Does this sound familiar? You shoot a few photos, pull the card and put it in the computer with a card reader to preview the images. It’s painstaking, and frankly takes too long. Your model will be sitting there yawning and texting friends versus being engaged in a shoot.
This, my friends, is a time when shooting tethered makes the most sense. In your new home photography studio!
Shooting tethered is when your camera is connected via USB cable to a computer or a laptop.
Almost every DSLR made is capable of doing this with the included USB cable and software, alternatively Lightroom 4 supports tethered mode for most modern cameras. Follow the directions with the software that came with your camera to import or configure Lightroom 4 to do it for you. When done this way, the images will be flying off your camera to your computer so you can quickly review them.
Be sure to consider your cable length.
Most cables that come with cameras are only five of six feet long, which is not long enough for a studio application. You will need to extend the length of your cable. But to do this you need a USB extension, and one with what’s called a “repeater.” USB cables are really only good for about 15 feet, and 15 feet is still not enough length.
My suggestion is to work with two 15 foot long cables; just be careful not to trip over the cable, yank it out of the computer or camera.
Don’t tape it to the camera or laptop either. I have seen the hard tugging on a tapped tether cord ruin a connection. It’s just better to work with the cord and always have it hang to one side and deal with it like you are mowing your lawn with an electric lawn mower.
Also, when you place your computer or laptop so you can see the images make sure that it is secure.
For example, use velcro straps to secure it to a table off to the side.
Depending upon if you are shooting RAW or JPG, and the camera you have, it can take a few seconds to 20 seconds for images to appear. I take half a dozen shots, and then look at what has appeared on my computer, make adjustments, and go back to shooting. It’s much faster and far more productive than pulling a card and putting it into a computer.
Another option to shooting physically tethered with USB cables is utilizing Eye-Fi technology.
These are memory cards that can transmit wirelessly to your computer. But to be honest, in real world situations the transfer rates are slower than a tethered cable. Plus, you cannot always count on a Wi-Fi network to be available where you are shooting: the kids could be eating up all the bandwidth, someone’s watching a movie, or your ever reliable home Internet service is as slow as molasses.
You can get around that, but you’ll need to buy a wireless router that is pre-configured as a private network. Then you'll be ready to go. But do you really want to get that technical?
Try both, or talk to friends that shoot with both methods to find out which is best for you. Personally, I shoot with tethered cable and just get into the habit of watching the cord.