Lightroom 3 Beta 2 – Tethered Shooting

Within the last week Adobe has released a second beta of their photographer’s digital darkroom tool Lightroom.

Here’s one of my favourite new features of this release:

Tethered Shooting

Tethered shooting is the instantaneous, automatic transfer of image files from the camera to the computer when a photograph is taken. This happens either via a direct (e.g. USB) connection from camera to computer, or using a wireless file transfer function provided by the camera.

Illustration showing simplicity of tethered shooting workflow in Lightroom

The process allows the studio photographer to immediately assess an image on their computer using advanced controls in digital darkroom software, and is commonplace in a big budget studio shoot because it allows an art director or client to see exactly what they are getting at the time. Tethered shooting also speeds up the photographer’s workflow, removing the need to replace full memory cards during a shoot and having to transfer images in bulk after the shoot.

Tethered shooting to Lightroom has been possible for a while, however the new native support within Lightroom will simplify the workflow for studio photographers, and provide a number of benefits:

  • No need to install or run camera’s own software in the background (e.g. Canon EOS Utility)
  • No need to match import settings in camera software and Lightroom: reduces points of failure
  • Control the tethered shoot from one piece of software rather than two
  • View camera settings and operate shutter release within Lightroom
  • No need for a watch folder. Automatically import images according to your existing folder and file naming convention
  • Automatically add photographs to a Lightroom collection
  • Automatically apply develop settings: very useful if you have 15 minutes spare before the client turns up to create a custom develop setting for the specific lighting setup. Note: you can swap develop settings mid-session on the tethered shoot control bar
  • Apply any metadata to the image files on a per-session basis

How to set up. Previously, the method for tethered shooting depended on your combination of camera and camera software. Thanks to the native support in the upcoming release of Lightroom 3, tethered shooting will work with pretty much any camera straight off the bat. And it needs no instruction other than to say: Ctrl-Shift-T (Win) or Cmd-Shift-T (Mac) > enter your session name > start shooting.

The above keyboard shortcut is equivalent to selecting the menu File > Tethered Capture.

I have tested tethered shooting in the recently released Lightroom 3 beta 2, and it works like a dream. It’s super fast with my Canon 5D Mark II shooting RAW images on full resolution (average file size = 22MB), even on a relatively slow laptop.

Each time you start a tethered shoot, you can set the name of the session and select automatic metadata settings from the metadata preset library.

Here’s what tethered capture doesn’t do right now:

  • Doesn’t support all cameras yet: only newer digital cameras
  • There are reports that the 64bit version of Windows XP is not supported, however these have not been confirmed
  • Tethered shooting will not support any live view function your camera may have

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