Tethered Shooting with Adobe Lightroom and Canon DSLR

If you’ve ever watched America’s Next Top Model, you have no doubt seen them do photo shoots where the images appear on a monitor immediately after firing the shutter. You don’t need a big budget to shoot this way. All you need is a digital slr that supports tethered shooting such as the Canon DSLR series. Canon ships EOS Capture which supports shooting with the camera connected to a computer via USB 2 cable. You can take this one step further if you own Adobe Lightroom and have your images imported directly into Lightroom immediately after firing the shot. No additional software or hardware is needed. All you need is the software that shipped from Canon and the USB cable that came with your camera. It’s likely that the usb cable you have is too short to shoot with so you will need a 16 feet USB 2.0 active extension cable. There are many cables out there with dubious quality so I recommend going with Tripp Lite U026-016 USB2.0 16-Feet Certified Active Extension Cable for only $18 shipped.

The advantages of shooting tethered include:

  1. A huge display to evaluate your images for exposure, color temperature, focus, and composition. You are only limited by the size of your display.
  2. If you are working with other members of a creative team such as an art director, makeup artist, and stylist, they can easily evaluate the shots as they occur and make adjustments as required.
  3. In a teaching or workshop environment, it can be used as a teaching or demonstration tool.

The disadvantages of shooting tethered include:

  1. Slow write speed. It takes much longer to write a file to the computer via USB 2 cable. Once it writes the file, Lightroom still has to import it and apply the settings. It can take as long as 7 seconds between the time the shutter is fired to the time the image is displayed. For product shots, this is no problem but in a fast paced model shoot, this delay is unacceptable. A good compromise may be to shoot tethered initially until you are satisfied with the settings and then remove the cable and shoot without it. But keep in mind files are saved to your computer while tethered and saved to your card while disconnected so you’ll have to combine the files later.
    • 20D RAW file to EOS Viewer Only: 5 seconds
    • 20D RAW file to Lightroom: 7 seconds
  2. It is cumbersome to shoot while tethered to a computer because your movements are limited. A USB 2 cable is limited to a maximum length of 5 meters or 16 feet. While this may not be a problem for most shoots, it does limit the photographer’s freedom of movement.