I'm a bit of a newbie with my Nikon D5200. I see the longest the shutter can stay open for is 30 sec on this camera.

How do I get it to stay open for longer? Do I need a remote?

  • Downvoted as the question does not contain any research effort (like reading the manual). Jul 23 '14 at 22:30

While you can use the Bulb mode and press the shutter release button, the button presses are likely to cause unwanted camera shake, even on the sturdiest tripod. I use and recommend an intervalometer such as this: http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA04D09G0109 Notice that the shutter release time can be set for any time up to 99 hours, 59 minutes and 59 seconds.

  • I am using the same device on my Pentaxes. I can recommend it. It functions both as a simple remote, as a time lapse timer for 1000s of images in a row and as a long exposure timer. Jul 24 '14 at 7:12
  • If you want to control exposure timing manually, rather than programming in times, is that an option with the intervalometer? If not, a simple remote release would be an alternative as well.
    – Lee Saxon
    Jan 22 '16 at 2:25

Put it in Manual (M) mode and roll the wheel until it shows 'Bulb' on the display. Press and hold the shutter button for the desired length of time. You don't need a remote, but it helps to prevent camera shake to a great extent.

P.S. The manual is your friend.

  • 1
    Are you sure with the D5200 you don't need to hold the shutter button down to keep it open? Press to open, release to close. It's all in the manual, page 60. cdn-10.nikon-cdn.com/pdf/manuals/dslr/D5200RM_EN.pdf
    – Michael C
    Jul 24 '14 at 2:53
  • I don't think RTFM responses are necessary. These manuals are not well written (or maybe not well translated?). I know DSLRs extremely well and still find the manuals confusing on the rare occasion I need them. For someone with limited experience?
    – Lee Saxon
    Jan 22 '16 at 2:31

Long exposures are one area where electronic sensors can't do what film did. Electronic sensors accumulate noise over time, in addition to any signals due to light hitting the sensor. This is why the designers of such cameras limit the maximum exposure time so something around 30 seconds. If you could hold the shutter open, and have the sensor therefore accumulate date, for 10 minutes, then you'd get mostly noise anyway.

The solution with electronics sensors is to take multiple shorter pictures. For example, twenty 30 second exposures back to back gathers pretty much the same information as one 10 minute exposure, except that the sensor noise is reset to zero 20 times during that exposure. You then combine the 20 pictures digitally later to get something like the long single exposure.

Many digital cameras have intervalometer capability built in. I don't remember whether the D5200 does, but I know higher end Nikons do. With that capability, you can set it up to take the 20 exposures in sequence automatically.

However, twenty 30 second exposures back to back still isn't the same thing as a single 10 minute exposure as film would record. The problem is that the digital sensor still has quantization noise. This means you can get the effect of motion over the 10 minutes, but not all the same low light gathering capability of film for the 10 minutes. As a simplistic example, let's say the digital sensor can only tell you light levels from 0 to 15. If in 30 seconds only .9 accumulates, this will be reported as 0 each time, and after averaging this for 20 exposures you still get 0.

If you are using long exposure to accumulate faint light, then you have one of the few cases where you should probably use film. There are ways to reduce noise in digital sensors so that they can accumulate light for longer times, but these cost a lot of money and infrastructure. For example, cooling such a sensor reduces one type of noise. When you're spending a billion dollars putting a telescope into orbit, you can afford to do this, but the price will be rather beyond reach for the average D5200 user.

  • What a strange answer... I think it misses the point of the question. Maybe you can revise it such that it answers the question and then add the rest as an informative comment on why the OP should consider film or stacking for (very) long exposures? Jul 23 '14 at 22:29
  • @Bart: I don't get why everyone is so against giving additional information relevant to the question, even if it may not directly answer the question. This answer is basically, "Don't do that, here's why, so do this instead". That should be a perfectly legitimate style of answer. I can see how it might not get upvoted, but downvoting relevant information makes no sense, unless you think it is incorrect, in which case you really should explain what you think is incorrect. Jul 23 '14 at 23:10
  • 1
    I've reversed my downvote as apparantly answering the way you did is accepted on Photo.SE. However, taking into account the level of experience of the OP I think this answer is not very helpful as it immediately dives into the details of long-exposure photography and doesn't even mention that it's possible to do. Jul 24 '14 at 15:44

While noise is a concern, Sometimes, you do need a bit longer than 30", depending on your lighting conditions. You can use a remote to expose for long periods of time in Bulb mode. I downloaded a remote app to my phone, and it works perfect. Set your camera to Bulb. Set to Remote. Then use the remote to fire. The shutter will stay open until you depress the shutter again, using the remote.

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