All about tethered and remote capture
Exploring other methods of triggering the camera.
Yes, there are other options that will allow you to take photographs without even being at the camera, and on top of that, better ways to review your images while you're taking them.
TETHERED OR REMOTE?
Despite the fact that both techniques allow you to send images from your camera to a computer or smart device, there are some fundamental differences between the two.
Remote capture generally involves the use of a mobile app, and the images are sent over via a Wi-Fi connection. Because the images are sent over via Wi-Fi they generally are in the smaller JPEG format. You can generally set the camera to send a smaller copy over to your smart device (or computer) for preview purposes, while the full resolution image is saved on the memory card in the camera, or just stick to the smaller sizes if they will suit your needs.
For tethered capture, you connect a cable from your camera to your computer and send the full resolution images over to software like Adobe Lightroom and Capture One Pro that handle the tethering process. As you'll be sending larger files, transfer by cable is preferred as it's faster and more reliable. You will also be able to change camera settings and trigger the camera from within the software (with a Live View window).
WHEN FLEXIBILITY IS KEY
On the flipside, remote capture via app is almost 100 percent about the flexibility of placing your camera in locations that you wouldn't physically be able to reach while still remaining in control. For example, when we tested the weather-proofing of the FUJIFILM X-T1, we placed the camera in the freezer and were still able to take stills and video to prove that the camera was still working by using FUJIFILM's Cam Remote app.
Because you're transmitting the file wirelessly to the camera, it is best used when JPEG capture is sufficient, though you can still save a copy in RAW on your camera's memory card. The other advantage to using remote capture via app on your smart device is that then the entire display of your smart device becomes the equivalent of your camera's rear LCD – with touch – so you can now have much more accuracy in choosing AF points via touch AF.
THE PROCESS OF GOING REMOTE
For remote shooting, you really just need to have the appropriate camera app installed on your smart device. This will vary from brand to brand and sometimes model to model. The general procedure is to start the wireless function on your camera, then run the app on your smart device. You'll be prompted to join the wireless network created by your camera, following which you should get a live view image of what the camera is seeing, as well as options to adjust the various settings.
The main thing to note here is that you'll want to be in an area without too many wireless networks as that can interfere with the connection to your camera.
FOR ABSOLUTE ACCURACY
Well, obviously the first consideration is the final output file. If color and focus accuracy is a must; then tethered capture is the best way to go. The difference between being able to look at an image at 100 percent resolution on a notebook (or dedicated monitor) and trying to zoom in to view the image on the rear screen of any camera is huge. Monitors can also be calibrated for your environment to ensure color accuracy, which is something you can't quite do on your camera, so that's definitely the way to go if you absolutely need precision.
The other time when tethered capture is a better option is when you're working with a team and more than one person needs to look at the image at the same time. Obviously, having more than two people peering at the back of a camera is not ideal, so with a tethered workflow everyone can see what's going on at the same time.
GETTING STARTED WITH TETHERED CAPTURE
There isn't much to do to get started in terms of tethered capture. You just need the software that supports your camera, and the appropriate cable for your camera. This simply has to be long enough to allow you range of movement while shooting so we'd look at something around 1.5m to 2m in length.
On the software front, we'd recommend Adobe Lightroom or Capture One Pro, as both are industry-standard programs both in terms of tethered capture, and more importantly RAW file processing, so you'll get great support in both avenues. Both also support the largest number of camera models overall, so compatibility is likely to be less of an issue.
In terms of setting up, in both cases you connect the camera to your computer, fire up the software and then select to connect the camera. You'll then need to select a Capture folder as well as a Process folder. (The Capture folder is where your RAW files will be stored to, while the Process/Export folder is where you images will go after you develop the RAW files.)
We recommend you take extra care in terms of securing the cable to your camera though. As it's not uncommon to find people tripping over cables during such sessions. Gaffer tape is your friend here!