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This chapter is from the book Importing photos directly from the camera

Importing photos directly from the camera

It is possible to set up Lightroom to work in a tethered shooting mode (Figure 2.33). This means that photographs shot on the camera can be brought directly into Lightroom. Tethered shooting also allows clients to see the images appear as previews in the Library grid as you shoot (if you think this will help). I also find tethered shooting can be useful on model castings because it allows me to individually update the keywords or captions right after a photo has been shot.

Figure 2.33 This shows the computer setup that I normally use when shooting in tethered mode in the studio.

Connecting the camera to the computer

To shoot in tethered mode you obviously need to be able to connect your camera to the computer. Ideally, you want the fastest connection possible. Most professional digital SLRs offer either a FireWire (IEEE 1394) or a USB 2.0 connection and these should provide a fast enough interface so that you can import the capture files at about the same speed as you can with a standard speed camera memory card. The only downside is that you must have your camera connected to the computer via the appropriate cable and this can restrict the amount of freedom you have to move about without pulling the cable out or, worse still, pull a laptop computer off the table!

Another option is to shoot wirelessly. As of this writing, wireless units are available for some digital SLR cameras; these will allow you to transmit images directly from the camera to a base station that’s linked to the computer. Wireless shooting offers you the freedom, up to a certain distance, to shoot in a tethered style, but it’s really restricted to the transmission of suitably compressed JPEGs. The current data transmission speeds for some camera systems are a lot slower than those you can expect from a FireWire or USB 2.0 connection. Rapid shooting via a wireless connection can certainly work well if you are shooting in JPEG mode, but not if you intend on shooting raw. Of course, this may all change in the future. For example, with some Nikons, you can shoot wirelessly via PTP/IP or FTP. It appears so far that PTP/IP is better and should rival FireWire, since PTP/IP is able to transfer files much faster due to the compression that’s built into the transmission.

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 remotely. For studio photographers like myself, who shoot people, this isn’t necessarily going to be a huge problem since I am always going to be controlling the camera anyway. For studio photographers, where the camera is static on a tripod, I can see this being more of a problem. What you have to bear in mind here is that providing reverse communication for each unique camera interface has proven a lot harder than simply enabling tethered download communication with the currently supported cameras. Multiply this work by the number of cameras that are 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 has initially been provided for a select number of Canon and Nikon digital SLR cameras, and also the Leica S2. However, most digital SLR and medium format cameras will come with their own software solutions for importing photos via a tethered connection. One of the advantages of using 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. If you go to the book website you can download the sample instructions I have provided there for working with the Canon EOS Utility program in conjunction with the Canon EOS 1Ds Mark III camera. Here, I show how Lightroom is able to appropriate the tethered shooting component of the camera communication software, and from there directly take over the image processing and image management via the Auto Import dialog. Although these instructions relate to Canon software, you should be able to translate this to working with other cameras and camera software setups.

  1. To initiate a tethered shoot session in Lightroom, 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 these settings will have to be adjusted on the camera itself, although you can use the big round shutter button to capture photographs remotely.
  5. If you click on the Develop Settings pop-up menu you can select an appropriate develop setting. 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 (Mac) or (PC) or quit by clicking on the Close button (circled). To collapse the tether toolbar, -click the close button (Figure 2.34).
  6. Figure 2.34 You can collapse the tether toolbar down by -clicking the close button (circled in Step 5).

  7. As I started shooting, the capture images began to appear in the Lightroom catalog, where you will note that I had adjusted the sort order so that the most recently shot images were shown first (see sidebar tip). You will also 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 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 [Mac] or [PC)] shortcut). One last thing I should mention here is that when shooting with a Canon camera, the captured files will also be saved to the memory card, but if you are using a Nikon camera they won’t be. In practice, this means that if you are a Canon user you will need to remember to switch cards as they become full or reformat the card once the photos have successfully imported.
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