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Firstly, a quick checklist for your long exposure camera. You should get a camera with at least the following features:

Camera with a "B" setting

The choice of camera for bulb photography is important but not too difficult.

I consider there is only one essential criteria for choosing a camera: you must be able to leave the lens open for as long as you want.

This sounds really obvious but, with modern and cheaper cameras this is not always as readily available as you may think.

The most tell tale sign these days is to check if the camera has a "B" shuuter speed setting. This is usually found in the same place as a series of numbers (representing shutter speeds, usually in fracitons of seconds). These are typically at least the following 1000, 500, 250, 125, 60, 30, 15, 8, 4, 2, 1, B.

If you are buying a camera on a budget - like I always seem to be doing it - then a castoff or hand me down or second hand camera may not only fit the bill - it could be better than a newer more modern one.

I prefer a mechanical (not electrical) shutter release - often that means an older camera. If the lens is kept open by an electronic mechanism it is not always clear what will happen when the battery runs out!

Shutter cable release

The next near essential feature in a camera is a cable release. This allows you to open and close the shutter without touching the camera. I prefer to have a manual cable release (again a feature of the OM-1) for the same reasons as mentioned above - it's not clear what happens when the battery fails.


Some would argue this should be a solid clunky thing. As with everything in life, it's up to the individual.

Of course, if you have a solid cast iron rock solid tripod there is a good chance that it will remain stable in a heavy wind. But it weighs a ton.

I carry around one of those tiny ones which has each leg about the size of a ball point or biro pen. It serves me well - and in many ways it has as much chance of staying stable in a gale as anything else.

It's a little fiddly in some ways, and difficult to get my head and face behind in terms of making sure I have a level horizon but - it is so light and easy to carry. Very handy to have available unexpectedly.

Other stuff

Light meter

Not really required - once you get below 1 second shutter speeds experience is the best teacher and you can muck around with aperture to increase your shutter speed and therefore give you more room for error.


Handy but be very careful (or very creative) when using it around the camera. The smaller the better.

Time keeping piece

Once you get past a few seconds it's pretty well essential to have one - and preferably a digital stop watch with a light (which, come to think of it, I have never had or used - but it sounds like a good idea).

Warm covering if you are doing this out of doors

Seriously - it can get very cold standing around for 20 minutes doing nothing other than praying that someone does not walk into your shot and shine a flashlight at you.

Related / Other Pages

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