A camera, a computer, a cable, and some software. That’s basically it. I’ve been shooting tethered a lot this year for primarily for client work and find it extraordinary helpful for a few reasons:
- It eliminates people helicoptering around me to catch a glimpse of my camera’s tiny LCD. Instead they may congregate around a lovely, big display.
- You can instantly start backing up your footage.
- You’ll get instant feedback on your frames and therefore be better able to make in-camera adjustments.
Getting feedback is the most important of the above reasons. While shooting I’d prefer to receive real-time feedback so that I can adjust my shots accordingly. This will save a tremendous amount of time later. Especially with preventing me from overshooting. Once a frame comes in that everyone is excited about and know that it’s the one, I’ll stop shooting and move on to the next subject.
For all shooters, I encourage you to give tethering a try on your next shoot.
Essentials to Get Started
This is pretty self-explanatory. To get set up you’ll first need a camera that has an input for tethering. My D800 uses USB 3.0.
Shooting to a computer is the best way to keep people from hovering over your shoulder while simultaneously setting up a centralized location for everyone including you, the talent, the team, and the client to get instant feedback on the shots that are coming in. For recent gigs I’ve been using the 27in Dell AIO Intel sent to me earlier this summer (thank you Intel!) over my tiny 13in laptop.
Tethering to a small laptop sufficiently works …but it’s not 27 inches of glorious, high-definition display! A large display is crucial because it brings out all the minute details. For this particular job I was photographing watches and noticed on the screen that they were covered in dust!
I quickly used a lens wipe on the watch’s face after reviewing the dust. It’s always better to do things in camera than in post. Taking 5 minutes here and there during the actual shoot could potentially save you hours in post.
For a while I was using Adobe Lightroom for tethering. It was great initially. The user interface was intuitive and familiar, but its downfall was the amount of lag I experienced.
Nowadays I’m primarily using CaptureOne. The user interface is a little weird in addition to its foreign shortcut hotkeys, but it’s amazingly fast and reliable for transferring my files from camera to computer. It can do just about everything else Lightroom can, but better (sorry Lightroom.) Additionally you can set up CaptureOne to back up the files into another hard drive as they get delivered.
Speaking of software, one feature from the Dell AIO that I was thoroughly surprised with was the build in Snap feature by Windows. The feature is a quick and easy way to resize open windows by dragging them to the edges of the screen. For my workflow I like opening two windows from whichever program I’m tethering off of. One window is dedicated to viewing the frames that come in from the camera, the other is dedicated to previewing a file. Then I snap them side by side.
I was even surprised by ease of using a touch screen monitor was for tethering. More and more we’re growing to inherently use finger gestures to browse and consume media. The Dell AIO’s touch screen lets me treat the monitor like a giant smart phone. To zoom in on a photo I’m working on I can just pinch the screen.
Clients and other team members tend to like this feature too. I can’t tell you how many times my laptop and monitors get poked.
I’m still using the original cable that my camera came with because Nikon includes a nifty lock to hold the cable securely in place. Most cables includes with camera are usually pretty short and not conducive to work related situations. I remedy this fallback with a 16′ USB 3.0 Extension Cable.
There are wireless options available, but so far I haven’t found one that fit my flow. Too much trouble-shooting and connectivity issues –especially if your raw files are coming in at around 50mb per file. I’ll stick with a cable running to and from my camera and computer for now.
#spon: I am in a partnership with Intel. Through this partnership I gain access to content, product, or other forms of value.