Monday, November 10, 2008

why wait - shoot thethered

I originally intended to do today's post as a video; however, my body decided to fly right past the "getting sick" stage to arrive directly at head feels so huge it will explode, throat is scratchy, and nose is sniff ...sniff ...snif. So, for everyone's sake, today's tutorial will be text and photo based. Last night I did my second Reward Zone Event DSLR Demo and as I was setting up the laptop to the LCD TV and hooking the camera up to the laptop I thought - this would be great to blog! Tethered shooting is something that not everyone has exposure to so I figured it would be a good topic.

First things first - what is tethered shooting and why should we care? Tethered shooting allows a camera to transmit its photos directly to a computer rather than (or in addition) to a memory card. Once on the computer the image is displayed full screen. A lot of studio and portrait photographers use this technique to see the images on a higher quality, larger display real time. So why should we care? I have found it invaluable when teaching. Rather than having a group huddle around a small screen - everyone can enjoy the image on a TV or large monitor. The technique is also useful for any studio photography because the image is instantly viewable at 100% on a large display which more accurately represents the photo than the LCD on the back of the camera chiefly because of its size.

So, how do you set it up? There are two ways to set up tethered shooting: 1)wired 2)wireless. We are going to focus on wired tethering because it generally doesn't require you to buy anything (if you are a Canon shooter). You will need a few things:
  1. A camera that supports tethered shooting (most mainstream dSLRs and high end ultra-zooms
  2. USB cable for the camera (probably came in the box)
  3. A computer (doesn't need to be a super fast system)
  4. Tethering Software (this is where Nikon shooters have to pay)
The first thing you need to do is load the tethering software. Canon includes it on the software disk in their SLR cameras, it is called EOS Utility. Nikon users will need to download the software from Nikon's site. Nikon's tethering software can be used free for 30 days - so it won't cost you anything to try things out; however, if you add it to your workflow it will run you around $180. Once loaded plug the camera into the computer using the USB cable that probably came with your camera when you purchased it. I also add a few 6' USB extensions to give me freedom to wanter around but this is not required.

At this point go ahead and launch the capture program and connect the camera to the computer. The first time you set up the software you need to go into the preferences to tell the software where to save the images. Once this is done you are now set up to shoot tethered. I go one step further by sending the images into Lightroom. Adobe Photoshop Lightroom has the ability to automatically import photos froma "watched folder" which I setup as the same folder I set the capture software to save to. Now I can see images full screen and edit them on the fly as well.

The other option I mentioned was wireless. Wireless works the same way as wired; however, you need a wireless transmitter on you camera. Those are generally a little expensive. Most instances I have found the cable works just fine; however, if you want to cut the wires and be free go right ahead.

1 comment:

Raymond said...

For those like me who are Nikon / Windows shooters, and too cheap to buy Nikon's software -- I wrote a free script to do the basic tethered shooting functions.

You can get the latest version here:

Fancy it is not, but it is fun and usable to see what the process is like. Hope this helps someone even with the crude bugs I have!