7 Things You Need To Know About Tethering In Lightroom


Mornin’ everybody. I get a steady stream of questions about tethering into Lightroom (that’s where you connect your camera directly to your computer and when you shoot, your images appear really large on screen, instead of seeing them on the tiny 3″ monitor on the back of your camera). So this morning, I thought I’d quickly go through seven things you’ll probably want to know. Here goes:

  1. Not every camera can tether to Lightroom
    Here’s a list from Adobe of the cameras it supports for tethering. It’s pretty much Canon and Nikon cameras, with a few Leica camera models (the tethering in Lightroom requires camera manufacturers to provide Adobe with support for tethering to their cameras, so it’s not something Adobe can just decide to do on their own without their support).
  2. You can “super shrink” or hide the Tether bar (the heads up display)
    If you hold the Option key (PC: Alt key) and click on the little “x” in the top right corner of the bar, it will shrink the bar down to just a shutter button (yes, you can fire your camera’s shutter with that button). If you want to hide the bar altogether (but keep the tethering still active), press Command-T (PC: Ctrl-T).
  3. That Table that holds my laptop is from Tethertools.com
    I always get asked where I got that table. There’s a company called Tethertools that does nothing but create accessories for people who tether, like the table. They also make an optional little slot under the table for holding an external hard drive; and (my favorite) a nicely designed pop-out drink holder (it’s handier than you’d think).
  4. How to recover from a stall
    At some point, without warning, your tethering will just stop. It’s not your fault, but you will have to know how to recover from a “stall.” First, make sure you camera is awake. If it goes to sleep to protect the battery life of the camera, it puts tethering to sleep, too. If waking it doesn’t work — turn the camera on/off. If that doesn’t work, turn off Lightroom’s tethering (choose Stop Tethered Capture from the File menu), and then turn it back on in the same place. Lastly, unplug and replug the USB cable from your camera and your laptop. One of those will usually do the trick and get you back up and running. BTW: my wife is a pilot and takes great umbrage with my use of the phrase “recovering from a stall” for tethering. Just sayin’.
  5. Canon cameras write a copy to the memory card in the camera. Nikon’s don’t.
    It’s just the way they’re set up by the manufacturer — it’s not Adobe showing a preference. On my 5D Mark III it writes to the compact flash card in the camera and I dig that because it gives me an automatic backup as I shoot, which is nice. NOTE: if you have trouble tethering to Nikon — try popping the card out of the camera.
  6. You might already have the cable you need to tether
    Nearly all cameras ship with the exact cable you need to tether — it’s simply a USB cable with a mini USB on one end (that connects to the mini-USB port on your camera) and a regular USB on the other to plug into your computer. So, go look in the box your camera came in (it’s in your closet) to see if you kept it (you probably did). If you didn’t, you can buy a USB cable online — just ask for one with a mini USB on one end, and a regular USB on the other. The one I use (the long orange cable seen above), is from tethertools. It’s orange so you can see it easier in a dark studio.
  7. Once tethered, you can do live client proofing to an iPad
    You can hand your client an iPad and have them see images from your shoot live on the iPad as you’re shooting (btw: clients super love this!). Not only that — they can see the shoot live on the Web, even if they’re not there (or, if they are there, they can share the shoot with a colleague or friend off site. I have a short video that explains the entire process below.

Hope you find that helpful, and hope it inspires you to give tethering a try. Once you do, you can’t imagine not tethering (yes, it’s that good!).



  1. how long do adobe normally take to add new Canon cameras? just ordered a new 80D having broken my 40d just assumed it would tether in the same way my old camera did!

    1. There’s not a standard length of time – it’s whenever the camera manufacturer gets Adobe the specs, but then Adobe has to release an update to the App (which they do fairly frequently), but with the 80D just coming out, it’s probably going be a while yet. Of course, I could be wrong (this is frequently the case).

  2. Hi Scott;

    First off, just finished your DP Photo Recipes book; great help & your humor deepened my deep crowfeet; do you know a cheep plastic surgeon in FL?
    BTW, We both like Fender guitars & Marshall amps!
    Please, forgive the long rant. Do you have optional 32h days in FL? I work ~12-16 h days & it ain’t enough! How do you do it? Does your wife fly you around in a G550 jet or a Sikorsky?

    Having an eyesight handicap (partially blind in R-eye, the
    injury is next to the macula/optical nerve – can’t see much straight out), I
    need a tablet/ext monitor tethered via USB/HDMI (or Wi-Fi) to my 1. Sony Alpha
    APS-C e-mount &/or Nikon D700 or Nikon 1 J4 cameras, so that I can see
    clear & sharp & accurate copy of the LCD screen & the camera
    settings -before- I shoot. I shoot in hybrid RAW + JPG & bracketed HDR (AF
    [cannot see/focus MF] + rest manual; f2-22; ISO 100-800; bulb, 1/4K-30 secs
    shutter). Have all the HW & SW, the remotes work but the LCD even on the FX
    D700 is too small for me.

    My specialty is deep backcountry (on foot) alpine (Rockies)
    & desert (US-SW) pix of unusual formations & wide panos &
    blue/golden light. I am a ret. geologist & semi-pro photographer finishing
    my 1st book being printed in Germany by CEWE. The tablet has to be Android OS
    for the remote control app & SD card slot for backup (128 GB is fine). I do
    all editing on home PC in Lr, Topaz Labs, Nik & CaptureOne Pro9.

    I’ve looked at the Galaxy Tab S2 8″, very impressed but
    400$$ blows the budget since I need a new wide-angle prime glass for the Sony:
    700-1000$$ – the 1st camera I take backpacking. All 3 w/ diff. lenses each on
    day hikes.

    I am looking for a 7-8″ tablet/ext monitor for ~200$ –
    even used/refurb, w/ best HD screen available; don’t care about other use/apps
    but as my 2nd eye & backup.

    If you could kindly point me in the right direction (I’ve
    been doing my homework for 2 months), I’d be very grateful.

    I’m heading to S-UT/N-AZ in 2 weeks, Zion, GSENM,
    Waterpocket Fold, Lake Powell, White Pocket, Cedar Mesa Anasazi ruins,
    Canyonlands. Been going there for 26 years & just scratching the surface.
    Some of the most surreal morphology on this planet.

    Thank you & have a great magic-light weekend.

    Robert of Prague

  3. Hi Scott, As usual, very informative. Are there any concerns/issues shooting tethered to LR CC with a NikonD810 and the current MAC OS. I was advised to stay away from the new OS as it was questionable.

  4. Hi Scott,

    Great article, thanks for sharing your knowledge! I would just like to point out something that I learned the hard way: while the camera USB connector is *usually* mini-B, this is not a universal truth. For example, Nikon D750 uses a rather non-standard connector (sort of like micro-B, but narrower). I cannot imagine why Nikon decided to go with this, as they do not prominently sell tether cables themselves, and a nonstandard connector is likely to both more expensive and more difficult to source.

    Just a heads up that in some cases, the bunch of mini-B cables you have lying around are not what you actually need; handily enough, Tethertools does seem sell the required cable…

  5. Hi Scott,
    I can’t find any research giving me knowledge as to adding photos to a previous tethered folder created. I shoot product photography and I’m trying to categorize in main and subgroups. Throughout the season, I may get some scragglers where I need to go back to a previous tethered capture and add these images to that group created at that time. Is there a way to do this or is it pretty cut and dry that anytime you tether is alway has to create a new subgroup or subfolder?

  6. I am so frustrated with Lightroom. I have the new version, Canon 5dm4, new macbook pro, tethertools cord, and the power adaptor thingy and battery. It still randomly disconnects at will. Its always a flip of a coin if it will work or not. I shoot with it almost daily. If it wasnt for the ease of adding different shoots into subfolders with the “New Session” feature and the XY photo comparison, Id dump it for Capture One in a heart beat.

  7. Hello Scott,
    I saw where they were able to focus with the tools on the laptop, choosing the exact point of focus. Can this be done with Lightroom and a Canon 5D Mark II?

  8. With respect, in my experience Lightroom is horrible for tethering. I shoot Canon 5 bodies. Lightroom excels in tethering only in that it will fail. Repeatedly. It is excellent at failing. It is not a solution for professionals on paying jobs as it will interrupt and slow everything down repeatedly.

    I use Capture One. Solid as a rock. Basically never fails. Big difference is that Capture One does not write simultaneously to your tethered hard drive and to your CF cards. It bypasses your CF cards completely, which takes a little getting used to. But I’ve never lost an image tethered to local hard drives using Capture One. And it’s never made me look like a nincompoop in front of clients.

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