episode 29, computer tethered digital photo capture


“How do I shoot tethered to my computer with a digital SLR?” That is possibly the most oft-asked question here at prophotolife.com. In most every instructional video I’m watching a computer monitor to view the images as they’re shot so it only makes sense that we give the process a look.

If your photography allows it this is a great way to view a large histogram and to check critical sharpness of the photos enlarged to 100%. The files can be easily managed and the good ones immediately tagged as you shoot. Small, hidden details become visible. For our commercial photo studio this is definitely the hot setup. And here’s a little bonus: the Canon software allows automatic captures at predetermined intervals for time lapse photography!

Shooting tethered can be both simple and complicated. The process (once you have it setup) is quite simple both in principle and execution. The complicated part can be figuring out what “capture” software will work with your particular SLR. If you have the latest, greatest camera model there may not be anything on the market that will work with it quite yet. The software developers can be a few steps behind the hardware developers at times so definitely check to make that your particular model is supported, regardless of what software you‘re interested in.

Subscribers view video here:

I’ve used Canon, Nikon and Fuji cameras tethered with great results. I’m honestly not current on how the other manufacturers handle tethered capture but I believe Sony, Pentax, Fuji and Olympus package some sort of capture software with their cameras (as does Canon). Nikon asks that you buy their software in order to shoot tethered (Amazon stocks the Nikon Camera Control Pro 2 Software Full Version for Nikon DSLR Cameras). If you’re currently shooting tethered it would be great to hear how you handle the connection, what camera brand and model you’re using and what software.

Because I own Canon cameras and they include capture software with the new cameras that’s what I’ve used in the video (it was easy and accessible). It was necessary, though, to update my software to the latest versions after loading (by searching the Canon USA consumer support site). You can use both the Canon’s software and Nikon Capture for Vista, XP, 2000 and Mac OS X.

Think of tethered capture as two different jobs being accomplished:

1. The tethered capture of images to a folder on your hard drive
2. The viewing of those captures in a viewing and processing software that reads that folder. It can be either part of, or independent from, the capture software.

I’ve mentioned the camera manufacturer’s softwares. There are some popular, full-featured third-party softwares that do both of the above jobs, they both capture and allow image processing:

If one of these softwares supports your camera (here’s the big disclaimer: ALWAYS check to make sure your camera is supported) then you should be good to go.

Some photographers really like to use the capture software from their camera manufacturer and then read the folder and manage the files as they shoot with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom! This “hybrid” method is very popular and gives great control (it is especially popular with local Nikon users, I‘ve noticed).

Most cameras shoot tethered using USB 2.0 cables, check to make sure you’re not using Firewire. If so, you’ll want to use complimentary Firewire extension cables. The USB cables mentioned in the video (in addition to the one supplied with your camera) are a 10-foot USB 2.0 Extension Cable and a USB Repeater Cable LSZH – 16ft/5m.

Okay, that’s as much as I can cover on the topic in one Monday, if you have anything to share or contribute please let us know and thanks in advance!