New LR3 Beta 2 Feature: Tethered Shooting

A few weeks ago I posted my top list of items I'd like to see in Lightroom 4.

The recent release of Lightroom 3's second public beta made one of those  items - tethering - a reality! Read on for more on this exciting new feature.

About Tethering

Tethered shooting allows you to connect a USB cable from your camera to your laptop and, while shooting, have the images show up instantly on the computer. More advanced tethered programs add features like seeing the camera settings (f stop, shutter speed, etc.) in the software, see a live view on the screen of what the camera is seeing and the ability to trigger the camera from the software.

How it Works in Lightroom

In the past, Lightroom was able to tether. Sort of. You needed additional software to import the photos from the camera. Lightroom had a feature called Watched Folders that would then automatically display the images imported in. The feature worked, but was a bit difficult to setup - especially for beginners - and it required installing the additional software to import the pictures.

Lightroom 3, Beta 2 now integrates the entire process right into a nice, easy to use interface.

Open Lightroom, connect your supported camera and click File, Tethered Capture, Start Tethered Capture.

You'll then have an opportunity to set up how the photos are imported, including folder names, if you want a develop preset applied to each imported photo, etc. Set each item as needed, click OK.

The primary dialog is then replaced by a tethered shooting bar. The bar displays the connected camera, along with the camera's current settings. As you take a picture with the camera, the photo will automatically transfer to the folder you specified and display in Lightroom. You can also click the button on the right-side of the bar to take the picture.

That's it. One of the things I like most about this new feature is its simplicity. Plug in the camera, click a few buttons and start shooting!

What it Doesn't Do

Unfortunately for some, tethering isn't all roses. Depending on what camera and specific features you use, tethering may not work for you quite yet.

Camera Support

As of this writing, only newer Canon and Nikon cameras are supported. See the following release notes for the full list. Hopefully, like RAW support, tethered camera support will grow in future releases.

Advanced Features

While the existing set of features do the trick for me, some more advanced features are missing. For example, it doesn't currently display a live view of what the camera sees and doesn't let you change the camera's settings from within Lightroom.

Conclusion

This isn't just one of my favorite new features in the second beta, but one of my favorite features overall in Lightroom 3. If you do any type of studio work, integrated tethering is a great productivity help.

As long as you are using a supported camera, this new, easy to use feature works great!

Brian Reyman

Brian lives and breathes Adobe products and loves using pretty much all of them. He was recently named an Adobe Community Professional for Lightroom! As an Adobe Certified Expert in Lightroom and User Group Manager for the Denver Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop User Group, Lightroom is at the top of the list! When not shooting and using Lightroom (or other Adobe products), Brian is an IT professional living in Denver, Colorado. You can find Brian enjoying time with his great wife & kids or out playing sports or shooting (pictures of course) in the Rocky Mountains.