Friday, 30 November 2012

Studio shoots with a tethered cord or eye-fi card

Does this sound familiar? You shoot a few photos, pull the card and put it in the computer with a card reader to preview the images… It’s painstaking and frankly takes too long… you’re model will be sitting there yawning and texting friends versus being engaged in a shoot…  This, my friends is a time when shooting tethered makes the most sense. In your new home studio!

Shooting tethered is when your camera is connected via USB cable to a computer or a laptop. Almost every DSLR made is capable of doing this with the included USB cable and software, alternatively Lightroom 4 supports tethered mode for most modern cameras. Follow the directions with the software that came with your camera to import or configure Lightroom 4 to do it for you and the images will be flying off your camera to your computer like Clarke Griswald flying down the hill on his industrial greased snow dome.

I chose to shoot to my memory card and then transfer to computer. If you do this method and there is a transmission issue, well, at least I have a back up on my camera.

One other thing to consider is cable length. Most cables that come with cameras are only five of six feet long… not long enough for a studio application. You will need to extend the length of your cable… But to do this you need a USB extension, and one with what’s called a “repeater”. USB cables are really only good for about 15 feet… and 15 feet is still not enough length.

My suggestion is to work with two 15 foot long cables… just be careful not to trip over the cable, yank it out of the computer or camera…  Don’t tape it to the camera or laptop either… I have seen the hard tugging on a tapped tether cord ruin a connection… its just better to work with the cord… always have it hang to one side and deal with it like you are mowing your lawn with an electric lawn mower…  J

Also, when you place your computer or laptop so you can see the images… well, make sure it is secure… maybe use velcro straps to secure it to a table off to the side.

Depending if you are shooting RAW or JPG, and the camera you have, it can take a few seconds to 20 seconds for images to appear. I take half a dozen shots, and then look at what has appeared on my computer, make adjustments and go back to shooting. It’s a much faster and far more productive than pulling a card and putting it into a computer.

Another option to shooting physically tethered with USB cables is utilizing Eye-Fi technology. They are memory cards that can transmit wirelessly to your computer. But to be honest, in real world situations the transfer rates are slower than a tethered cable. That and you cannot  always count on a Wi-Fi network to be available where you are shooting, the kids could be eating up all the bandwidth, someone’s watching a movie, or your ever reliable home internet service is as slow as molasses.

You can get around that but you’ll need to buy a wireless router which is pre-configured as a private network and ready to go. But do you really want to get that technical?

Try both, or talk to friends that shoot in both methods… personally I shoot with tethered cable and just get into the habit of watching the cord.

tomorrow we will address the big topic... LIGHTING for the studio

Good luck in creating your set up!

Kev