Thursday, December 2, 2010

Shoot Tethered with Lightroom 3

If you are tired of looking at small previews on your camera’s LCD screen, if you have a relatively new Canon or Nikon DSLR, if you have a laptop with Lightroom 3 loaded (LRS), if you don’t suffer from SSKD (severe stumbling-klutze disorder) then you will want to check out shooting tethered.  All the software is in LR3.  Tethered isn’t a good technique for all situations.  However your productivity will improve when you instantly review minute details of your compositions, focus, lighting, and exposure via this new function in LR3. 
I shoot with a Nikon D90, but many other Nikons and Canons will work.  One fast way to determine compatibility is simply plug your body into a computer running LR3.

To do that, find the access door on your camera body.

Look for the USB port and attach a cable.

You may want to use a long cable to increase your shooting flexibility

Make sure you are running LR3.

In the main File menu pull down to Tethered Capture, then select Start Tethered Capture.

Next you will see a Capture Settings screen, and here you determine the Session Name, file naming convention, Destination, Metadata and Keywords.  The important thing to remember is the files are saved in the location you specified in the Capture screen (the computer is the default).  The files are not on the card in the camera.

Press OK on the capture screen and you will find yourself in LR where you last were working.  This is the bottom of the screen of my previous tethered session.   

At the top of the screen you will find the capture bar.  This bar shows the camera model, session name, current camera settings (shutter, f stop, ISO, white balance), a pull down menu for development settings, and a capture button (you may also use the camera’s shutter or a remote release).  If you don’t see your camera here (check the pull down menu) you are SOL.

You’ll notice my white balance was flash, and here I changed it to Sunny.

There are many Development Settings, and they are non-destructive in LR.  So far I prefer None.

As you set up your composition, remember you are tethered to an expensive and delicate computer.  It may be helpful to use a tripod here, and that is one of the compromises you may make to shoot tethered.  Some cameras will allow Live View in LR3, so give it a try.  Release the shutter,

Wait for the new file to load,

And now review your frame as you would any other file in the catalog.

Recall that the files are not stored in the camera.  I recommend performing a backup(s) before you pack up.  That way you will avoid CSILM*!F syndrome (Chris Snyder’s I Lost My *! Files).

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