This is a guest post from Dierk Topp:
Cheap solution for Long Time Exposures with Sony NEX and Alpha cameras beyond 30 seconds
A few weeks ago I noticed a very special phenomena. When I left our house for a few minutes of fresh air at about 11 PM I noticed incredible flashes in the clouds, no noise or thunder but flashes every few seconds or even faster.
I hurried to get a camera. I decided to use the A7RII and the FE 24-70 f/4 zoom to be flexible with the angle of view. And I took a tripod and the IR remote shutter release. For the long exposure time I set the camera to B (bulb) and used the IR remote release. I was pressing the release for about 20 seconds and noticed, that the shutter stayed open after I finished pressing and then the shutter closed after I pressed it again! ?
I don’t know if this was described earlier but for me it was new. I know an undocumented trick like this for the Leica M9 (by using B in combination with the self timer).
If you know old cameras or large format cameras you will know, that you have a shutter speed of ‘B’ that keeps the shutter open as long as you press the shutter release, just like on the Sony and other cameras. And you have a shutter speed ‘T’ that opens the shutter when you press the release and stays open until you press it again. But on these older cameras you can use a cable release that is not possible on the Sony cameras, that I know (without any additional hardware) .
What can you do for longer exposures without shaking and blurring the image by holding the shutter release all the time? With the little trick described here you even get a ‘T’ exposure like with the old cameras and get any desired exposure time.
When do you may need very long exposures?
- as in this example for pictures of flashes
- or if you want to use high density ND filters for interesting long time shots of water and/or clouds
- and several other situations where 30 sec. exposure on ‘A’ or ‘B’ is not long enough
How to find the right exposure time?
To find the right exposure time you take a test shot with high ISO and/or open aperture in order to stay below the 30 sec. limit and calculate the exposure time for the desired low ISO and aperture.
Here again how it works:
- set the shutter speed to B
- use a remote IR controller (mine is a cheap one from ebay)
- press the controller once for starting the exposure
- press the controller again to finish the exposure
It works with my A6000, A7R and A7RII and it may work with many other Sony NEX and Alpha cameras as well.
There are other solutions like APPs and or for example intervalometer, but if you have a cheap remote IR release this is by far the easiest solution and does not eat the battery of your smart phone.
If you don’t want or need the Long Exposure Noise Reduction (LENR) and wait the same time till the camera is ready for the next shot you can deactivate it in the menu.
Have fun to test it.
Here is an example with 67 seconds exposure time.