An Elegant Solution for Tethered Shooting
I don’t usually do product reviews, as I’m not that hardware oriented, and this month I have two, reviews… sort-of… Anyway, my friend sent me a modest little block of machined aluminum that proves to be very useful in solving a vexing problem when capturing images, while tethered to a computer. Now, this is admittedly only a problem for a fairly narrow segment of the professional photography community, but it is something I have experienced, and at the time I was most active in this area, there was nothing like this available or I would have bought one right away!
Just what is this problem? Well… if you’ve ever captured images directly into a computer, you know that you’ve got to connect the camera to your computer via some sort of cable. I was shooting with the Canon 1Ds mkII, the first viable hi-res DSLR that could compete with the medium format digital backs – it had a great Firewire interface, which made it useable in a tethered capture mode. Firewire was much faster than USB so the data transfer to the computer was reasonably fast, but the little mini-Firewire plug was fairly delicate! In my high-stress studio shooting environment, with assistants running around moving lights and changing setups, the cable was always getting pulled out, sometimes in the middle of some quick shooting sessions! I had to have the camera repaired once, when I lost connectivity due to a fried plug! My solution, at the time was to gaffer-tape the cable to the tripod, but this wasn’t useful when I shot hand held—which I often did just for speed in covering multiple setups in a short period of time. I started shooting more to cards and using the video-out directly to a TV monitor just to preview shots and ended up downloading files from the cards as a separate activity. The video preview was essentially the same image that would have been sent to the tiny LCD on the back of the camera, but most of the time it was good enough for what I was doing and the video “socket” didn’t seem to suffer as much when the cable was pulled out.
TetherBLOCK is a clever locking device that secures the cable to the camera, by passing it through a channel cut out of a block of metal, that attaches to the camera tripod socket.