Tethering Troubleshooting

February 24, 2015  •  Leave a Comment

I've just written a post on Headshotcrew, where I am a Mentor and Associate photographer, about tethered shooting troubleshooting and products that I use when shooting tethered, as there were quite a few posts about problems some members were experiencing when shooting tethered.
I do not profess to be any sort of expert when it comes to tethered shooting, I know there are far more clever and proficient people than me out there, but this post is about the products I've used to overcome my problems I encountered when shooting tethered. If this information helps just one person out there, then I've succeeded. Here's the post I wrote:

"Hi all

I see lately there have been a few posts regarding tethered shooting, problems whilst shooting tethered, signal loss, etc.
I'm pretty sure most of you will have worked this out for yourselves and know the equipment that I'm going to mention, but for those of you who are new to this, here are a few points I'm going to put forward, and this is from my own experience.
I'm going to absolutely tout a certain company here - but just so that all of you know, I am NOT sponsored by them, have no business dealings with them except when they take my money (and I happily part with it), but when a company offers such good products, then I'll happily shout it out.


Firstly - the cable. Your cable is going to make or break your tethered session. If you're not using a super-speed cable, you'll most likely suffer from signal degradation (data loss), and your camera and computer will stop data communication. You know that cheap cable you bought from the corner store? Uh-uh. Toss it.

Here's a link to the product finder:

Secondly - extending the cable. If you're using a USB2 or USB 3 port to tether to, and you need to extend your tether cable's reach, then make sure you get an active extension cable

You plug your brand new superspeed cable into a normal extension cable, and it'll be goodbye tethered session. The quicker you can get the data transferred, and with the least signal degradation, the happier you and your client will be.

I found that out the hard way - shooting tethered into LR (way back when, before I knew about Capture One), and my files would not transfer from my D700 into LR. Was using the cable supplied by Nikon, into a standard extension cable. Not pretty, red-faced to say the least. Imagine the data loss when I upgraded to a D800.....I got some TetherTools cables pretty quickly!

For those of you who tether via FireWire, there are cables available for you:

You get the drift, there are more pin configurations available. Your FireWire should supply enough power on it's own, however....you'll probably lose the connection if you're shooting into a laptop. The problem is the power supply. Shoot into a desktop with its main source, and you'll be fine.

Thirdly - Powered repeaters. I currently shoot a D800 into an iMac, and I found myself dropping files and losing the connection during shoots. Problem wasn't my cables or my computer, but a mismatch of the USB firmware. Apple uses USB3.0, Nikon is using 3.1. If you've been having the same problem, well, your answer is a powered USB3 hub. You can pick them up at B+H or Amazon, here's a link to the one I got from B+H

If you're not wanting or can't  use a hub, but need that power boost that is consistent enough to maintain a stable and reliable connection, well then, there's a product just for you as well!! It works on any operating system, is powered by the camera or can be hooked up to a power bank/ external power.

No more drama. No more dropped data.

If you're shooting FireWire into a laptop, then you'll probably need one of these from Capture Integration
$100. No-brainer

So - if you're dropping data, hanging up during a session, it'll probably be the power (if you have the correct cables of course!). Get a powered repeater.

Fourthly - Cable movement. Your data is going to be exceptionally susceptible to any form of cable movement at the connection points. A slight jiggle or jerk and you'll be restarting your tethered session. Trust me.......and you need not ask how ;)

You cannot shoot tethered without this following product IMO

Have a look at their other cable management products, find what you need, but this kit (or the individual items if you don't want the kit) are essential.

Don't forget trusty Gaffer tape as well! Tape up your connection points between your extended cables. Make sure there's no room for any wiggle movement

Hope this helps if you've been having issues. As I said before, this information comes from my own experiences and what I've used to sort my tethering issues out."

EDIT - Memory Cards: This comes to me via Andy Foster on Headshot Crew, and although I've never had a problem with having cards on my camera whilst tethering, he suggests another step you can take to minimize a data transfer error is to remove your CF/SD cards from your camera whilst tethering. The computer would apparently try and read them like an external drive, and that would create a bottleneck as well, and the images would take up to 30sec to transfer if he was using large capacity cards.
Try it if you're having that issue, it sounds extremely plausible, and it's something I'll be doing on my next shoot.



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