A very useful function of the Alpha DSLR line is tethered shooting.
"And what is that?" Some of you may ask.
First let's clear the word Tether.
Tether: A rope, chain, or similar restraint for holding one, especially an animal, in place, allowing a short radius in which one can move about.
[Middle English tedir, tethir, from Old Norse tjōdhr.]
Definition taken from www.dictionary.com
So, tether is to restrain something and have a short radius to move.
Now, in photography, tethered shooting is the ability to shoot with a camera fixed on a position and plugged to a TV/screen or a computer.
"And what use is that?"
Imagine that you are in a photo shoot in a studio, youre taking portaits of a couple's child. You want to show the pictures to the parents so they can see what you come up with or for them to make their minds regarding what they want to see in the pictures.
As big as LCD screens have gotten in recent years for DSLRs, a 3 inch screen isnt exactly the best way to display a picture to someone else NOT used to see pictures in a camera's LCD screen, in this cases a big screen (and by big I dont mean a 40" LCD screen, a 12" screen will do, of course, the bigger the better) a bigger screen will help A LOT.
The Alpha line has 2 ways of tethered shooting, one applies to ALL Alphas and the other one will work only with the A700 and A900.
So, you got a 25" screen in the studio and you want to show the parents the pictures you took without having to remove the memory card from the camera or through the LCD screen, because doing so will take time and the parents arent that patient.
What to do?
You take out that cable bundled with your Alpha, the one with the yellow digital plug and the USB-like end. You plug the ends in the proper places (USB-like to camera, yellow plug to yellow circular contact in the screen) and youre ready.
What will happen is that the information display you'd usually see in the LCD screen is now transferred to the screen, the LCD will go black (this is NOT a malfunction) as long as the cable is plugged to the camera, even if its not plugged to the screen.
Now you can take a picture of the sweet kid in the sailor clothing and immediatly display it on the screen.
I have tested this in my A700 and works. I don't know if it will as well on the A300/A350's Live View Mode, but I have no reason to think it wouldnt. The cable just takes the signal from the LCD screen and sends it to the big screen, this should work as well with the LV function. It did on my H1. If any owner of the A300/350 can confirm this, please let me know.
One important thing to keep in mind: When you use a screen for this kind of shooting is of UTMOST importance that you properly calibrate it to display the image properly. You will need to set the color, brightness, contrast, sharpness, etc. so the image looks like it would on the camera, otherwise the image will be seen completely different on the screen than on the LCD screen of your camera.
Second method (Only for A700 and A900):
If you read the manual that came in the box or browsed through the CD's that came with your Alpha, you will have noticed a program called Remote Camera Control.
This program allows you to shoot pictures with the camera while it's plugged via USB to a computer. It allows you to set practically all the settings you would use when taking a picture: aperture, shutter speed, ISO, White Balance, AEL, DRO, Aspect Ratio, image quality, etc.
Another useful feature of this program is that it allows you to save the pictures directly into the computer's hard drive.
This way of tethered shooting is useful if you are shooting and you dont want the pictures stored in the memory card but on the HD. Imagine youre at a situation where you cant move around to take pictures and you got to remain on a fixed spot. You can take out your laptop or a desktop, put the camera on a tripod, plug it to the computer and shoot the pictures from there. It comes handy as well if you dont have a screen to plug the camera to, or if you prefer to display the pictures in your computer's screen because its calibrated for proper color display.
And it saves you all that button pressing in the camera, just some clicks will do.
A few things to remember when using this mode:
A.-You need to set the camera for this, otherwise the computer will just see it as a mass storage device or a PTP device (for printing with PictBridge). The following will set the camera for tethered shooting:
Menu-> Setup (wrench icon) page 2-> USB connection -> Remote PC
Then turn the camera OFF. Then plug the USB cable to the camera and the computer and then turn the camera ON. This will allow you to use the camera with the computer.
B.- There is a new version of this program, V2.0 contained in Sony's Image Data Suite 3.0, but can only be used if your camera has firmware V4. Check the previous entry in this blog to find the links to download firmware V4 and IDS 3.0.
C.- There is a program called Interval Shooting Set Up Tool. What it does is that takes a picture every certain amount of time. You can set the camera to take a picture every second, or every 30 seconds, etc. This is useful if you are shooting something that happens on a fixed amount of time.
You have to download the program, get it here
Keep in mind you need to have IDC 3.0 installed already for this to work with the Remote Camera Control function. Unfortunately this is just for Windows, no Mac version :(
So there you have it, now you know what tethered shooting is and how it can be achieved with your Alpha DSLR, be it on the TV/screen or your computer.
I hope this infomation is useful to you!
Until next post.