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Pro Photo Rental

Why You Should Be Tethering
By Zac Henderson

Importing images into your computer is a hassle. It's not fun, it takes a long time, and you have to keep track of those pesky little SD cards. While memory cards won't be leaving us any time soon, there are other options to bringing images into your machine during your shoot, effectively eliminating the "import" step altogether. "Tethering" or "tethered capture" is simply a way of connecting your camera to your computer so that any time you take a new image, that file is written to your computer instead of (or sometimes in addition to) the camera's memory card. Tethering offers a plethora of benefits to almost any photoshoot that go far beyond eliminating the import step. 

Eliminates the import step

We already mentioned this above, but it deserves mentioning again. Knowing that your images on your computer just after you captured them (and are subsequently ready for backup immediately), adds peace of mind and lessens the amount of time there are only one copy of your photographs (2 is 1, 1 is none). Dropping your memory card in a cup of coffee on its way to the card reader, or damaging it in some other way prior to import, is a very real possibility.

Organizes the shoot in realtime

You don't have to put all the images in your shoot in one folder to be painstakingly sifted through later. Tethering allows you to shoot into specific folders for the specific part of the shoot you're currently working on. That means when it's time to go back and find a particular shot, you're not scrolling for five minutes trying to find it. Navigate to the folder of the series of images you're looking for and, as Tag Team would say, Whoomp, There It Is.

Check focus

Why would you try to determine whether the last several images you shot are in focus on a puny 3" screen when you could be checking 100% focus with the click of a mouse on a 15" monitor? You wouldn't. (or at least you SHOULDN'T). Depending on the software you may even be able to see a live view feed from your camera on the computer, letting you adjust focus manually or from the keyboard using the camera's autofocus motor for absolute precision.

Check composition

Some software allows you overlay a transparency over the last image your shot, or over a live camera feed. This lets you perfectly compose for type or other design elements. Plus, a large monitor lets you check corner to corner composition more efficiently.

Make adjustments to your images in real time

Most editing software lets you make adjustments to the image just after it was captured, and then automatically apply those adjustments to all future images. This makes the shoot go smoothly and allows you to made decisions during the shoot that you might not have made if you were shooting to a card.

Make selects on the fly

If you have a client with you on set you could allow them to make selects during the shoot, potentially saving significant time on the back end. Plus it saves face. No client wants to look at the back of a camera to decide anything.

Capture One

How to Tether

1. Choose your camera

Most modern pro and prosumer cameras are able to tether. Tether Tools recommends looking for your camera's manual for terms like "tethering" "instant transfer" or "direct image transfer". You can also google your specific camera model. 

2. Choose your software

Most any pro or prosumer DSLR or mirrorless camera body will be able to tether to most any PC or Mac. The trick is making sure the software you choose is compatible with your camera and computer combination. Before buying any new software so that you can tether, be sure that you read the release notes of that particular version of the software so that you can confirm your camera is supported, and that your computer meets the minimum system requirements.

What to look for in tethering software.


For starters, you want to be sure that the software you use to tether into is compatible with your camera. Sounds like a no brainer, but first thing first. (Read the release notes!) Next, you want to think about what the software is capable of controlling on your camera. Some software can take advantage of the live view feed your camera produced, so you can see your composition on the computer. Some tether software is able to control autofocus and adjust almost everything on your camera's menu.


If you're shooting studio work by yourself and don't mind waiting around for an image to come up and render on your computer screen this may not be very important. If you're a working pro and you've got an art director on set waiting to make a judgement call on whether or not this composition is working, then speed will be a very important consideration. Do your research and download free trial of the software you're considering and give them a shot to see how fast the files are coming in. Larger files will take a bit longer.


Tethering to a computer offers a ton of benefits, but the greatest might be the ability to organize your shoot before it even begins. Instead of sending all of your images to the same folder on your hard drive, consider making sub folders for different parts of the shoot. For example, during a product shoot, you could create sub folders for different products over the course of a day, or for a fashion shoot, different sub folders for different "looks" or outfit changes. For headshots, each new sitter could have a sub folder dedicated to that individual, making your life far easier on the backend when it comes to finding a particular part of the shoot or an individual image. Certain programs can change the folder location the camera is shooting into very quickly, making on set organization a breeze.

Feature Set

Tethering software is great, but adding another piece of software just to tether into may not be necessary. I would argue it's far more efficient to tether into a software that is your primary organizational tool and RAW converter. That way you're not moving between pieces of software


Free is great, but often you get what you pay for. If you decide to shell out for tethering software, be sure it meets as many of your needs as it possibly can.

Our recommendation:

Paid: Phase One's Capture One Pro
Industry standard tethering software that is also a leading RAW converter, organizational powerhouse, and efficient on set management system. Get it here: https://www.captureone.com/en/

Free: Camera Manufacturer's Proprietary Software
The best free tethering software tend to be the ones created by your own camera's manufacturer. This software will generally control the camera exceptionally well, but may have sacrifices in customization, user interface/experience, organizational options, etc. 

Not sure? The good folks over at Tether Tools have out together an extensive list here https://www.tethertools.com/tethering-software/

3. Make sure you have the right cable, and at least one extra

USB-A, USB-C, USB-Micro B, USB3, Ethernet, etc. It can be tricky knowing what cable you need to tether effectively. Fortunately Tether Tools has an excellent tool for determining what cable your camera needs here: https://www.tethertools.com/product-category/cables-adapters/. If you're renting a camera from Pro Photo Rental and you want to tether, just add a tether cable during check out, or ask us to include one.

Canon !dX MkII

Tethering is a excellent time saver and a great way to streamline your shoot. Still, it is hopefully obvious that tethering is not the perfect solution for everything. Cable management becomes an issue since it can be easy to trip over a tether cable, potentially bringing your camera, computer, or both, crashing down to the floor. If you're tethering on set in front of a client, you also want to make sure that your connection is solid. Depending on the quality of the ports on your camera, it could be potentially very easy for a cable to wiggle out of connection, stopping your shoot in its tracks. That's why it's important in a professional setting to ensure your cables are handled carefully and any connections to the camera or computer are free from strain.

So far we've gone over wired tether capture. This is the standard for most professional productions, but wireless tethering is starting to look more and more appealing. Wireless tethering sends RAW or JPEG files wirelessly from the camera to your computer or capable device like a tablet or phone. Some cameras have this ability right out of the box, including our Canon 5D Mark IV, Canon 1DX Mark IIISony A7R MkIV, and our Phase One IQ3 100MP (JPEG preview to iOS device via Capture Pilot). If your camera can't natively tether wirelessly, there are third party options that will work just fine like our CamFi CF101 Wireless Remote Camera Controller which can transmit RAW or JPEG files to an iphone or tablet. CamRanger and the Tether Tools Air Direct and Case Air are also good options. 


As you can imagine, sending large files through thin air can take some significant time. It also can be more finicky than a cabled connection since it will rely on the native WiFi strength, be susceptible to interference, and could potentially drop for seemingly no reason. For a professional setting, its our recommendation that wireless "tethering" be used to simply send preview jpegs to a device like an iPad, and leave the mission critical RAW files to either be left on card or tethered with a wired connection into your software of choice.

Having the ability to send previews or full RAW files to a computer to be instantly organized and inspected with a fine-toothed comb can be a huge boost to your on-set capabilities. When done properly, it can help keep the shoot going smoothly and impress your clients. Indeed, many clients expect to be able to see a larger version of the image either on a computer screen or a dedicated monitor when shooting in a studio. Now get out there and tether up!

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