By Erik Valind
There are a million and one reasons to shoot tethered on location, but in this blog post I’m going to talk about the most life-saving reason for me – FOCUS.
You may have heard the saying that “Everything looks good on a three-inch screen.” Well it’s true and that screen is the one located on the back of your DSLR camera. When shrunken down to 3 inches and put on a high-resolution back-lit display, how can a picture look anything but perfect? Only after further inspection, by zooming into each shot, can you ensure critical focus. This isn’t convenient or even feasible for every shot and focus is still hard to discern when shooting with an extremely shallow depth of field.
This is where a mobile computer setup and tethering software come into play. With a Tether Table Aero System I can conveniently bring my laptop into the field and utilize tethered capture programs like Capture One Pro. By plugging the camera into my laptop, each new frame pops up on a large 15-inch laptop screen. This makes it much easier to review and collaborate with my subject and crew, without everyone huddling around the back of my camera.
More specifically, Capture One has a “Focus Mask” feature, which when toggled on, reveals exactly what is in focus. Now compare these two images. The first one was assumed to be in focus after viewing it on the back of my camera screen. The second photo – what a surprise upon consulting my laptop screen and seeing that everything glowing green is what’s ACTUALLY in focus! This alone saved me what could have been hours in Photoshop to repair (or may have ruined the shoot entirely).
This feature becomes even more important when shooting wide-open portraits at apertures of f/1.4 and f/2.0. At these settings the in-focus portion of the photograph is razor thin. You’ll see in the third photo that this is no longer an area of concern when shooting tethered and verifying focus at a glance. In the end it frees you to shoot more accurately and confidently. That’s reason enough for me. Happy shooting!