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Thread: Does the B stand for bulb?

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    can't remember Tannin's Avatar
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    Does the B stand for bulb?

    You won't believe this, but I don't know how to use the "B" setting on my Canon cameras. Or, for that matter, on any other brand of camera. Until a few weeks ago, it simply wasn't something I had ever wanted or needed to do.

    But lately I've been in some really dark rainforests, and a few night-time situations as well, and I've been pushing the 30-second maximum exposure that the camera can do in aperture priority mode. Or, if I remember correctly, in manual mode - which (I seem to recall) is the same. To get a correct exposure, I've had to up the ISO, where what I've really wanted to do was have a longer exposure - say, 45 seconds, f/16 100i.

    I understand that BULB is the mode you use to do this. How does it work?

    EDIT: I don't have a manual handy. I get better advice here anyway.
    Tony

    People say nothing is impossible, but I do nothing every day.

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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser DAdeGroot's Avatar
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    Yes B is for Bulb mode. You will require a remote. (well ok you can just hold the shutter down but expect camera movement).

    In B mode, set you aperture and iso and then lock the shutter open with the remote. Close the shutter when you have exposed enough for your desired effect.
    Dave

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    Tony,
    For shutter times greater than 30sec you go into M manual mode and adjust the shutter speed to B U L B.
    Now the shutter will stay open for as long as you press the shutter button.
    It is recommended to use a remote shutter release because the shutter will then open on the first press of the remote button and remain open until you press the remote button again.

    Hope that helps.
    Cheers
    Darey

    Nikon user, Thick skinned and wanting to improve, genuine C & C welcomed.

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    Thanks Dave.

    Ouch!

    Not only do I not have a remote - the 10-second timer has always done everything I need - you mean I'm supposed to count seconds aloud or something? I don't wear a watch and in any case the reason I want more than 30 seconds is because it's dark, so how am I supposed to read it!

    How extraordinarily primitive! Why on earth don't cameras have a way to say "45 seconds"?

    Guess I'll just have to get used to it. And I imagine remotes cost a lot - I'll go and find out.

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    Ouch!

    The Canon ones are dear, and require plugging something into the sockets (which I dislike doing - it lets water and dust in).

    There are a zillion off-brand things, some of them so cheap that I can't imagine them working well. (Prejudice.)

    But hang on a second ...... is there a way to have the shutter open when you press, and stay open until you press again? In that case, a remote wouldn't be needed. You only need to use B when the exposure is more than 30 seconds, right? The vibration when you press the shutter on a tripod mounted camera (assume a decent tripod) is - what? One second? Something like that. So in (say) a 60 second exposure, the vibration affected part of it is less than 2% of the total, and you probably couldn't even see it.

    Bet you there is no way to have the shutter stay open.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    is there a way to have the shutter open when you press, and stay open until you press again?
    Unfortunately not. The shutter won't be held open with only a button press; you'd have to hold the button, which would get really annoying if you were exposing for an hour.

    Of course, there's the camera movement issue Dave mentioned.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    In that case, a remote wouldn't be needed.
    It is required.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    You only need to use B when the exposure is more than 30 seconds, right?
    Indeed.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    The vibration when you press the shutter on a tripod mounted camera (assume a decent tripod) is - what? One second? Something like that. So in (say) a 60 second exposure, the vibration affected part of it is less than 2% of the total, and you probably couldn't even see it.
    Ah, but you need to literally keep your finger on the button.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Bet you there is no way to have the shutter stay open.
    Bet you're right.

    If you're not keen on connecting a shutter release to the socket on the side of the camera, there may be some sort of third-party hotshoe-mounted wireless remote available somewhere; I've not looked into these.

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    Thanks Xendis. A very quick and sloppy reading of the Canon blurb for the $800ish wireless remote says that it can go on the hotshoe. But that's overkill for my needs - I mean I've been using digital SLRs since 20D days and it's only recently that I've ever wanted more than 30 seconds. I mostly do birds. So overkill money-wise and clutter-wise - how much equipment should one person try to carry around?

    But I am doing landscapes and things more and more lately ...

    So what is a good, practical, cheapish, plug-in remote that is easy to use and ideally lets you key in (e,g.) 50 seconds?

  8. #8
    are you serious? Shelley's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tannin View Post
    Ouch!

    The Canon ones are dear, and require plugging something into the sockets (which I dislike doing - it lets water and dust in).

    There are a zillion off-brand things, some of them so cheap that I can't imagine them working well. (Prejudice.)

    But hang on a second ...... is there a way to have the shutter open when you press, and stay open until you press again? In that case, a remote wouldn't be needed. You only need to use B when the exposure is more than 30 seconds, right? The vibration when you press the shutter on a tripod mounted camera (assume a decent tripod) is - what? One second? Something like that. So in (say) a 60 second exposure, the vibration affected part of it is less than 2% of the total, and you probably couldn't even see it.

    Bet you there is no way to have the shutter stay open.
    Tony I have a Hahnel Pro Remote Control (which i have used when birding - had to hide and set it of remotely - up to 80 metres). It works very well - took me awhile to work the darn thing out because of stupid instructions - which were useless. It cost $70 from my local camera shop. Probably could get even cheaper online. I didn't want to pay the price of the canon one - for what I wanted to use it for. There is another brand - can't think of it, for the life of me. It was worth the money for me, as I actually have used it a lot more than what I thought I would.

    Have a look at this site for more information - i don't recommend you buy from there, but just found this to show you what it looks like.
    http://www.hahnel.ie/index.cfm?page=...s&id=35&pId=35
    And yes you are prejudiced. Though I would only buy L lens now...
    Shelley
    (constructive criticism welcome)

    www.shelleypearsonphotography.com


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    Sounds like a plan, Shelly. Thankyou!

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    Way Down Yonder in the Paw Paw Patch jim's Avatar
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    Tony—some Chinese stuff:

    http://www.phottixstore.com/?___store=ps_oc_en

    I have a Phottix Cleon, and it works well on my Nikon, both as a wired and wireless remote. Should imagine it goes ok with Canon too.

    [edit] That is to say there are Canon versions, and I expect they're good too.
    Last edited by jim; 09-06-2010 at 2:02am.

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    I have a cheapie and it works very well indeed. Purchsed it on eBay. You can also get programmable ones that you set the length you want and set and forget. For things like star trail pics, you can do a series of images at, say 4mins, and then just go away and do something else.

    Here is one eBay seller who has them for $7.99, but just go to the shutter remotes section and tick Canon and you will get lots of choices.

    Manuals can be downloaded on line. I fond having it on the computer much more convenient than trying to find what I want in the book (after I have found the book, of course.
    Odille

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    Member David's Avatar
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    I have no trouble with my plug in remote for long exposures Tony: and I give it a good clean when I get home and put tape over the other socket openings so no crap can get in.

    Eventually you are going to be asking yourself, well how long do I expose for to get the correct exposure. When I started using B it was guess work, you know, think I will try 45 seconds and see how that goes then a minute etc.. in the dark it is very hard to see the results and they look different when you put them on the computer anyway sometimes.

    To take the guess work out (this does not always work of course) I keep my ISO at 400 max and leave it there. Then I switch the camera to manual and use infinity to guide my focussing, make sense so far ?

    Then I knock the apeture down to the lowest the lens will allow, say 4.0 and adjust the shutter speed to get it where I want it on the 2...1.....0....1....2 for 'correct exposure".

    But I want to shoot the shot at F11 because it is a landscape covering some distance...so I do a calculation

    At 4.0, the shutter speed on ..0..tells me I need 25 seconds for 'correct exposure'

    I want F11 which is 3 stops up from 4.0, so I have to multiply my shutter speed/exposure time by 3 .. so 25sec becomes 50sec....50 sec becomes 100sec and 100sec becomes 200sec. now I know I need to expose the image for 3 min 20 seconds to get (roughly) a correct exposure at F11. Because I have Photomatix I take three shots, one at the estimated correct exposure and another 2 shot, one at -1 and one at +1 in RAW.

    When I get them home I have a look and decide if I can choose one of the 3 options without having to blend them together in Photomatix and if not, whack em together and see what happens.

    I have to put a footnote here: I have not done long exposure night shots a great deal, but the theory works in terms of taking out the exposure time guess work most of the time.

    As for the watch thing, buy a cheap watch with light colours and a small torch you can put in your pocket (I got one from a service station for 10.00) and use that to watch the time on your new elcheapo watch.

    That is all: please don't say you knew all this already
    Last edited by David; 09-06-2010 at 7:12am.
    Comments and CC welcome..

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    I think you'll have to learn to count Tony - or start carrying a watch or something like it (GPS? Mine has a stopwatch function.)

    It's disappointing that the higher-end cameras have dropped IR remote support - it was an effective solution IMO.
    Regards, Rob

    D600, AF-S 35mm f1.8G DX, AF-S 50mm f1.8G, AF-S 24-85mm f3.5-4.5G ED VR, AF-S 70-300mm F4.5-5.6G VR, Sigma 10-20mm F4-5.6 EX DC HSM
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    Ausphotography Site Sponsor/Advertiser OzzieTraveller's Avatar
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    G'day Tony

    The above respondents have give you lots of advice

    Some time ago I posted a startrails pic using a home-made Bulb attachment
    Link ---
    http://www.ausphotography.net.au/for...ad.php?t=55161

    This might do you quite well at no cost
    Regards, Phil
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    images.: flickr.com/photos/ozzie_traveller/sets/

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    http://www.kigrasoft.com/ExpAssist/index.html

    If you have an iphone, this mob makes a long exposure calculator with a video of how to use it

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    My 400d, when in Bulb mode, displays the current length of time the shutter has been open on the LCD. So I know how longs its been open for.

    Normally I put my ISO to, say 800, then expose using Manual mode until the meter says it's ok. Then I put it back to ISO 100 and do the maths to figure out the equivalent shutter speed required. If that makes sense. Then go to Bulb, leave the shutter open for that amount and away you go.

    Of course it's pretty difficult to get it right still sometimes where there are really bright spots and dark spots which mean it still isn't exposed properly but it's trial and error after that.

    Interestingly I think I was out with David once and his 7D and the newer models don't have the shutter time on the LCD. If I remember correctly. Weird that the 400D has it and not the bigger and better cameras.
    Michael.

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  17. #17
    It's all about the Light!
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    FYI http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bulb_%28photography%29
    The bulb comes from an old style rubber air blower that was squeezed to operate the shutter pneumatically.
    The shutter stayed open until the bulb was released.

    What worries me is I saw one in use (late 60's), on a very old view camera.
    I was very young at the time but remember Dad taking me to his friends place who was into photography, I was intrigued by it all.

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    Ausphotography Veteran Speedway's Avatar
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    I have a wireless remote for my 7D, it plugs in but I brush and blow out the socket after using in a dusty environment. There is one available from here for under $30.00 and this one has a full timer built in and you can set it to do multiple exposures (Time lapse) as well. I am going to update mine
    Keith

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    There is software, used by astronomers, called Astro Photography Tool at www.astroplace.net that might be helpful. Currently only for Canon EOS owners.
    Canon 550D EF-S 18-55mm and 55-250 IS

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    A royal pain in the bum! arthurking83's Avatar
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    Tony!

    Highly recommended is the Phottix wireless remotes easily and plentifully available on ebay for approx $30ish.

    While I have to admit that mine 'broke', the breakage is entirely my fault, and will almost certainly not happen to most ordinary(ie read that as... sane) humans.
    I used to place the camera with the wireless remote contraption still attached to the camera(D300) and the plug of the D300 sits at the front of the camera, so it;s easy to just slip it into the camera bag and drive off to the next instalment.
    But the camera bag places a lot of pressure on the front of the camera to hold it securely(that's how I set the bag up!), so all of the weight of the camera and lens is being forced onto the small remote plug still attached to the camera, the remote receiver box is usually fitted to the hotshoe.
    So the right angled remote plug became a little damaged, where the wires were stressed to breaking point. the remote still works but the cable doesn't.
    A replacement D300 connector costs a small fortune, and one day when I find one cheap(cheaper than a replacement wireless remote that is!.. I'll fix it, and donate it to a nice person with a Nikon 8pin plug type camera...

    Phottix seem to do the job for a good price. I have seen similar wirleless remotes selling in photographic stores for $80 or more!! They're exactly the same design as the Phottix ones, but I've never seen the Phottix brand for sale in shops.. only on ebay.

    Highly recommended.

    The wired remote has a shutter release locking mechanism, where you press the remote release button and then slide the locking mechanism over or under the button and then count the time away.

    The phottix wireless remote works on a very simple and sensible system where you press and hold the button on the remote for about 2seconds and are then able to release your finger off the button(to open the shutter), and then press the remote button again(to close the shutter).
    Cameras should have that system by default and via a menu system.. after all they are electronically linked so it should be easy to do.

    Also phottix have reasonably cheap intervalometer wired remote that can be used to set a timed exposure. How reliable they are??... I dunno, but I like their products so I'd chance it.

    Substitute Phottix for most of the other ebay brands too and I think you'll end up with the same device.
    Nikon D800E, D300, D70s
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