Maximize efficiency by viewing your product photos immediately after they’re shot!
Product photography can be incredibly time consumptive with how many steps there are involved to making your products look purchase-worthy. One of the most crucial steps is reviewing your images, and deciding whether or not they came out correctly.
Often times the images on our camera’s LCD screen may appear to be in focus, or correctly lit, but upon opening them on our computer we might discover there were slight errors rendering the images useless.
That’s where tethering comes in!
What is Tethering?
Tethering is the process of connecting your camera directly to your computer through a USB, Firewire or wireless connection. Your camera communicates directly with an editing software so you can see your photos appear on screen immediately after they’re shot.
(Photo Above): Using Adobe Lightroom photos appear chronologically in the bottom panel. As you shoot you have the ability to select an individual RAW file, examine how it came out, and use the adjustment panel to modify lighting and color.
During this tutorial I’ll be using the following equipment:
- Canon EOS 6D
- ASUS Laptop
- Adobe Lightroom
- USB Cable (The “Tether”)
Adobe Lightroom is currently included with a $9.99 USD monthly subscription when you purchase Adobe Photoshop CC. These programs are essential to Professionals, but there are other options for software, especially if you’re using a camera that is not recognized by Lightroom.
I’ll be including some additional options for software, as well as listing cameras that allow tethering.
Step #1: Connecting Your Camera To The Computer
In order to establish a bridge between your camera and the editing software you need to (1) Turn the camera on, (2) Create a catalog for where images will be saved, and (3) Initiate a tethered capture.
Create a new catalog: File > New Catalog > Save to Location. This will create a new workspace that your images will appear in. Name the set according to what products you’ll be shooting, and save in a memorable location.
Tether your camera: File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture
Lightroom will require you to name the photo set, and save the files to a location. Save in the same folder as your catalog.
Once you hit OK, a capture strip will appear on the screen that shows what your camera’s current settings are prior to shooting your first photo.
Make sure you have adjusted your Aperture, ISO and Shutter Speed. If you need help determining the best camera settings, you can find those here.
Step#2: Save Time By Creating Presets
Once you’ve taken your first image and have begun adjusting the camera settings, you’ll begin to notice those setting should apply across the following images, whether it’s shooting the product from a different angle, or shooting a product of similar qualities.
In the upper right you’ll find the ‘develop’ tab, under which you can begin adjusting the basic color settings.
Try adjusting the ‘Tone’ settings first: Exposure, Contrast, Highlights, Shadows, Whites, and Blacks. Adjusting the White Balance, Saturation, Vibrance and Clarity may alter how your products look compared to their appearance real life, which is the opposite of our goals for capturing good product images.
Once you have settings you like, you can save them under a preset. To do so click the ‘Create New Preset(+)’ button on the left hand side.
Next, a window will appear that shows all the settings that will be saved with the preset title ‘New Develop Preset’. Name it something that applies to what kind of product or look you wish to apply to a new photo in the future:
The next image you shoot, you’ll be able to apply the same setting instantly by selecting: Develop Settings > User Presets > ‘Setting Name’ located on the camera settings panel.
Once you’ve shot all of your images, and have applied the presets, you can export all of the photos in the set as jpegs capable of being upload online.
Step#3: Export The Set of Images
The most satisfying step to this process is going through all of the images and selecting your favorites to be exported. To select multiple images to export at once, hold ‘Ctrl’ and select each image individually in the bottom panel.
Next, you can either right-click on the image screen and select Export > Export, or go File > Export.
The next window that appears will tell you how many images you’re exporting, and will give you several options for how they will be exported, including: File renaming, image size, image quality, additional sharpening and the resolution.
If you need assistance selecting the optimal export settings, especially for uploading to the web, read our post here.
What Other Options Are There?
As mentioned previously, not every camera is capable of tethering with Lightroom, and not everyone is going to want to pay for the subscription to Adobe Lightroom (Although we highly recommend it).
Camera’s Compatible With Adobe Lightroom
Adobe has a comprehensive list of all the camera’s currently supported with Lightroom. To see if your camera is supported, follow this link, and then hit ‘Ctrl F’ (PC) or ‘Command F’ (Mac) to find your particular model.
Additional Software For Tethering Your Camera
The team at Tethering Software has an excellent catalogue of additional software capable of tethering your particular camera. Their interface allows you to search by the Camera Manufacturer, Camera Model and OS of your computer.
If you’re looking for a free software, start there, and see what best fits your needs.