Options for Shooting Tethered into Lightroom

First off, a BIG thanks to everyone who posted “good lucks” on the Philly half marathon I ran this past weekend. I ran with my brother and sister and we ran the whole race together (and had a great time doing it). Weather was cold but I felt absolutely great once we got going. Anyway, thanks again!

Now onto the topic of the day. A few things have changed lately when it comes to shooting tethered into Lightroom. So I figured I’d cover them all in one post. Also, I’m not doing a full tutorial on shooting tethered mainly because that’s been done a few times already. Here’s a link to Scott Kelby’s blog where he’s got a tutorial on shooting tethered into Lightroom. Sound good? OK, here’s your options:

1) If you shoot Canon then you can use Canon’s free EOS Utility. This is probably your best option if you’re a Canon shooter.

2) If you’re a Nikon shooter the waters are a bit murky here. First, you can use Nikon’s (NOT FREE) Camera Control Pro (which is what I’ve used).

3) If you’re a Nikon shooter then you also have a free option but it’s only for Windows users only. It’s called DiyPhotoBits.com Camera Control and they’ve got a video on their site on how to use it.

4) Finally, Tom Hogarty (Lightroom’s Product Manager) let me in on a plug-in for Lightroom 2 (for Mac only though). It’s called MountainStorm Lightroom Tether and you can grab it here. Of course if you find it useful, it’s nice to leave a donation considering your other alternatives are not free. I’ve tested it out and I have to say it works pretty darn good. I’ve used Camera Control Pro for so long so it’s a little weird to change, but I think I’m now switching over to the free plug-in.
(edit: Sorry everyone. I forgot to mention one small thing that I was reminded of in the comments. Some one had told me not to use the “Enhanced” setting so make sure you leave it unchecked. Seems pretty unstable in this mode)

So as you can see here, the world of shooting tethered is still a bit confusing, with a few different options. The best solution would be for Adobe to build tethered shooting support directly into Lightroom (like Aperture does). That’s not a groundbreaking request though, and I think the Adobe folks hear it loud and clear so let’s keep our fingers crossed for the future. One more thing. If you’ve got experience with any of the tethered shooting options above be sure to let us know which works best for you (or not) in the comments area. Thanks!

Author: Matt K

Matt is a full time Education Director for the NAPP and Kelby Training. He's a best-selling author of various books on Photoshop and Photography co-hosts the live weekly photography talk show "The Grid" and is co-host of "Photoshop User TV". In his spare time he practices as a 1st degree black belt in Taekwondo and enjoys spending time with his family in Tampa, FL.

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68 Comments

  1. Hi,

    wich software is necessary (for Canon) to shoot tethered? There are a bunch listed on the page but I am not sure wich one is the good one.

    Thanks,

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  2. … and what if I lost my original CD?

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  3. Hmm. I’ve been shooting tethered with Lightroom without extra plug-ins just fine.

    I shoot Canon, so I setup the Canon EOS Utility with a specific destination folder on my disk. Then I open Lightroom and configure Auto Import to monitor that same folder I picked in the EOS Utility. Tell EOS Utility to shoot remotely and keep Lightroom up and Auto Import on.

    As I shoot it takes about a few seconds after the shot and Lightroom imports the image and displays. It automatically advances to the last image, so folks can actually watch and spot on my Laptop while I shoot. Have done that many times without any problems.

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  4. Andre,

    It’s as Matt says – you need ‘EOS Utility’. Scroll down the page until you come across the version that you want (Mac or Windows) and don’t forget the pdf Help file that is also available. Check the version number first as you might already have this version already on the CD that came with your Canon camera.

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  5. I DON’T RECOMMEND USING MOUNTAINSTORM PLUGIN…

    It may just be me, but I immediately starting having issues. My 4gb Lexar Pro card is now unreadable by my Mac, despite having just re-formatted the card… I had it in the camera when I tried the tether plugin… this isn’t a problem with any other tethering program. I think I’ll be sending MountainSorm a bill. Not cool.

    If you do use this plugin, make sue to remove you card first… tethering seems to work just fine that way.

    If any of you know how to fix my card, I would be greatly appreciative!!!

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  6. I use Canon’s EOS Utility with LR 2.1. It works quite well and LR auto imports from a watched folder. I have not tried using Bridge to do this yet but I understand that it will also “watch” a folder.

    The only issues I’ve had with EOS utility is backwards comptability. After I installed the version that came with my 5D, it would not talk to my 30D. Since I didn’t plan on using the 30D tethered, that has not been a problem.

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  7. I have been using Camera Control Pro 2 with my Nikon D300 which works well but costly . I decided to try the Mountainstorm plugin and to quote Matt, “It’s pretty darn good!”

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  8. I shoot teathered with Canon’s EOS Utility with a Canon 40D. This links up well, as described before, with Lightroom 2.

    I went one step futher. In the same room as my studio, I have 40″ Sony Bravia HD TV. The computer has a dual monitor card to support the PC plus the TV.
    Now I can control the Camrea from the computer, almost all functions including focus, and watch live up on the 40″ TV and see much better for may macro work.

    I find the controls in the Canon EOS Utility a bit awkward, but who am I to complain with free software.

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  9. I love to use the Mountain Tether but I can’t seem to get it to work with my D300. I’ve followed the instructions on his website, set the camera to PTP, set the location and then I get a real quick tether progress bar and then nothing. Anyone have any ideas? I have update LR2 also and am currently running Mac 10.4.11.

    Jeff

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  10. I am interested in the free script for shooting nikon, but everytime I try to go to the site you posted it shows for 2 seconds then I get a page not found error. Is there anywhere else this can be downloaded from?

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  11. I have to say I second the do not use the Mountain Storm product. My lightroom custom identity plate is gone. If I set it up again, I can see it in the select the custom identity plate but when I go back to the Actual Lightoom library, I have a blank area.

    Also the tether did not work with a Mac and D700. Nothing but a progress bar under the Lightroom Stock Identity plate that says Tether with a progress bar displayed. It won’t progress though.

    Tom

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  12. I used to use Canon EOS utility until 18 months ago when I bought a new laptop with vista 64 on it. Canon is not currently supporting 64bit OS with EOS utility. I have contacted canon many times over the last 18 months and all I get is sorry but we do not plan on supporting 64bit OS at this time. I am actually not happy with Canon over this and other issues and for the first time in 20 years I am considering switching to Nikon.

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  13. Pentax Shooter here, the FREE pentax utility works just fine, if images are deselected in the grid i get a full loupe view on import

    john

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  14. Hi, thanks as always Matt. I would love to use Mountain Storm but I do have the same problems as the others with the Mac-D700 combo (although I still have my plate and my cards are still readable). I get an empty bar and thats it. no saved image. Besides I cannot seem to find where to set the camera to psp (maybe it does not exist in the d700). Anyone else got it going?

    Cheers Vincent

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  15. @Joe – Check the Canon website again. EOS Utility v2.4 with support for Windows Vista 32 and 64 bit (except for the Starter edition) was just released last week.

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  16. Forgot the extra info:
    EOS Utility 2.4 Updater for Windows
    v2.4.0 35.67 MB 11/21/2008

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  17. I’ve got the Mountain Storm plugin working with my D3 – though with a bit of effort. Not tried the D300 yet. If you’re using Nikon, don’t check the enhanced checkbox. Also it’s very sensitive to the order in which you do things. Start the plugin, then switch on the camera. When you’re finished, switch off the camera then stop the plugin. And make sure that show import fdialog when memeory card is detected isn’t checked in preferences.

    It’s not perfect, but given the complexity of the problem it’s a great start – perhaps Abobe would pick it up???. Lets face it, Camera Control Pro 2 isn’t perfect either.

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  18. I can’t seem to get my D3 to work with MountainStorm. It recognizes the camera, but the status bars stay empty. I’m running OS10.5.5 and LR2.1 on my Mac Pro. I found someone who got their D3 to work on the Adobe forum, but that was back in September when LR2.0 was out. Could it be a problem with 2.1? Any suggestions?

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  19. I tried it using the NON enhanced version on a MacBook Pro (Older) and No go. To further that, I still cannot get the identity plate back. Even after making a new one, it will not show. STAY AWAY FROM THIS PRODUCT !!!!!

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  20. @Gareth what was the bit of effort you tried to get it to work with your D3? I’ve been trying everything, and nothing seems to work. I tried your suggestion of not using the Enhanced Mode, but the camera won’t go into PC mode without it checked. Weird.

    My D200 works fine though, other than burst mode. Seems to corrupt the all files other than the first one.

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  21. This is my last comment, I swear LOL. Got Mountainstorm LightroomTether to finally work. With a Nikon D3 you need to do the following to make it work.

    As Garth said, don’t use the Enhance Mode. Enhance Mode puts Nikon camreas into it’s PC mode and allowing the camera to store directly to a computer. This is how Nikon Capture works. With the Enhance Mode off, you will need to have a memory card in the camera (this is the part that was messing me up). Make sure in LR that you turn off Show Dialog Box When Memory Card Is Detected in the preferences (another thing that Garth said). Turn the plugin on, turn your D3 on, and fire away. The nice thing is that your memory card will also record the images making an instant backup.

    For someone who just wants to tether and not have the control, Mountainstorm is great. I don’t see the need to adjust my setting on my laptop if I have my camera in my hand.

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  22. After many trials, I only managed to have it work once. So, I am also quitting. I am using a MacBook Pro with Leopard OS 10.5.5. and Nikon D300.

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  23. Many thanks Matt for the mention of my free Nikon tethered shooting script for Windows which I posted on my blog diyphotobits.com.

    The latest version is described here:
    http://www.diyphotobits.com/2008/10/29/diyphotobitscom-camera-control-20-embarrassment/

    It is all pretty basic but it does work at least on my D300 and D40 under XP to do tethered download, remote shutter release, and basic camera control such as shutter/aperture, WB, ISO and very primitive exposure comp. I use it with Bridge but many people use it with Lightroom too.

    Some Vista users have said they can’t get it to work and others say it is fine so I’m not sure about that. I’ve had reports of it working on D2x, 60, D70, D80, D700 and D200 so I think it should work on anything that supports PTP — probably even Canon though that would be pointless given the EOS tools are free.

    I still want to add support for time lapse and bracketing as well as auto postprocessing (e.g. run a droplet on each file as downloaded) but really should fix the bugs first! All of this in my copious free time…

    Anyway thanks again and I hope my efforts help some Windows / Nikon shooters!

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  24. JasonP – Thanks I will try that…

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  25. JasonP – Well I tried it and it will not work. I am not happy with Canon right now! The problem is I have a 20d and Canon will not release a WIA driver for Vista 64. This is wrong in my opinion! I know Canon wants to sell the latest body but to stop supporting the older units is wrong. I will eventually upgrade but I am really leaning to a Nikon 300 or 700 now all I have to do is get rid of 20 years worth of Canon glass. Sorry I am ranting now.

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  26. Eos Utility is a great little piece of software. It does time lapse shooting and tethered shooting. Default it transfers everything you shoot to your hard drive, but I would like to add that there is an option in the Preferences of Eos Utility to leave a copy on the memory card as well. Look for it in the menu. Not everybody seems to know this.

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  27. Tried the D3 way (figured it could be working the same as the D700) but still no go. It asks me the folder where I want to put it. In LR I have a bar, after taking the picture it will complete but nowhere a photo to be found! :-(

    I truly hope a solution for the D700 will come!!

    Keep up the good work

    Vincent

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    • using DIYPhotobits with a D700 on Win7 (64bit)
      Works like a dream!
      Thanks heaps Photobits man

      Post a Reply
  28. Is there a wireless way?

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  29. I shoot Olympus and the only way to shoot tethered at all is with Olympus’ own Studio 2. The UI is not impressive but the software works fine.

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  30. Matt,

    Would you know anything about Sony Alphas? I’d love to find out if it works. That would make things a million times easier.

    off topic, but did your half marathon finish anywhere around the art museum by any chance? I ask this because I went to the art museum last sunday and there was a whole bunch of marathon stuff. it didn’t cross my mind once until I looked at your blog today haha.

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  31. Isn’t there any way to do this with sony alphas?
    I have an alpha 100.

    Vincent

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  32. Arghhhhhhhhhhh! I wish I had seen this post BEFORE I ordered Nikon’s Camera Control Pro 2 for a mere $159! It should be delivered today. Oh well…can’t cry over spilled milk I guess. :D

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  33. hello matt,
    i have a question
    i subscribe in one year ago @ itunes store about podcast of lightroom killer tips
    I see that a lot of the video never show up in itunes store.
    Is it my computer that has problems or is there another reason?
    i thought you make a new video every week or so, but in 2008 i had only 3 in january
    1 in feb, 0 for march and april, 1 for may june and july, 2 august, 2 sept, 1 oct 2 nov.
    do you know why itunes does not get all the videos?
    let me know
    thanks
    matteo

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  34. Matt, this is off subject, but wanted to say Happy Thanksgiving!!! Thanks for sharing so much of yourself with so many of us. I know I speak for a lot of people when I say: we are thankful for you!

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  35. Matt,

    Any idea’s on how to connect a Canon 50D to a 64-bit Vista PC to shoot tethered? Seems like Canon and Nikon have not yet embraced the 64-bit operating system, which does not make sense. After all, the push for a larger mega pixel count, makes RAW files larger, which in turn encourages us to jam more RAM into our PC’s, and thus my switch to the 64-bit OS, which breaks the 4GB RAM barrier.

    Sure, Zoombrowser and EOS utility work on a 64-bit Vista box, but the actual 64-bit driver for the camera does not exist. How confusing is that? They write 64-bit software to view the pictures, but no compatible software to allow 64-bit operating system to communicate with the camera.

    Can you influential guys do anything about this? I mean Adobe sure saw the light (by releasing 64-bit versions of Lightroom & CS4), what’s with Canon & Nikon? Why are they so non committal about releasing 64-bit drivers for their pro cameras? I think this is a worthy cause to get fired up about. What’s the point in getting all this 64-bit software for photographers, it you can’t plug your camera into your 64-bit machine to start off with? Sure, you can whip yer flash card out and shove it into a card reader, but I’m talking about tethered shooting (full camera control from your PC).

    Help please!!!

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  36. It’s very nice that you wrote this tutorial exactly when I was looking for shooting tethered.
    I use Vista 64 and EOS Utility 2.5.1.1 and having no problem! Except that it takes like 7 seconds from when I shoot until the image pops in Lightroom.
    Thanks again for this post!

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  37. Hey Matt,

    The problem I’m having is that the cramera is not recognized. I’m shooting with the canon 40D and everytime it indcates camera is not recognized. I can see the camera in my folders. Please help if you can. By the way thanks for the post although I can use it right now.

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  38. I use DSLR Remote Pro with my Canon 40D. It’s quite good.

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  39. Hmm, add one more failed MountainStorm+D700 combo. I’ve also fallen victim to the permanently disabled identity plates…

    Another weird occurrence is while trying to get it working the top LCD screen on my camera would start to flicker rapidly. Not sure what that was all about.

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  40. Very cool, I’ve been looking all over for a free program to use tethered shooting with my nikon for almost a month now. As a college student I don’t really have the extra cash to shell out for Camera Control Pro seeing as I’m a mac-only user. This new plug-in does seem to have a few bugs that need to be worked out but I’m hoping that will be fixed with an update or two. Thanks Matt and thanks Tom for bringing this new plug-in to my attention.

    - Jeremy

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  41. can you use the nikon d40 with apple aperture 2.0. i know you can shoot tethered but i cant get my camera 2 work with it.

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  42. I use the canon software combined with lightrooms auto import folder on my macbook…It works well but is a little slow (seems like about 10 seconds before the picture actually shows up on screen) I haven’t used it much but it does work.

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  43. You wrote:
    …”and I think the Adobe folks here it loud and clear”

    Shouldn’t it be “hear it loud and clear”?

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  44. Only works with Mac OS 10.5 not 10.4 as I have tried.

    Also, more than two pictures shot in a row while the camera is in “thinking” mode (light on) will not be recognized by the plug-in. I can shoot two pictures in a row with my Nikon D3 but no more. So the plug-in is helpful for single shots only.

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  45. For the Sony Alpha users: One is able to shoot tethered with the Alpha 700 using a utility known as Remote Camera Control, which is included as part of the Sony Image Data Suite. Personally, I do not use Image Data Suite, as I prefer Lightroom, but I do use the Remote Utility component, which I imagine works in a similar fashion to the equivilent Canon/Nikon offerings.

    Strangly, it would appear that there is currently no support for tethered shooting for the A-900.

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  46. Can anyone assist with the following:

    When importing into Lightroom, it is possible to convert to DNG automatically during import. When shooting tethered however, that option does not seem to exist. Any suggestions?

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  47. Did anyone found a way to able the identity plates again? I lost mine!!!!

    Cheers
    Vincent

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  48. I use a Workflow made with Automator.

    It’s not a complete tethering solution because it’s not possible to control the camera adjustments from the computer but it works fine with my Nikon D80, Mac with Leopard and Lightroom.

    Open Automator, just double click “Take Picture” in the actions pane. By default this action will save the picture in the “Pictures” folder, so we need another action to move the picture to another folder, for that double click “Move Finder Items” in the actions pane and create a folder called for example “Tethered Pictures”. That’s it, save this as a Workflow called for example Tethering.workflow.

    Open Lightroom, go to File/Auto Import/Auto Import Settings, in Watched Folder choose the “Tethered Pictures” folder, in Destination create a new folder called for example “Imported Pictures” and set Initial Previews to Standart, click OK. Go back to File/Auto Import/Enable Auto Import.

    The “Tethered Pictures” folder must be an empty folder because it will be watched by the Lightroom and every file in that will be imported.

    Now, every shooting time, open Tethering.workflow and Lightroom. I use Spaces to separate each one and Develop Window in the Lightroom.

    Run the workflow.

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  49. Anyone else experience serious difficulties in finding the EOS Viewer Utility available for download? Canon site seems to only have the updater files. I hope I didn’t throw out that ancient CD that came w/ my camera…

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  50. Newton,

    After having no luck using MountainTether with a D700, I used your Automator and had some success. However, there are a few things I can’t figure out:

    1) Is there a way to stop the “Take Picture” action from actually taking the picture?

    2) Is there a way to keep the action running until I tell it to stop? All is does for me is play once and then stop.

    Thanks in advance for your help,
    John

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  51. I’ve just finished a new version of Lightroom and Studio Tether. It should solve most the issues people have had i.e. issues with progress bars, name plates, crashes etc.

    The plugin now automatically starts/stops and configures my StudioTether program which is used to provide feedback. The standard mode (the default) should work for most cameras except the modern Canons (I’m still trying to figure them out). The enhanced mode only currently works for Nikons but tells you your current shutter speed, iso, fstop and photo destination (memory card or PC). You can even click on these and change them.

    I’ve also added LiveView support – although it appears to stall after a minute or so … Im working on fixing that at the moment.

    Please have a go and report back to me

    Rich

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  52. Thank you Matt.

    And Rich, for Mountainstorm.

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  53. how much does the cpu influence load times? just loaded CCP2 and LR2.3 on my old powerbook 1.3ghz with 1.25g ram . raw image from d300 takes 17 seconds to load. how much improvement would a 2.0g macbook get me? thank you. jim/atlanta

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  54. if you shoot tethered a lot then capture 1 pro is the only way to go, it is awesome

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  55. I’ve been shooting using Breeze Systems’ DSLR Remote Pro, tethered to my Canon 20D (yep, I could do with an upgrade). I also have it set up so that it saves the image to my lightroom “watched” folder (see LR help for setting up autoimport). This way, when I shoot thru DSLR Remote Pro the image is also automatically imported into my lightroom library. I have the develop module opened so that I can quickly perform an edit if need be. The last shot taken appears which is very convenient. This has automated my workflow so much. I also use this system for teaching. I connect my computer to a digital data projector and can shoot directly to the screen and edit. If you know the size of the LCD on a Canon Eos 20D then you’ll understand my need for this. Obviously, this system is impractical for anything other than fixed location shooting but that’s exactly when this set up shines.

    I’ve also just bought 2x5m active extension usb cables to give me more room around the classroom but I would welcome any links or suggestions to a wireless transfer from camera to pc.

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  56. I found a way to not only shoot tethered with a Nikon and a Mac but also to directly import the images over the network to Lightroom on another Mac using Automator folder action:

    http://phototechstuff.johnklijnen.com/2009/10/howto-import-images-into-lightroom-from.html

    So if you work in the studio with a laptop and want to see the images imported into your Lightroom database on your desktopcomputer based in the office, this works like a charm and it makes you look very Pro!!
    Hope this helps.

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  57. Everything is fine except that stupid import dialog box popping up in LR for every single photo I take. I don’t see anything to turn that off. I turned off the option to automatically import when a card is inserted but that was the closest thing I could find. HELP!

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  58. Just Google MountainStorm Lightroom Tether and the site will come up. The link provided is not good.

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  59. Is LR3 going to have a built in option for shooting in tether mode? We really need it in this version.

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  60. Give Sofortbild a try. Works pretty good and faster than Mountain Storm.

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  61. If you own a Nikon you should check out Tether Pro. At $50 it’s fairly inexpensive and you can shoot tethered, make groups, rate images, display images, save jobs and load jobs and much more. Support is slow but I’ve gotten it to work on XP, Vista (albeit not perfectly), and Windows 7. Use the trial to make sure it works for your system before you shell out your hard earned cash :)

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  62. I don’t know why that on this version LIGHTROOM 3 I cannot shoot tethered anymore.Not like the version,its easy to configure.And by the way,when you play slideshow,LIGHTROOM 2 is better than ver 3,because in version 3 you can only play one music.

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