How to shoot tethered

shooting tether

Tethered shooting is a popular photo photography technique practiced by photographers who work in a studio a lot. It is normally associated with high-end work when you need to instantly see your photos and videos. You may even have an assistant sitting at a desk looking at the photos as they pop up on the computer screen.

How to shoot tethered has traditionally been associated with high value goods, but thanks to new techniques, it is now more widespread. An increasing number of photographers are using the technique.

What Is Tethered Shooting All About?

Tethered shooting has certainly come a long way since the early days. New technology makes tethered shooting much more common than it used to be. It is now more or less the go-to option for product photographers who do a lot of commercial work.

Advances in technology mean that photos can instantly appear on your smartphone, computer, or tablet. You can use a cable or even a camera with a built-in Wi-Fi function. An increasing number of cameras come with wireless and Wi-Fi technology which makes shooting tethered even easier.

The Pros of Tethered Shooting

The main benefit is that you can instantly see the result of your photograph. Does that look good or do you want to delete it?  Of course, having an assistant to work with on a tethered shoot is a great bonus. He or she can instantly tell you when a photograph looks good or when it doesn’t.

Clients are sometimes present during tethered shoots. The technique gives them a chance to observe the photographic process. Many clients who are new to product photography find the process interesting. It is nice to see a photograph of your product appear on a screen in a matter of seconds.

Of course, you can also make adjustments when you are doing tethered shooting. If you think that something about the set up does not look right once the image appears on screen, you can change it.

You don’t have to worry about waiting until the end of the process to adjust your set up or lighting.

Tethering computer software can help you to make quick small changes. You still want to go through your images in post production, but tethering still allows you to save time. If an idea pops into your head, you can quickly change the image and see how it works. You can even change the setting on the camera in tethering software programs.

The Cons of Tethered Shooting

It is easy to get caught up in the images that appear on the screen. Many photographers find that doing a tethered session distracts them from the job at hand. That simply means they feel themselves being drawn to the computer screen instead of working with the camera.

On a more practical level, tethering can wreak havoc with the batteries in your camera and device. It is best to have batteries on standby and be ready to plug in your laptop.

Before you take on a professional shoot using tethering, you want to practise. The software is often a bit “touchy.” Fortunately, thanks to wireless cameras, modern software is better and less glitchy. Still, it is an acquired taste and maybe not for all photographers.

What Do You Need For A Camera Tethered Shoot In Your Studio or Outside?

Traditionally, tethering meant having a cable connected to your camera. Built-in Wi-Fi technology has cut down on the use of cables, but it is still a good idea to have a cable handy.

Just like Wi-Fi printing, you need to be prepared for the connection not working. If you are thinking about buying a new camera and use it during tethered shoots, make sure that it will work with your laptop or computer. Currently, the focus is very much on tethering to a tablet or phone.

What Is The Best Tethering Software?

capture-one-pro
Capture one pro

The best tethering software is Adobe Lightroom, but there are others. The top feature of Adobe Lightroom is that it can support more than one brand of camera.

If you have a Mac, other programs are available for instantly viewing or retouching your photos.

The most popular programs include:

  • Adobe Lightroom
  • Capture One Pro
  • Helicon Remote
  • Darktable
  • TetherPro

Is It Difficult To Set Up?

How to shoot tethered is not difficult to set up, but can be frustrating when you are new to it.

The best thing that you can do, is to take it slow and go through the process. Practice before the shoot and make sure that you are happy with what you are doing.

Adobe’s Lightroom has a special feature called Tethered Capture. Out of all of the options available, it is the simplest one to set up. This is how to do it:

  • Start by connecting the camera to the laptop – use a USB cable or the camera’s built-in Wi-Fi.
  • Switch on camera tethered function in Lightroom.
  • Choose your settings – you will find Lightroom has a host of different settings. If you are new to using Lightroom, make sure you know where your photos are going to be saved.

One of the most common niggles with Lightroom is that the program seems to have a problem finding the connected camera. Often, it is better to use a cable than using the camera’s Wi-Fi function. It is less time-consuming and some photographers argue that images produced when using a cable are of better quality.

Is Tethering Right For All Jobs?

Tethering is not right for all jobs. For instance, if you are working with larger objects such as cars, tethering is often a complete waste of time.

When you shoot large objects, there is simply too much going on in the image. When you look at the photo on the screen, you will often find that you don’t know where to focus.  Lifestyle photography is not a good fit for tethering either. Once again, it is hard to “digest” the image produced by the camera.

Working outside is perhaps not the best use of tethering. The technique is simply too limited. You will find that you will go through endless battery packs and charging your device will be a nightmare.

Which Camera is Best For Tethering?

When it comes to working with a camera tethered, there are some cameras that are better than others.  Both Nikon and Canon are popular with photographers who like to use the technique. An increasing number of manufacturers that produce cameras for professionals are working on making tethering easier.

Our world is now so rich in images, and they are vital to us that manufacturers have caught onto the fact that we want to work with images faster. You can even buy special tripods and studio stands that hold both a camera and a device. They are popular with photographers who are shooting smaller items and instantly want to view images.

capture-one-pro-tethered
Capture One Pro live view Tethered

Why Should You Learn How To Tether?

It is not uncommon for photographers to feel restricted when their camera is tethered to a device. The immediate transfer of images is appealing to photographers. When you have been in the industry for a while, you are probably used to working with photo editing. Seeing your photographs in a calibrated program will give you a better feel for the product you are photographing.

Photographers who are experienced with tethering often say it has made them better photographers. Once you have seen a couple of your photographs on screen, you may start to think about how you are working with your camera and the setup.

The main advantage is that you don’t have to download the images after a shoot. They are already available on your device for you to start working with when you put down your camera.

Another main pro is the large preview screen. So much easier than flicking through your images on the camera screen.

Large View Of Photos

One of the main benefits of tethering is that you can quickly view the images on a screen.  Let’s be honest, even the best of us find it hard to see images on a professional camera screen.

Sitting down in front of your computer for a few minutes during the shoot can make a lot of difference.  As all photographers know, images are meant to tell a story. Are your photos telling a story or making the point that the client is looking for?

When you look at the images, put yourself in the mind of the client, or even the consumer. Would the photos that you are in the process of taking make you want to buy the product? Tethering can really make you see your photographs in a different way.

Unless you try it, you really are not going to know if you are going to like working with tethering. It is not the sort of photography practice that you get used to in five minutes. How to shoot tethered is something that you will get used to overtime.  When you finally do, and stop and think about it, you may realize that it has turned you into a better photographer. Just give it time.

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