If there is one thing I could recommend for improving your composition, shooting tethered would be it. If you’re ready to take the plunge but you don’t know where to start or what equipment to buy – I’ve got you covered. I just recently dove in to shooting tethered myself so I figured I’d chat a bit about what equipment and software you’ll need.
To tether, you’ll need: your camera, a USB cable to tether your camera to your computer, a computer, a tripod with an arm attachment and counter weights. The arm is not a must purchase for tethered shooting but if you’re wanting to shoot tethered and capture flatlays, you’ll definitely want to strongly consider purchasing an arm attachment for your tripod. Let’s go over what equipment you’ll need, other than your camera and computer.
First, you’ll need a cable to connect your camera to your computer. You can’t just use any USB cable, however. Thankfully, there is this handy dandy website that tells you which cable you’ll need based on the camera you have. I have a Canon 6D Mark ii and purchased this USB cable from Amazon. I got the 15′ cable because I don’t know what the hell I was thinking. You could definitely get a shorter cable and save some dollars. My cable is laughably long since my computer sits a whopping 2 feet away from my camera. It’s fine. I’ll be all set if I need to work in the next room.
Tripod and Arm
Next, you’ll need a tripod and arm attachment. I purchased this tripod and this reproduction arm. Prior to buying this tripod, I basically had the cheapest tripod you can buy. It worked but this upgrade felt like I went from a bike to a Ferrari. The quality of both the tripod and the arm blew me away. They’re heavy and I mean that as a complement, as in, they feel substantial, solid, well-built. The tripod and arm don’t feel cheap. Well worth the money.
When you place your camera on one side of your arm without a counterweight on the other side, it’s going to fall over. Just as if you were to sit on one side of a see-saw without another person on the opposite side. You’re going straight for the ground my friend and so will your camera. So just like you would want a friend to sit on the other side of the see-saw to prevent you from crashing to the Earth; you’re going to want some weight on the other side of the arm to balance out the weight of your camera. I neglected to buy these and quickly realized the error of my ways. I was able to quickly rectify the situation by using two reflectors in their bags. Obviously that’ll be great until I, ya know, need one of the reflectors. So my next purchase is going to be two of these Manfrotto counterweights.
Finally you’ll need software. I personally chose to go with Capture One based on the reviews. You can buy it outright or get a monthly subscription. I picked the monthly subscription. For me, the subscription made the most sense because you will always get the most up-to-date version and it’s $20, billed monthly rather than having to drop almost $500 at once and only having that one version. Another note: you can try it free for 30 days. Something I realized only after I had made my purchase. Naturally.
That’s it! That’s all you need. In total, I spent almost $300 exactly to start to shoot tethered. The vast majority of that is a one time investment (save for the Capture One monthly subscription). I’ve wanted to make the leap for a while but kept putting it off. However, I have a big photoshoot coming up that is going to require a whole lotta flatlays so it made perfect sense for me to take the plunge now. After I get a little time under my belt I’ll share any tips and tricks I have for shooting tethered!