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ELECTRONICS - [Nikon MC-22 Control]

Nikon MC-22 Control


Many Nikon cameras can be triggered with a remote control. This can be useful to create pictures that wouldn't be possible without remote control. For this reason many Nikon cameras are equipped with a 10-pin remote connector. There are several kind of cables you can plug into this connector. One of them is the Nikon MC-22:

The MC-22 is interesting because it has an end with 3 banana plugs. This creates a lot of possibilities to create your own custom application/trigger.

Secure remote control

The MC-22 has three different banana plugs: a blue, a yellow and a black one. You just need to connect them together to create a photo. The order is important:

  1. First connect the blue with the black plug.
  2. Now connect these blue+black plugs together with the yellow plug.

As you can see it is very easy to use the MC-22. But Nikon cameras are usually expensive, so you might want to protect its electronics from any possible damage through this MC-22. This can be done by using two optocouplers and two resistors:

The above circuit has two optocouplers. They provide an electrical isolation between your electronics and the camera's electronics. The outputs of the optocouplers can be enabled by applying a DC voltage at the inputs (respect the polarity!). The value of RX1 and RX2 should be calculated because they depend on the desired input voltage. You can calculate the required resistor values with this formula:


First you need to apply a voltage to the upper circuit (HALF-PRESS). This will bring your camera out of standby mode. Then you need to power the lower circuit as well. The camera will now take a picture (FULL-PRESS). If the camera is in continuous mode it will keep making photos until you stop powering the circuit.


There are a lot of useful applications for a remote trigger. For instance wild life photography. You could use a motion sensor to trigger your camera: if an animal comes nearby the camera takes a picture.

Another example is insect/macro photography. You can create a certain setup with a infrared/laser beam. The camera can be triggered when an flying insect interrupts the infrared beam (this would mean the insect is at the right distance).

Burning Resistor example

I bought my MC-22 to try some experimental photography where timing is important.

In a first test I burned a little 0.25 W resistor with a 10 Amp current. The result was quite spectacular: I expected some smoke, no real flames! Under certain circumstances this could definately lead to dangerous situations. The smoke may also be toxic so my advise is: do not try this yourself. I usually don't burn up components for fun: I like to design, not to destroy things.

The pictures were taken with my Nikon D300, which was mounted on a tripod. I used a 150 mm macro lens to get a good close up of the resistor. The scene was lighted by some halogene spots.

Actually everything was remote computer controlled: Both camera and resistor were operated by a computer, this allowed me to stay at a safe distance. I used the Velleman K8055 interface board for this. The shutter was controlled with the optocoupler circuit I explained earlier on this page. The resistor was controlled with a power MOSFET, acting as a switch.

The D300 was setup to take multiple shots at a rate of 6 fps. One of the resulting images can be seen below. As you can see it ended up pretty bad for the resistor! I also converted all of the taken pictures into a YouTube movie.

One last note: there is no real challange in burning a resistor while taking a lot of pictures. My ultimate goal is to try to create 1 single picture of an event, at the exact right moment. For now I am not sure what the possibilities are: The Nikon D300 is a fast camera, but it still has some shutter lag (the delay before the picture is actually taken).

Copyright ©1998-2022 Vanderhaegen Bart - last modified: August 24, 2013