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How to Tether a camera in Lightroom, shooting tethered

I have had numerous requests for a tutorial that shows how to tether or attach a camera in Lightroom. This video shows you exactly how to do it.

Tethering your camera to Lightroom during a studio shoot

What is tethering? Tethering is attaching your camera directly to to your computer using a cable. The advantage of this is the ability to see the Photographs on a larger screen while shooting.

If you just look at the screen at the back of your camera, you can’t even tell if things are really in focus without zooming in. When you tether your camera, you can see each image nice and large as you shoot. This gives you the flexibility to flip the screen around, so your model can see what’s happening. Seeing the photos onscreen can give the model more confidence, and also let them see what is working and what isn’t as far as their poses.

My Portrait and Tether Set up

When I shoot, I use my Canon 5D Mk3. I most commonly use a 50mm prime lens for my portrait work. I steer away from wider lenses as I hate the distorted look where everything loses its shape around the edge of the image. I also don’t like it when you get close to a model with a wider than 35mm and their noses become huge, or they steal Jay Leno’s chin. I find that 50mm is a good length that doesn’t distort the image.

Bang for the buck, I love my little Canon 50mm f1.4. It wasn’t too expensive and it has a very sharp image compared to a zoom lens. To buy a zoom that goes down to 1.4 would be very expensive. It’s also very light weight.

I shoot tethered to my Macbook pro. I have a tether tools, Aero table which sits on top of a tripod. You can angle the screen to face you and it also comes with a strap that keep the computer from slipping off the surface. I use a long USB cable that goes from my camera to the computer. I use tether tools jerk stoppers, that prevent the cable coming out when you step on the cable (happens a lot more than you would think).

I love this little setup and always use this configuration when in the studio. In order to get my photographs to appar on my computer screen I go through Lightroom. You set up lightroom to start a tethered capture and it just starts working without any configuration (as long as you have a supported Canon or Nikon camera). For now, these are the only 2 brands that are supported. Make sure you download the latest Lightroom update to ensure it works on the newer cameras).

How tethering works in Lightroom

When you shoot with a tethered setup, the photo is still written to your card in your camera. It is also transferred down the cable and ingested into Lightroom. A copy is stored on your computer or attached external drive (you choose the location before shooting). Because of this redundancy, if you accidentally pull the cable out while shooting, the Photographs will still be in your camera on the card.

Things to watch for while shooting tethered in Lightroom

One of the caveats is speed. When shooting tethered, things can run a little slower than what you are used to. Under normal circumstances, this isn’t a huge deal. However if you are shooting rapidly, the buffer can fill up and you have to wait for Lightroom to catch up from time to time. If I get into a really good rhythm with my model an this happens, I just rip out the cable and keep shooting, because this on-set magic is more important to me and sometime hard to recreate this kind of chemistry with the model.

When tethering breaks because of a bug or the cable came out, you can’t just plug back in and keep shooting. You need to plug in and then restart the tethered capture. It doesn’t take long, but it has to be that sequence.

  1. Plug in
  2. start tethered capture

You don’t have to restart Lightroom or your computer.

I hope these little tips helped you out and don’t forget to watch the video to see how to do it. For more inDepth Lightroom learning, check out my in depth Lightroom CC training video.

PS Don’t forget to follow us on Social Media for more tips.. (I've been posting some fun Instagram and Facebook Stories lately)
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