Can the iPad be used to do tethered shooting with a digital slr?

apple ipad

The short answer for now is no. I don’t understand why anyone would want to tether this thing to a camera in the first place. Would you tether a digital photo frame to a camera? To do tethered shooting, you need all of the following:

  • A means to connect camera to the tether device. Sure the iPad has a $29 optional usb port but its functionality is probably very limited.
  • Software support. If the Apple Politburo has not approved it, it’s not happening.
  • Somewhere to store the images. Where are you going to store all those images on the 16GB version. I’m thinking you might have 1 GB free after you install everything.

I read somewhere that someone was thinking of using the iPad as a live review device during a shoot. Well to make this work, you’ll have to tether your camera to a laptop, write some kind of script to post those images to a local webpage, and then use the iPad to browse that page. I think I’ll stick to tethering a laptop using Adobe Lightroom.

Update: OnOne Software, the maker of DSLR Camera Remote confirms their software will have limited functionality with the iPad but it requires a computer in the connection so I’m not sure what’s the point of having the iPad attached when you already have a computer attached.

  • I have to disagree – I can’t wait until someone comes up with a tethered solution for the ipad – if I could plug my camera into the ipad by usb – then set the camera to store raw on the compact flash and just send a jpeg to the ipad screen for checking lighting/colour etc on a large screen!!!

    The software already exists for the iphone/ipad to control the camera – DSLR Remote Professional Edition from onOne software is an iPhone app that lets you control your DSLR camera through your iPhone, including LiveView. http://www.appsafari.com/remote/9168/dslr-remote-pro/ depending on the camera you have it even lets you focus and change all the camera settings via the iphone screen – so all you would need is a single shot stored on the phone/pad at any time then as you shoot it replaces with the next one – knowing that the raw is safe and sound on the camera card.

    On location and in the studio – this solution would give you an elegant solution to keep your client/subject/art director connected to the shoot whilst remaining portable and cost effective. I can’t lug my imac 27 all over the place and I don’t want to lay out on another laptop – plus I think the ipad will make an awesome portfolio to show of all those finished photos after editing.

    For concert photography – having my camera held high on a monopod whilst seeing the image and focusing it from an ipad would completely change my perspective at festivals for example – and there’s so many other great uses like weird angle shots where you just can’t get your face down to the viewfinder…

    Please someone make it possible!

    • patyuen

      For the things you describe, you’ll be better off with the HP Slate. It’ll do all those things out of the box with Adobe LightRoom and it has a HDMI out if you want to connect it to a flatscreen TV later. No need to wait and hope.

      • me

        hp slate is a piece of crap. Dumb article.

        • patyuen

          You must have been the only person who got their hands on the HP Slate as it was never produced.

      • LJCS

        Seem like a Apple hater to me man.

  • I have to disagree – I can’t wait until someone comes up with a tethered solution for the ipad – if I could plug my camera into the ipad by usb – then set the camera to store raw on the compact flash and just send a jpeg to the ipad screen for checking lighting/colour etc on a large screen!!!

    The software already exists for the iphone/ipad to control the camera – DSLR Remote Professional Edition from onOne software is an iPhone app that lets you control your DSLR camera through your iPhone, including LiveView. http://www.appsafari.com/remote/9168/dslr-remote-pro/ depending on the camera you have it even lets you focus and change all the camera settings via the iphone screen – so all you would need is a single shot stored on the phone/pad at any time then as you shoot it replaces with the next one – knowing that the raw is safe and sound on the camera card.

    On location and in the studio – this solution would give you an elegant solution to keep your client/subject/art director connected to the shoot whilst remaining portable and cost effective. I can’t lug my imac 27 all over the place and I don’t want to lay out on another laptop – plus I think the ipad will make an awesome portfolio to show of all those finished photos after editing.

    For concert photography – having my camera held high on a monopod whilst seeing the image and focusing it from an ipad would completely change my perspective at festivals for example – and there’s so many other great uses like weird angle shots where you just can’t get your face down to the viewfinder…

    Please someone make it possible!

    • patyuen

      For the things you describe, you’ll be better off with the HP Slate. It’ll do all those things out of the box with Adobe LightRoom and it has a HDMI out if you want to connect it to a flatscreen TV later. No need to wait and hope.

      • me

        hp slate is a piece of crap. Dumb article.

        • patyuen

          You must have been the only person who got their hands on the HP Slate as it was never produced.

  • I bought the HP little laptop/tablet 2 yrs ago – where you can twist the screen round to make it into a touch screen tablet – but to be honest I was really disappointed – fell apart just after it ran out of warranty and was always going wrong and failing. I took it to shoot Reading Festival last year – and ended up having to borrow other peoples laptops to get my shots up. The slate version might be more robust I suppose. I’ll check out the costs/specs on the slate cheers.

    • LJCS

      I had a friend that had this same problem. I’m open to Windows and Apple products.. I started off with a Toshiba Laptop Tablet and loved it but that was back in the days of WindowsXp… Now in days I feel Windows is slacking. The reason I keep going back to apple vs windows products is because when they release a product its not half assed just to see how many will fall for their prototype. True Windows 7 is a lot better and is working just fine but really Windows Vista should of been Windows 7. None of this is towards you of course Adam. I’m tired of people being closed minded about products when they don’t know the half of it. In good time someone will figure out how to get around to opening the ability to having the setting.. I can wait because its worth the wait…No need to rush things. Spend money right the first time.

  • I bought the HP little laptop/tablet 2 yrs ago – where you can twist the screen round to make it into a touch screen tablet – but to be honest I was really disappointed – fell apart just after it ran out of warranty and was always going wrong and failing. I took it to shoot Reading Festival last year – and ended up having to borrow other peoples laptops to get my shots up. The slate version might be more robust I suppose. I’ll check out the costs/specs on the slate cheers.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    > you’ll be better off with the HP Slate.
    > No need to wait and hope.

    HP Slate has not even shipped. It does not exist. Talk about waiting and hoping!

    Even if it does ship, it weights 2x iPad and has half the battery life. It does not have an IPS screen that can be viewed from any angle. Or the perfect color and instantaneous touch response of iPad. And you have to admin Windows, you need anti-virus, same old story. Ugh.

    > Apple politburo

    Apps have access to the iPad USB cable in the dock connector. There is no reason why a 3rd party app cannot tether a camera if the function is not already built-in.

    > Adobe LightRoom

    Does not run on mobiles. So you’re talking 2x weight and half the battery life, and the lack of iPad’s touchscreen.

    You can keep recommending the same old PC over iPad until you’re blue in the face. iPad and a PC are very different devices.

    • patyuen

      I recommend tethering with a laptop. For those who must try to tether with a tablet, neither the iPad nor the HP Slate will do it now. However, the HP Slate will be able to do it once it ships this summer. I’m betting there will not be a functional iPad app that will support tethering DSLR by this summer. As for the weight, the specs have already been leaked and the HP Slate will be marginally lighter than the iPad, not twice as heavy. The 5 hour battery life may be an issue for some but I don’t think there will be too many people who need 10 hours of continuous outdoor tethering time.

  • Hamranhansenhansen

    > you’ll be better off with the HP Slate.
    > No need to wait and hope.

    HP Slate has not even shipped. It does not exist. Talk about waiting and hoping!

    Even if it does ship, it weights 2x iPad and has half the battery life. It does not have an IPS screen that can be viewed from any angle. Or the perfect color and instantaneous touch response of iPad. And you have to admin Windows, you need anti-virus, same old story. Ugh.

    > Apple politburo

    Apps have access to the iPad USB cable in the dock connector. There is no reason why a 3rd party app cannot tether a camera if the function is not already built-in.

    > Adobe LightRoom

    Does not run on mobiles. So you’re talking 2x weight and half the battery life, and the lack of iPad’s touchscreen.

    You can keep recommending the same old PC over iPad until you’re blue in the face. iPad and a PC are very different devices.

    • patyuen

      I recommend tethering with a laptop. For those who must try to tether with a tablet, neither the iPad nor the HP Slate will do it now. However, the HP Slate will be able to do it once it ships this summer. I’m betting there will not be a functional iPad app that will support tethering DSLR by this summer. As for the weight, the specs have already been leaked and the HP Slate will be marginally lighter than the iPad, not twice as heavy. The 5 hour battery life may be an issue for some but I don’t think there will be too many people who need 10 hours of continuous outdoor tethering time.

  • Paul

    Is there greater value in tethering a dslr to ipad via Bluetooth versus USB cable? What about a relay function via wi fi to your desktop for the images?

    • patyuen

      There are many ways to tether and many definitions. In a fully functional tethering system, you should be able to control basic camera functions and transfer the files to the device. Such is possible a laptop and supported software like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. The connection is usually usb or firewire. I know of no Bluetooth system to do this. It’s just not fast enough.

      Another method is a kind of quasi tethering. In such a setup, you might have basic camera control but image files are not transferred. You might see a small jpg preview. Essentially, you’re using the device as a large lcd preview screen. There have been attempts to do this with an iphone app but the reviews say it does not work well or work at all.

      Still another option is to send the files via wireless networking using an EyeFi card or a camera’s ethernet add on to a server. From there, you can use whatever you want to preview the files.

  • Paul

    Is there greater value in tethering a dslr to ipad via Bluetooth versus USB cable? What about a relay function via wi fi to your desktop for the images?

    • patyuen

      There are many ways to tether and many definitions. In a fully functional tethering system, you should be able to control basic camera functions and transfer the files to the device. Such is possible a laptop and supported software like Adobe Lightroom or Capture One. The connection is usually usb or firewire. I know of no Bluetooth system to do this. It’s just not fast enough.

      Another method is a kind of quasi tethering. In such a setup, you might have basic camera control but image files are not transferred. You might see a small jpg preview. Essentially, you’re using the device as a large lcd preview screen. There have been attempts to do this with an iphone app but the reviews say it does not work well or work at all.

      Still another option is to send the files via wireless networking using an EyeFi card or a camera’s ethernet add on to a server. From there, you can use whatever you want to preview the files.

  • I would disagree with Pat a bit here. Several people I’ve
    spoken too would love to tether with the iPad. Its a
    feature I bet many of the clones may have through a
    Android app.

    Its a feature along with lack of USB ports, SD card reader and
    or CF reader that I wish that Apple had included. I am
    a Apple fan and use Macbooks. While, I like the iPad its
    lack of Flash support. No USB and SD slot and price have me
    looking at the clones.

    • patyuen

      It depends on how you define tethering. The iPad cannot tether in the traditional sense. It has no hard drive and does not support external hard drives. There is nowhere for the files to go. So even if you manage to get it working, you’ll just end up with a very expensive big lcd screen to preview your images. Will some people want that? Sure. Some people will pay $8000 for a top of the line dslr to shoot their kids too.

      It’s possible a year from now, the great Jobs will go on stage and announce iPad2 with hard drive support. The world will rejoice as if this was some innovative concept. Six months later, someone might make an app to do tethering. But way before that happens, someone will have already done it on the Android clone tablets. I can see spending $100 for a cheap Android tablet to serve as a lcd preview. That’s a no brainer. I would be very surprised if that capability is not available in the next 6 months.

      • LJCS

        Pat I agree with you in your second paragraph.. thats technology for you. Of course the second iPad will be better due to that they have sent out the first as a feeler to see what the pros and cons are. This is with anything new. As far as the first paragraph goes.. I’m not for sure if you know the full functions of a iPod/iPad and how it works. Going back to the 30gb ipod I know for a fact you can use like a external hard drive. True its more like a flash drive but still the concept is the same.
        And as far as the comment about “chimper” You remind me of a grad schooler.. I dare you to say you never did that and that you are gods gift to photography. Everyone has done it until they remember the settings and are comfortable with it. So any way thats my two cents..

        • When I say no hard drive support, I’m not saying you cannot save files to the ipad. Of course you can. How else would you get apps and movies on there? I mean there is no hard drive support in that you cannot attach a 1 TB hard drive to it. As far as chimping, there’s nothing wrong with it. I’d rather chimp on a $100 tablet than a $800 tablet assuming we are talking about the iPad for that specific purpose.As the the second iPad being better, it will not be better because Apple learned from the first one. It will be better because that is the iPad they intentionally held back to first release an iPad with lesser features to permit an upgrade path. It’s the same path they took with iPhones.

  • I would disagree with Pat a bit here. Several people I’ve
    spoken too would love to tether with the iPad. Its a
    feature I bet many of the clones may have through a
    Android app.

    Its a feature along with lack of USB ports, SD card reader and
    or CF reader that I wish that Apple had included. I am
    a Apple fan and use Macbooks. While, I like the iPad its
    lack of Flash support. No USB and SD slot and price have me
    looking at the clones.

    • patyuen

      It depends on how you define tethering. The iPad cannot tether in the traditional sense. It has no hard drive and does not support external hard drives. There is nowhere for the files to go. So even if you manage to get it working, you’ll just end up with a very expensive big lcd screen to preview your images. Will some people want that? Sure. Some people will pay $8000 for a top of the line dslr to shoot their kids too.

      It’s possible a year from now, the great Jobs will go on stage and announce iPad2 with hard drive support. The world will rejoice as if this was some innovative concept. Six months later, someone might make an app to do tethering. But way before that happens, someone will have already done it on the Android clone tablets. I can see spending $100 for a cheap Android tablet to serve as a lcd preview. That’s a no brainer. I would be very surprised if that capability is not available in the next 6 months.

  • me again

    patyuen, wow, you have no idea what you are talking about. the only purpose of tethering is realtime checking of photos at the shoot. a 64 gb ipad would be fine for that if there was a tethering app. why the hell would somebody buy a shitty slate and deal with that heavy no battery crap when all they need is a monitor and a storage drive.seriously, this si one of the dumbest articles i’ve read in a long time. you obviously don’t shoot seriously, or at all.

    • patyuen

      I guess if you are a chimper, that would the only purpose to have a view only device that cannot store photos. Do your research. The Slate was never produced.

  • me again

    patyuen, wow, you have no idea what you are talking about. the only purpose of tethering is realtime checking of photos at the shoot. a 64 gb ipad would be fine for that if there was a tethering app. why the hell would somebody buy a shitty slate and deal with that heavy no battery crap when all they need is a monitor and a storage drive.seriously, this si one of the dumbest articles i’ve read in a long time. you obviously don’t shoot seriously, or at all.

    • patyuen

      I guess if you are a chimper, that would the only purpose to have a view only device that cannot store photos. Do your research. The Slate was never produced.

  • Mike

    Ive been a commercial photographer for 25 years, shooting everything from cars to fashion to products. The ability to shoot tethered to an ipad a bunch of shots and then simply untether and hand the ipad to the ad agency art director to work through a series of shots would be extremely helpful to me. I currently shoot tethered to a laptop on location and often I need to leave an art director and the client to go through shots. They can do this on a laptop but the ability to walk around or to their own work space with an ipad with all the added functionality of rotating the ipad and finger zooming etc without having to huddle around a laptop would add a little bit more to my work process for my clients.
    I do find it amazing that for a so called creative industry so many photographers lack creativity when looking at the possibilities of how creative use of an ipad could enhance your business with respect to your clients experience.

    • Pat

      You are using a fantasy scenario to respond to a reality situation. The reality is you cannot currently tether an iPad. Even if you manage to overcome that limitation, how are you going to overcome the limited storage?

      • Michael B in Tampa

        Limited storage? I have the 64GB version, but even a 32GB would work well in the situation described. It would be extremely helpful to be able to display a photo on the big ipad screen immediately after it was taken. This definitely engages the client as much as people like to typically see their picture after you take it.
        I used my iPad last weekend when traveling. All of my memory cards were completely full and I had a few more shots I needed. I downloaded the entire capacity of a 8GB card to the iPad (including movie files), formatted the card, and kept shooting. Once I got home I simply pulled off the files as if it was a flash drive. The transfer didn’t take too long from my camera, but it would still be nice to allow one to review a file right after the image was captured.

        If you worked with clients on a regular basis, you would actually understand why tethering can be a very useful thing. Now I just download pictures after the shoot to show them, but the d/l time is a hassle. Tethering would solve this.

        • You must be replying to another article that states tethering is a bad idea and somehow your comment ended up here.

          Here are the choices as it applies to tethering.

          1. Spend $700-$830 + $29 and hope you will be able to tether some day and download about 8 gb.

          2. Spend $200 for a netbook and start tethering as soon as it’s out of the box and download over 200 gb.

          • No, he’s replying to “I don’t understand why anyone would want to tether this thing to a camera in the first place. Would you tether a digital photo frame to a camera?”

            You open this very blog post with the point-blank statement that tethering is a bad idea.

          • I don’t know how to state it any simpler. Tethering a photo frame to a camera is a bad idea. Especially if you have to spend $800 to get a very large lcd. That is the current state of the technology.

            Now if you want to talk about a fantasy scenario where you can tether an iPad or another tablet to a dslr, be able to control it, and have it download the images and store it into some other high capacity hard drive, we can come up with any kind of wish list scenarios. Hell, I want that fantasy device to be able to process all my raw images and upload to Flickr with one touch.

            Unfortunately, that device dos not exist. Can’t do it with the iPad or any other tablet. Here’s what does exist. A $500 to $800 tablet that can be tethered to a dslr as long as there is another notebook attached in the loop.

            Now if you want to tether a netbook to a dslr with Lightroom and be able to download up to 250gb of images and have it processed in Lightroom, that technology does exist. It’ll cost about $250. Will it do touchscreen? Of course not. But this article is not about iPad and how it can surf the web. It’s about iPad tethering to a dslr.

            So again, $500-$800 iPad: Can’t tether unless you add a notebook. $250 netbook: can tether.
            Fantasy device: $$$$ Don’t know what it cost and you can make up any feature you want.

  • Kbc777

    Done
    http://**spamlink removed**

    • That is just lame. Using a Eyefi card to send images to a web server and then using the ipad to pull images back from the web server is not tethering.

      Your link was removed because it contained a referred id in the vendor link.

  • Jpurdam

    It is as simple as getting the app shutter snitch which turns your ipad into a wireless hot spot. I use a method of first tethering to capture one, a software by Phase One, then that will wirelessly send the images onto the ipad, they do not store there they are just saved on the SSD’s ram then deleted when the program closes.

  • Robert

    You could use it to automate focus, use it to automate shooting, use it to set record without touching camera and causing it to deviate by having to push the button, do time-lapse or stop motion with layovers.   There are tons of reason why to tether the camera to an iPad.  Someone needs to stop asking why would any one do it and just do it already.  Let the market figure out if it is worthwhile.  What if someone said, “Why would I want to have a hand held comp?”  The storage problem will sort it self out eventually.  Remember the 1 gig iPod.