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.
  • Richard

    Hey, how could i do this with a nikon camera!?
    thank?
    -Richard

  • Richard

    Hey, how could i do this with a nikon camera!?
    thank?
    -Richard

  • Ray

    Nikon Camera Control Pro doesn’t work with the D300, you must use Nikon Camera Control Pro 2.

  • Ray

    Nikon Camera Control Pro doesn’t work with the D300, you must use Nikon Camera Control Pro 2.

  • Have you tried tethered shooting with Bridge? With Bridge you are not importing to Lightroom (it just looks at the file tht has been download), so is it possible that this is faster than using Lightroom? Is this Lightroom tethering new with Lightroom2? I notice that Scott Kelby has included a couple of pages on this in his Lightroom2 book and I don’t believe that it was in his previous book. (He doesn’t identify the Lightroom2 changes, so you don’t know if this was not available before or he just decided to include in the new book).

  • Have you tried tethered shooting with Bridge? With Bridge you are not importing to Lightroom (it just looks at the file tht has been download), so is it possible that this is faster than using Lightroom? Is this Lightroom tethering new with Lightroom2? I notice that Scott Kelby has included a couple of pages on this in his Lightroom2 book and I don’t believe that it was in his previous book. (He doesn’t identify the Lightroom2 changes, so you don’t know if this was not available before or he just decided to include in the new book).

  • umm, is there any way to use tehered shooting without a CF card? am travelling and some moron broke the CF card pins in my camera, seems i cant shoot and transfer the images directly to my laptop if there’s no CF card

  • umm, is there any way to use tehered shooting without a CF card? am travelling and some moron broke the CF card pins in my camera, seems i cant shoot and transfer the images directly to my laptop if there’s no CF card

  • Ben

    Thanks for the post Pat

    @vijay – Assuming you are using a Canon, go into the menu settings and you can set to shoot without a cf card.

  • Ben

    Thanks for the post Pat

    @vijay – Assuming you are using a Canon, go into the menu settings and you can set to shoot without a cf card.

  • is adobe lightroom compatible with the 20d and vista 64?
    I know that with the 20d, eos capture 2.whatever, and vista 64 don’t and can’t work. So i’m hoping that adobe lightroom will be the cure.
    billy

  • is adobe lightroom compatible with the 20d and vista 64?
    I know that with the 20d, eos capture 2.whatever, and vista 64 don’t and can’t work. So i’m hoping that adobe lightroom will be the cure.
    billy

  • Glad to find the place which has same concept as mine. I will visit daily and hope to talk to you some.

  • Glad to find the place which has same concept as mine. I will visit daily and hope to talk to you some.

  • Kei5h

    I am trying to take pictures of a 11″ x 17″ book two pages at a time.
    What two cameras would you select?
    Can I hook up a USB cable to each camera and then tether the two cables
    to one computer?
    Does Lightroom 3 support that set-up?

    • patyuen

      I wouldn’t select two cameras. One camera will do the job. Why complicate things?

  • Kei5h

    I am trying to take pictures of a 11″ x 17″ book two pages at a time.
    What two cameras would you select?
    Can I hook up a USB cable to each camera and then tether the two cables
    to one computer?
    Does Lightroom 3 support that set-up?

    • patyuen

      I wouldn’t select two cameras. One camera will do the job. Why complicate things?

  • Anonymous

    camera not detected in lightroom 3. my camera is a nikon d2h, what do i do

    • patyuen

      Well you could stop asking for tech support via blog comments. The genius in me thinks contacting Adobe might be a step in the right direction.

  • Anonymous

    camera not detected in lightroom 3. my camera is a nikon d2h, what do i do

    • patyuen

      Well you could stop asking for tech support via blog comments. The genius in me thinks contacting Adobe might be a step in the right direction.