Lightroom is a very flexible image management and processing software, but apart from powerful tools and settings to enhance your photographs, it also offers features that help you during the actual process of photographing. Have you ever felt that, even with the constant resolution and physical size growth, camera LCD screens just aren’t big enough for comfortable image viewing in the field? Luckily, Lightroom offers a way to import photographs and review them as you shoot. This function, called Tethered Capture, is especially useful for studio photographers who don’t tend to move about too much. It can be equally useful for landscape photographers, too. In this Mastering Lightroom series article, I will explain how to tether your camera. This allows you to import images directly into the Lightroom 4 environment for quick and comfortable revision as you photograph.
1) When Should I Use It?
The best time to use Tethered Capture is when working in a less active environment. For example, studio and landscape photographers, who tend to bring their laptop computers along on a shoot, will find it to be very simple and fuss-less. However, wedding photographers, who tend to move all the time and change their shooting position, would find Tethered Capture to be annoying at the very least. Who’d want to photograph a wedding with a USB cable strapped to the camera constantly, and through it, a laptop? You’d need an assistant just to have that laptop lugged around behind you! In many other situations, Tethered Capture can make reviewing images that much more pleasant.
If you have your Develop Settings set accordingly, you may also import images with your favorite settings already applied. In other words, you get the final image as you shoot, save for exposure and other minor tweaks, all within Lightroom without the need to import photographs manually after your photography session.
2) How do I Tether my Camera?
First and foremost, you will need a USB cable to connect your camera to your computer. Plug it into both devices and turn on your camera. Now, open desired Lightroom catalog in which you want to import your photographs as you capture them, and choose “Start Tethered Capture…” from File->Tethered Capture menu. A “Tethered Capture Settings” window will pop-up. Let’s go through the given settings one by one.
A side note: if, once you’re done with all settings listed bellow, your camera is undetected by Lightroom, try connecting it (turning your DSLR on) after you’re done with the settings, not before as instructed previously.
2.1) Session Settings
Enter the name of your session in Session Name field. Keep it brief, but easily understandable. Further on, you will have the chance to use session name as image file name as well. The “Segment Photos by Shots” option allows you to group similar images into separate subfolders as you photograph (for example, by model or pose). The first subfolder naming option appears once you click “OK” in “Tethered Capture Settings” window. To create a new subfolder (or Shot, as Adobe names its grouping), press Ctrl+Shift+T (Windows) or Command+Shift+T (Mac OS) during Tethered Capture session.
2.2) Naming Settings
Choose from different naming presets, or create your own if you like. This naming will be applied to RAW files as they are saved to your computer during your tethered shooting session.
Choose where you want your images saved as you photograph.
2.4) Information Settings
These settings will help you find your images within Lightroom. Specify keywords depending on the shoot and, for example, gear used, as seen in the image above. Specify Metadata preset to be used if you have any saved. You can choose to create such a preset from the drop-down menu.