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Shooting Tethered with a Digital Camera

written by: Balachandar Radhakrishnan•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 6/26/2009

Did you know that you can connect your digital SLR to your computer to control your camera? Better yet, you can do complete photo shoots, like they do it on American Idol or other fashion shoots, where the model is photographed and the shot previewed on a massive screen! Read on to learn more.

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    Exploring Camera Features

    Camera technology is progressing impressively. We have cameras that have amazing low light sensitivity and speed, the ability to shoot high definition video, and so on. However, not everybody takes advantage of all that their digital camera has to offer. Your skill in composition is definitely an asset in photography, but so are the features offered by your camera. In this article, we'll take a look at a not so popularly used feature on modern digital SLRs called tethered shooting. Although the feature is aimed more towards pro photographers, there's no reason why a casual shooter can't play around with it too.

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    What is Tethered Shooting?

    Tethered shooting involves capturing an image with your digital camera attached to your computer. That’s correct; you can shoot images with your camera connected to your computer, using the monitor or screen on your computer to compose the shot. Most of the modern digital SLRs support this feature. It can be easily setup with Canon digital SLRs that ship with accompanying software that will allow you do this. Before we go into details on how to do this, let's first address when you want to shoot tethered and what the advantages and setbacks are.

    Photo credit: cameronobscura

    (Click on image to enlarge)

    tethered shoot 

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    Advantages of Shooting Tethered

    Using the computer monitor generally provides greater comfort in composing a photo than the comparatively tiny on-camera display. The on-camera display is usually the only option while shooting outdoors, however, you can use your 24 inch - or bigger - monitor for composing studio shots! You will see what a larger screen can bring to the game. If used with displays that have been previously color calibrated, the amount of post processing involved is greatly reduced. Shots can be directly imported to your photography workflow software (Adobe Lightroom, Apple Aperture, etc.) resulting in a considerably shorter workflow. Great for feedback from the client and/or model, since they can see the image on a bigger display and make on-the-spot decisions which would benefit both of you.

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    When to Shoot Tethered

    Though shooting tethered offers a lot in terms of productivity to you as a photographer, it cannot be a comfortable solution for all situations. Shooting moving objects is not possible and you would have to make use of handheld shooting. Also, outdoor shoots that make use of tethering may require extensive equipment assembly and personnel. For people who are interested in travel photography or sports photography, tethering might not be a viable option due to the amount of work and equipment involved.

    So now you're ready to try out tethered shooting, continue on to part two of this article series to learn the actual process and the requirements for shooting tethered.

Tethered Shooting with a Digital SLR Camera

What is tethered shooting? What are the pros and cons to shooting tethered? How do you go about this technique? Can tethered photography enhance your photos? Learn all about shooting tethered in this Digital Camera Tips article series.
  1. Shooting Tethered with a Digital Camera
  2. What You Need for Tethered Shooting & How to Do It