Tethered Photography for Product Photo Shoots

Posted by: on Apr 30, 2011

Tethered Photography for Product Photo Shoots
Article and images by: Sourabh Banerjee, WriteLights photography blog Over the years I have seen a lot of fashion photographers shoot tethered and I always wondered if it was really worth the effort. At a recent jewelry product photo shoot, I found out it is. Tethering allows you to operate your camera using your computer. You still need to frame and focus using the viewfinder. But once you are done, you can change camera settings from the computer very easily. The biggest advantage is that you can check for sharpness immediately by doing a 1:1 crop. This becomes crucial while shooting product photography in a tight time frame because you get to see exactly how your shots will look on screen. If your camera is on a tripod and needs to be absolutely still (for macro shots, for instance), triggering the shutter release using software is an added advantage. In this setup, I am controlling the camera via Lightroom while doing product shots for a catalog. I am using a light tent, off-camera flash and a gobo. I also am using an improvised softbox at the bottom as a reflector.


I found a much greater percentage of usable shots and dramatic reduction in post-processing time because of tethered photography. You can set the camera to dump the frames immediately to the computer’s hard drive so you are no longer limited by the capacity of your memory card. I found this to be a very convenient way to control the camera, and change settings and lenses to get exactly the kind of shot I wanted. You can even do the full range of post-processing steps while waiting for your assistant to prepare the next frame. Here is what you need to get started:
  • Adobe Lightroom 3 (Mac or PC), or a nifty application called Sofortbild. It also supports Live View on some camera models
  • A USB cable of appropriate length
In case you are wondering how the shot taken above turned out, here it is: