At last Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3 Beta 2 is delivering tethered shooting. Since Lightroom’s introduction, I have never been as pumped about a new feature. So Long Nikon Camera Control! So Long Auto-Import and Watched Folders! Finally, like Phase One’s Capture One, Lightroom is now a full-featured piece of studio software. In my humble opinion, Lightroom has arrived and is now complete.
Here is a quick step by step description of the new capability as it operates with my Nikon D3. And, as a spoiler, let me preface this by saying that, after a brief initial test, it appears to work very quickly and flawlessly. I am very impressed.Step One, select File > Tethered Capture > Start Tethered Capture. You’ll see this streamlined window:
There are pleasantly few options available here, but it’s worth noting that files can be sent from the camera directly to a hard drive folder of your choosing and can be renamed in the process. Also, you are presented the option of applying metadata (always a good idea in the Web age). I don’t know, yet, what the “Segment Photos by Shots” option is all about. As seen in the next screen grab, the options for naming are quite similar to other data management areas of Lightroom, very intuitive.
So, pick a method of naming, select a folder or create a new one:
A few quick thoughts that are not evident from the image. First, the camera appears in the left most selection box, with your chosen file naming bellow it. There are 4 simple info boxes for shutter, aperture, ISO, and White Balance. As far as I can tell, these settings can not yet be controlled from this dialog, but only from the camera body, though they do quickly update to reflect the actual settings on the camera. Next is a selection for “Develop Settings.” This allows you to select from presets you may already have in Lightroom. I’ve found this feature, while “auto importing” in the past, to be very useful. Clients are impressed when images are sharp, saturated, contrasty, and vinetted from the first showing. This would allow a digital tech to adjust White Balance and curves as images are coming into the computer. After the Develop Settings, there’s a big, round shutter button that controls the camera’s autofocus and shutter release. It works perfectly with the D3, Awesome. The last two buttons close the dialog box and open the file settings window.
Here is a look at the “Develop Settings” menu:
Now, the exciting news, at least for me. The numbers. Start this dialog, USB the camera to the computer (I have a very long USB for just this purpose). The dialog takes about 30 seconds to recognize the camera and display the settings. This is faster than Nikon Control Pro 2.0 and “Auto Import,” a definite improvement. Once the connection is live, images pop up on screen roughly 2-4 seconds after capture. Compared to Auto Import, this is Instant. Awesome. I would snap a photo and it would be on screen a second after I looked away from the viewfinder, processed, renamed, and stowed safely on my Mac’s scratch disk, which is auto-backed-up to our studio RAID server… all in about 3 seconds… and these are 14 bit, full-size NEF files, not JPGs. The control box is separate from Lighroom’s main window and can be left open by itself or dragged separately around your displays. It is, in my opinion, extremely smart and efficient. It just became my favorite new studio tool.
Improvements for the future? Perhaps it will one day integrate more camera control and liveview features, perhaps display more camera info. It is certainly not the same as Nikon Camera Control, which offers precise control of every aspect of the camera. It continues the proven Lightroom strategy of offering useful, efficient workflow tools without clutter and confusion (which are both saved, in abundance, for Poppa Photoshop).
For now, it is the perfect bridge between camera and Lighroom. My D3 continues to operate as normal, including all controls and menus. The playback feature is disabled, as the shots are not actually stored on the camera’s CF cards. This is a tremendous step forward for Lightroom and great news for anyone with a Mac and a Nikon.