Shooting tethered on a budget

Posted on Saturday, February 6th, 2010 at 11:25 pm
Once in a while, I set my light tent and do some product shots, just for the fun of it. When doing such shooting session, focus is critical.

Sigma 10-20Smith PMT and Sixsixone helmet120s

This is when no matter how big the screen is on the camera, you end up wishing it was larger. In cases like these, I would once in a while take the memory card out of the camera, import everything in the computer and check if the focus is crisp. What a pain…

Gateway LT2103h

Earlier this week, I bought a Gateway LT2103h Netbook. Why a Netbook? I wanted something mobile for my emails, to do a bit of office work, web stuff, very small and dirt cheap. I had no intention to do any kind of post processing on it as it would make no sense when my PC is already there with all the gadgets permanently attached to it. So the Netbook, do I like it? Hell yeah! It even runs Lightroom!

But then, being me, I thought: “There has to be another usage I can get from it…”


TETHERING! Canon cameras come with a tethering application. By connecting the camera to the computer via USB, you get to see the images directly on the computer screen and you are also given the option to save to the hard disk automatically. Unfortunately, the Canon application is designed for screen resolution of a minimum of 1024X768. CRAP! I only have 1024X600 and there is no way to bypass that except by attaching an external display… So I searched the web and found an application by Breezesys called DSLR Remote Pro. Works on any resolution and allows you to fully control the camera features from the computer, including the live view. That was the solution.

But now, the problem the is that it looks silly to have a camera attached to a laptop and the laptop sitting on a table. Scott Kelby and Joe McNally have these cool Manfrotto and Gitzo adapters to mount your laptop on the tripod but there is no way I can justify such expense; let’s face it, I don’t have sponsors. Me, I have a budget.

Tripod shelfTripod shelf

My tripod already has a center column that can flip to the horizontal and a camera grip that flips back to vertical so I am half way there.

No more than 10$. Where do you go when you only have 10$? Dollorama of course. I got a 2$ cutting board and a 1$ anti-slip foam pad. I then went to Home Hardware to get the clips and pop rivets for about 6$. I Drilled holes in each clips, the size of the rivets and in the cutting board. I attached the 2 clips to the board using the pop rivets and voilĂ ! I wrapped a bit of rubber around the center column to fix the rig solidly to my Manfrotto 055XPROB.

Shooting tethered

There I am. My Netbook is mounted to my tripod and can control the camera and show the image right away in a larger format. Life is great, except, now I wish I could see the images on a 24″ monitor. That must be why Canon sells those wireless antennas for their cameras. If only there was a way to replicate that…

Shooting tethered

YEAH BABY! The Netbook comes with a Wireless-N network card. I have a Wireless-N router. By setting the destination folder on the Netbook to a mapped disk on my desktop, the images are going directly to the computer over the 150Mb connection. Then, in Lightroom, I set the auto-import on that mapped disk. I take a picture, it shows on both the camera and Netbook and a couple of seconds later it shows on the 24″ display.

Man, I have too much time on my hands…

The rig

Responses (11)

  1. Gilles says:

    Super ingénieux, bravo Steph.

  2. nzlemming says:

    Nice work. This is exactly what I would use an iPad for

  3. wybnormal says:

    picture do not do any good in the public if you have them set to private in Flckr :(

  4. Steph says:

    @ nzlemming: The iPad will be a nice piece of equipment for that purpose if it supports a USB connection to talk with the camera instead of only using the camera as a card reader.@ wybnormal: I don't get it. Everyone sees the photos on the blog; don't you?

  5. wybnormal says:

    I see them in the blog but I can not see them "large" on the flickr site they have been linked to. It kicks an error about the pictures being private.

  6. Steph says:

    Most of them are already posted on the blog at full resolution (800px long edge). They are marked as private on Flickr so they don't appear in my Flickr stream. This way, Flickr serves as an image farm.

  7. Mark Coons says:

    Great post!

    If you did not have the Manfrotto arm and wanted to mount your cutting board to a light stand how would you go about it?

    • Steph says:

      Good question. You could use a Manfrotto Superclamp (035RL) on top of the light stand and mount the laptop shelve (ie: cutting board) on a dowel going through the superclamp. You would have to be careful not to tip over the stand though.

  8. Mark Coons says:

    Thanks Steph, I have a superclamp so I will have to see if I can work something up. And I always sandbag my light stands so this shouldn’t be a problem.

    Thanks again.

Leave a Reply on the Blog

%d bloggers like this: