Posted January 5, 2016 by Gavin Hoey in Articles

5 Top Tether Tips (into Lightroom)

There’s plenty of reasons why tethering your camera to your computer is a really great idea, I do it all the time for my live demos and workshops. Having your photos appear on a large screen is a great way to show them off to a group or simply to check the sharpness and colour on a screen that’s bigger and better than the one on your camera. You don’t even have to be a studio photographer to find tethering useful for example, I hook up to a 10” Windows tablet during my location workshops.

So here are my top five tips for tethering into Lightroom.

1 Already supported
Ever since Lightroom 3 there’s been a built in way to tether a camera and Lightroom. It’s quick, simple and reliable. You’ll find it under File-Tethered Capture-Start Tethered Capture. Fill in the setting boxes and away you go.Tether-1

The bad news is it only works for a selected number of cameras from Canon, Nikon and Leica. You can see the full list here https://helpx.adobe.com/lightroom/kb/tethered-camera-support.html

Basically if you’re camera body isn’t supported you can’t use it but all is not lost. Jump down to section 5 for help.

2 Right Cable
OK so you have a camera that’s supported by your version of Lightroom, it’s all hooked up and the camera’s USB setting are correct. But for some reason Lightroom just won’t recognise it and insists that “No Camera Detected”Tether-2

What USB cable are you using? Is it the one that camera with your camera or a cable you found stuffed away in a drawer? The problem is not all USB cables are the same, despite how they may appear and Lightroom (or rather your computer) is fussy.

Some USB cables are charging cables, some are data cables, some are both and all of them look the same. If Lightroom won’t talk to your camera it may well be the cable that’s faulty or simply doesn’t support data. Swap the cable for a known good one and try again.

3 Go long
Unless you intend to shoot with your computer less than a metre from your camera (and some photographers do) you’ll want a USB extension cable. The longer the cable the less likely I am to trip over it and the more mobile I can work. However there’s a problem. If your total cable length goes beyond about 5 meters the USB signal will be intermittent or just plain stop.

The solution is to buy something called an Active USB Extension also known as a USB Repeater Cable. It’ll have either a thicker connection at the female end or a little bump in the cable which houses a signal booster and that’s what gets you past the 5 metre limit.Tether-3

4 Shrink the bar
Once everything is set up, Lightroom will auto import you images whenever you press the camera shutter button, plus it has some basic camera controls such as remote firing the shutter and… well, actually that’s it but it will show you a bunch of useful camera information like ISO and aperture.

Of course you may not need to see all that extra info, so to hide it hold the ALT key and click on the – icon in the Tether tools bar’s top right corner. You’ll be left with a single button which you can drag out of the way.Tether-4

5 Not supported, not a problem
Moving from Canon to Olympus caused me a few headaches when it came to tethering into Lightroom. Like most cameras manufactures, Olympus makes its own software for tethering and gives it away for free but it lacks things I need (like full screen reviews or any sort of image editing).  What it does do is auto import photos to a chosen folder on my hard drive which I can then set as a watched folder in Lightoom. Here’s how it works.

With the camera software importing to a preselected folder (how this is done varies from brand to brand) I then go to Lightroom and click File-Auto Import-Auto Import Settings and put a tick in the Enable Auto Import box. Set the watched Folder to be the same folder on my hard drive that I selected in the camera manufacturers software and do the same with the destination folder.Tether-5

And that’s it, Lightroom will auto import any images that land in the watched folder and they appear on screen about five seconds after I take the shot. Best of all Lightroom remembers these settings, so it’s a “set and forget” process too!

Gavin Hoey