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Lightroom Tethered Shooting

The ability to establish a tethered connection via Lightroom should mean that your photos can be imported more quickly because the tethered process imports the photos directly to the destination folder. The one downside is that the tethered connection process is mostly one-way. Lightroom enables camera capture files to be imported into Lightroom and can read the camera settings data, but unfortunately you can’t use the Tethered Shoot control panel to interact with the camera, other than to use the shutter release button to fire the camera shutter. For studio photographers like myself who shoot people, this isn’t necessarily going to be a huge problem since you are always going to have your hands on the camera anyway. For studio photographers where the camera is static on a tripod, I can see this being more of a disappointment. What you have to bear in mind here is that providing reverse communication with each unique camera interface has proved a lot harder than enabling tethered download communication with the currently supported cameras. Multiply this work by the number of cameras supported by Camera Raw and you’ll get some idea of the scale of the problem. Personally, I am pleased with the progress that has been made to get us to the point where Lightroom can download images quickly and flawlessly.

The tethered shooting feature in Lightroom 3 has initially been provided for a select number of Canon and Nikon digital SLR cameras, but these also come with their own software solutions for importing photos via a tethered connection. One of the advantages of using such dedicated tethered capture software is that you can control the camera settings remotely via a computer interface. This can be particularly useful where it would otherwise prove awkward to reach the camera. If this sounds like a more appealing solution then you might want to explore using such software in conjunction with Lightroom.

  1. To initiate a tethered shoot session, I went to the File menu and selected Tethered Capture ➯ Start Tethered Capture...
  2. This opened the Tethered Capture Settings dialog shown here, where I was able to configure the desired tethered import settings. I used the default Studio Session text for the Shoot Name and opted to “Segment Photos By Shots”. In the Naming section I chose a suitable file naming template. In the Destination section I set the destination folder location to Studio shoots and in the Information section I selected a Metadata preset to add on import, along with relevant keywords for the shoot. I then clicked OK to confirm these Settings.
  3. Because I had chosen to “Segment Photos by Shots”, the Initial Shot Name dialog appeared next. Here I needed to enter a name for the photo shoot that was about to take place. To keep things simple I called this shoot Shot 1 and clicked OK.
  4. This opened the Tethered Shoot control panel, where after I had switched the camera on, the camera name appeared in the top left section. If more than one camera is connected to the computer you can click on the pop-up menu to choose which camera to import from. You will notice that the camera data displayed here is informational only and the settings will have to be adjusted on the camera itself, although you can use the big round shutter button to take photographs remotely.
  5. You can also click on the Develop Settings pop-up menu to select an appropriate Develop setting. In this step I chose a pre-saved setting that would apply a Camera Standard profile to the photos as they were imported. As long as the Tethered Shoot control panel remained active I could shoot pictures with the selected camera and these would be automatically imported into Lightroom. I could hide the panel using Delete+T (Mac) or Ctrl+T (PC) or quit by clicking on the Close button (circled).
  6. As I started shooting, the capture images began to appear in the Lightroom catalog, where I had adjusted the sort order so that the most recently shot images were shown first. You will notice that these photos appeared in the following folder directory: Studio Shoots/Studio Session/Shot 1. To understand the hierarchy employed here, you will need to refer back to the sections that I have highlighted in steps 2 and 3. Studio Shoots was the selected master Destination folder for the tethered shoot images. Studio Session was the default name used in the Shoot section and lastly, Shot 1 was the name given to this first series of shots. At this point I could prepare for a second shoot by opening the Initial Shot Name dialog via the Tethered Shoot control panel (see Step 4) and enter a name for the next set of shots (or use the Delete+Shift+T [Mac] or Control+Shift+T [PC)] shortcut). One last thing I should mention here is that when shooting with a Canon camera, the captured files are also saved to the memory card, but if you are using a Nikon camera the capture images won’t be saved to the card.

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