and mark where the cable release hole needs to go. Depending on your cable release, a 2mm or 3mm hole should be about right if you want to screw the cable release thread into the perspex. For a more secure fitting, drill a hole just large enough for the metal sheath of the cable release and secure with a small nut or glue.

Most cable releases will have a collar that will hold the shutter in the activated position, which is the most likely way you would want to use this device. If you are not sure why you would want to take a series of pictures in succession, it is useful for stacking continuous 30 second exposures to create startrails at night http://adcuz.co.uk/2009/06/25/how-to-star-trails-stacking-with-startrailsexe/. I have also used it successfully to produce a daytime time lapse video using the low speed continuous shooting mode on the Kx and then Startrails http://startrails.de/html/software.html (it stacks as well as producing video) to create the video from the jpeg files.

Coming soon – a programmable timer remote for the Pentax Kx – yes it is possible with a little ingenuity!