Hook me up

This week’s blog was going to be all about the wonderful world of printing using Aperture now that version 3 allows users to do some useful and funky stuff. But then the 10.4.6 update arrived with improved support for tethered shooting in Aperture and the whole printer idea was thrown out the window.

If you’re sensing a measure of excitement on my part you’d be right. Tethered shooting is a big deal. Why? It’s fun. Partly because it saves the trouble of removing the memory card and then having to insert it into a card reader, but also because it’s just got sexy gadgety goodness written all over it. You click the shutter (or the Capture button in A3) and up pops your picture on screen. Cool. More useful is that you get to preview your image instantly on a big display, or at least a display bigger than the one on your camera.

If you’ve ever taken a shot that your camera’s preview display indicated was sharp, only to find out later that the focus was a bit off, then you’ll be excited about an instant preview on a big screen.

Well, almost instant. If I shoot RAW on my 5D MkII, the camera has to shunt a 20MB+ file down a USB cable and Aperture has to convert it and render it, so there is some lag between shooting and viewing. But that’s not a big deal because the most common situation in which tethered shooting is used is within a studio set-up and, despite what you may have seen in the movies, most studio shooting is slow and deliberate, so a lag between taking and baking is no big deal.

When I tried tethering my 5D Mark II using Aperture 3 it was hassle-free. Plugged it in, set up the session via the File menu and I was off and running. Not so good with my 50D, though. That wouldn’t work at all, even though Apple qualifies it as being supported. Again, not a big deal. Studio work is the domain of the 5D.

Not that I do a lot of studio work. But I do enjoy setting up lights and picking up random objects to photograph. Occasionally, the results have real pictorial value but the main reason I do it is it forces me to think about light. How to use it, how to measure it, how to design lighting to suit the subject and how to shape it to my needs.

Above and beyond all of that, however, is that a digital sensor — and film for that matter — never performs better than when used under studio lighting. If you’ve never shot anything under studio strobes, try it. Lots of fun.

The final reason for my excitement is that Canon’s software for enabling tethering is, well … flaky. And that’s being kind. Great when it works, but …

That’s such a shame because the EOS utility gives loads more control over the camera from the computer than the plug’n’play tethering that Aperture supports.

What are you shooting? Have you tried tethering your camera with Aperture 3? Did it work? Come on, spill the beans. Share. Let us all know. If you’re wondering if your camera is supported for tethering in Aperture 3, Apple has a list up here.

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