San Francisco, CA


Jay Watson on InstagramJay Watson on Twitter Jay Watson on Google+

Shooting Tethered With Adobe Lightroom or Bridge

Note: Updated November 2014 for Adobe Bridge CC and Lightroom (LR3, LR4, LR5)

Shooting tethered to a laptop is something I fought against for years. Last Fall all of that changed. This is a tutorial on how to shoot with a DSLR camera tethered to an Apple Macbook Pro (MBP) laptop (or other Mac running OSX) using either Adobe Lightroom or Adobe Bridge. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be shooting tethered for studio work, and if you’re a photographer with a laptop shooting tethered on location is almost just as easy. I now find myself shooting to a laptop for nearly all commercial and editorial work on location.

– The Bummer
While I really wanted the advantage of large screen previews, I avoided shooting tethered for several reasons. It seemed like one more complicated thing to deal with and for location work I didn’t want to bring more items to a shoot. More equipment can mean less interaction with your subject. Software for tethered shooting was another barrier. I didn’t want to purchase or learn how to use another piece of software? Early results were also clunky and temperamental, so I drew my line in the sand. It wasn’t for me. Lastly, I didn’t want a crowd hoovered around a computer screen making comments and slowing down the pace of a photo shoot.

+ The Bonus
Tethered shooting became so much easier when Lightroom 3 (LR3) was released. All the bugs disappeared. There was less of a peanut gallery than I anticipated and more eyeballs are a good thing. Everything looks great at a small size, but small problems appear bigger and more easy to identify on a bigger screen. Something else happened that I didn’t expect. Subjects are more relaxed because they can see themselves clearly. They are more aware of the mistakes (seeing this is normal), able to see the hero images that become top selections, and are more engaged in the process which allows them to feel more comfortable. So if shooting tethered only requires 5 extra minutes of prep and 5 extra lbs of gear in order to make better images then I am sold! Oh yeah, at the end of the shoot I don’t have to download images anymore since it’s already been done while on set. On to the tutorials …


Option 1: Adobe Lightroom (LR3, LR4, LR5) – The simple method
LR is the easiest solution for shooting tethered. Go here for the Adobe list of cameras supported for tethered capture.

Step 1) Make sure you are using the latest version by going to Lightroom–>Help–>Check for updates.

Step 2) Start with an empty reformatted memory storage card in your camera. Set the camera’s USB settings in the Menu to “MTP/PTP” (Nikon) or “Communication: PC Connect” (Canon). Turn camera “Off.”

Step 3) Connect the camera cable to your camera body and the other end to your computer’s USB port.

Step 4) Go to LR–>File–>Tethered Capture–>Start Tethered Capture

Step 5) Choose your settings in the “Tethered Capture Settings” dialog box. Notice you can create presets that allow you to batch rename, append your contact info (also usage, caption, description, etc…) to the metadata, and apply keywords. This happens automatically to all new images shot and imported via tether. Does this slow down the flow of data. Nope! Set them up and click “Ok.”

Step 6) Turn camera “on” and start shooting! You’ll see your camera visible in the upper left corner of the “Tethered Capture Window.” Savvy photographers will create a develop preset to apply to each new imported image.

Tips: To avoid any confusion between tethered shooting sessions, shoot a test image, process it in the Develop module, then go back to the Tethered Capture Window and choose “Same as previous” for the Develop setting. Choose the “Auto Advance Selection” so that LR will preview each new image as it is captured.


Option 2: Adobe Bridge
Yes Adobe Bridge can be used for shooting tethered, and it’s a free option available to anyone with Photoshop.  For that reason it’s worth a try if you don’t want to purchase any new software. While it’s not as seamless as Lightroom, it allows incoming images to be opened up directly in Photoshop or to be instantly sent through Bridge’s export options to Facebook, Flickr, etc…

Step 1) Create a new folder on your hard drive for the tethered photo session.

Step 2) Start with an empty reformatted memory storage card in your camera. Set the camera’s USB settings in the Menu to “MTP/PTP” (Nikon) or “Communication: PC Connect” (Canon).

Step 3) Connect the camera cable to your camera body and the other end to your computer’s USB port.

Step 4) Go to Applications. Launch Image Capture. From the dialog box select your tethered camera under Devices, then create or select a destination folder by going to Import To–>Other. Choose the new folder you created in step 1. 

How to shoot tethered to Adobe Bridge tutorial.








Step 5) From Image Capture go to: File–>Take Picture. Choose “Manual,” check “Download new images to,” then choose the same destination folder from step 5.

How to shoot tethered to Adobe Bridge tutorial.






Step 6) Go to  Adobe Bridge. From the “Refine” icon below the menu bar choose: Auto Preview Latest File. You are now telling Image Capture to send each new capture to a destination folder, using Bridge to watch that same folder, and Auto Preview Latest File to advance to each new image. Got that?

How to shoot tethered to Adobe Bridge tutorial.

Note: There is no auto advance setting to view each new capture at a large size in the Preview panel. No big deal. Use the arrow keys to navigate to each new capture. To minimize this pain in Bridge, go to the View menu, select sort by “date created” and unselect “ascending order.”

Tips: Every time the camera is turned “off,” you’ll have to repeat step 6 when you turn it “on.” Close the unnecessary panels in Bridge. Decrease the Content panel (thumbnail views) size and increase the Preview panel to allow incoming images to be viewed as large as possible.


Helpful Equipment:

16′ or 25′ USB Booster Extension Cable
This is a must! Standard USB camera connection cables are too short for practical work. Since transfer speeds are slower over distance, typical USB extension cables are a poor choice. An “active” USB extension cable or “booster” cable is self powered through the connection, allows a cleaner signal, decreases the risk of corrupted files, and maintains a steady download speed. Active USB extension cables can be daisy chained up to 75.’

IOGEAR USB Extension at Amazon





 Tether cables, platforms, grip, & accessories Laptop cases, platforms, and laptop shades ThinkTank’s Sun Screen (laptop shade) USB extension cables. Great prices for any type of cables.

• • •

16 Responses to Shooting Tethered With Adobe Lightroom or Bridge

  1. Joseph-the camera should not matter. What part are you having trouble on. Need more specifics. Make sure you are using the most updated version of Adobe Lightroom. Check for updates. Good luck.


  2. Thanks alot really works i just tested it on my canon XTI just plugged it in tethered in lightroom and boom thank you for sharing

  3. I downloaded the Auto Preview Latest File free plug-in, installed it, and see where it is to use it. I connected Nikon Camera Control Pro 2, my D300 is connected, and the images download like normal, but the Auto Preview Latest File does not display the latest file… I know you say it will display the “second to last capture instead of the “latest” capture” but it is not advancing. Seems like this should be a pretty easy thing for Adobe to have working.

  4. Jay, Thanks for posting this. I was using Lightroom on a new project but I ran into an issue. I am required for part of my job to save files as Targa (.tga) It’s a format I have never used and came to find that Lightroom doesn’t support. A friend of mine said that her studio uses the Canon software for tethering and then Bridge for the rest. So thanks again for the how to. ~S.

  5. @Dan – Yes it should be easy but I am not sure why it won’t auto advance for you. It worked for me when I tested it but you are using a different combination which could be effecting things. Maybe try clearing the cache and then optimize your cache settings in the Bridge preferences. Good luck.

  6. I have tried your procedure with my D100. Several problems:

    1) When I plug in the USB to my camera will only go to PC mode. There is no interactivity from the camera.

    2) You reference in Step 5 I don’t understand. Where does Applications live?

    I am using CS5 Bridge. Win 7 Pro.

    Thank you.


  7. @Wayne – Sorry but I can’t help you. The tutorial is for a Mac running OSX. The key to shooting tethered to Bridge is through the Mac software called Image Capture. Not sure if Windows has anything similar. Try to do a search for “shooting tethered Windows Adobe Bridge.” Good luck and thanks for the question.

  8. This may be a dumb question, but does shooting tethered allow for viewing on the computer screen only after a photo has been taken? I was thinking this might be a good setup for a DIY photo booth if it allowed for people to see what their picture would look like on the screen before they snapped it, sort of like the Photobooth app that comes with the Mac only better quality.

  9. Dave – thanks for the info about that plug in not being compatible with Bridge in CS6. Good to know. Hopefully it gets updated but like you mentioned LR is much better for shooting tethered (new readers: check your camera for comparability).

Leave a reply