Saturday, September 27, 2008

Tethered Shooting With Your Alpha DSLR

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

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.

First method:

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.


  1. Hi
    Useful post cheers.
    Currently planning to launch an event photography business where showing the pictures to the customers is a pivotal issue.
    I can confirm the first method (hooking the camera to a tv) does work with the alpha a200.
    Unfortunatly the second remote shooting method does not work with the a200, it looks like it's going to but then it can't detect the camera. Hopefully future firmware updtes for the a200 will allow remote control but until then i'm afraid sony will milk this so that people pay through the nostrils for the a700 and a900.

    Thank you for the post, feel free to check out my blog, nd hopefully event photos will start soon!

  2. Hello Ben:

    Thanks for confirming that the first method works with the A200 :)

    I understand that for Alpha users who dont own a A700/900 is annoying the fact they can't shoot tethered with a computer, and yeah, maybe a firmware version could fix this, however the A700/900 are meant to be top of the line cameras, so they will have certain features that the other models wont have. Although is worth mentioning that the A300/350 have Live View and the A200 has automatic in built flash, which are features the A700/900 dont have ;)

    As for prices, the A700's prices are down, you can get a new A700 body for 900 dollars now, and while the A900's price tag doesnt exactly shout cheap, it certainly is more offerdable than the competition cameras than can go up to 8,000 dollars.

    Thank you for visiting Alpha Sight and taking the time to leave a comment, Im glad to read my post was useful to you :)

    Good luck with your new business! Both fingers crossed for you. I will check your blog to find out what's exactly about.


  3. Hey Ben,
    Thank you for this nice and helpfull post!
    You really helped me.

  4. Has anyone tried to use the Eye-Fi PRO X2 with a SD to CF Card Adapter? I hear stories of other camera brands that this works great, be it a little slow.



  5. does lighroom 3 support this shooting tethered?

  6. Hi...

    Is there a way to shoot with an A900, tethered, wirelessly?



  7. @ Anonymous:

    As far as I know, Lightroom doesn't support Sony DSLRs for tethered shooting, only Canon and Nikon cameras. If someone knows if Im wrong, please let us know.

    @ Johnny:

    To answer your question, you need to be more specific.

    You could put your A900 on a tripod, hook it up to a TV and use the remote to shoot.

    If what you want is to shoot from a distance with no wires involved at all, I think there are some devices sold online by several companies that allow you to do just that. Do a Google search and they should come up.

    I hope this helps.

  8. I have an a300 and i confirm that you can hook it to a t.v and shoot! thanks for the tip. i wish i could do it on my whoooo. lol

  9. Hello all,

    "Is there a way to shoot with an A900, tethered, wirelessly?"

    The answer is a big "YES".

    I've made it. If any camera that can do Tethered, then it can do UN-Tethered shooting.

    I call them, ATG Un-Tethered System(#1) and the ATG AK-1 Un-Tethered Systems(#2).

    #1 needs hotshoe flash.
    #2 has wireless radio remote flash system.

    #1 retains AF/flash/wireless image transfer/remote control & setting from computer
    #2 comes with built in wireless radio flash system.

    This is built, made & modified by me, in the USA.

    It's the World's First:
    ATG Un-Tethered works on Sony, Canon and Nikon!
    2 in 1- wireless radio image & flash.
    Use ATG on Sony then use it on a Canon or a Nikon. Canon & Nikon sell wft for over $700.00 but is limited to pro model only.

    You are not limited to just pro camera bodies, but made for beginner to professional bodies.

    The ATG Un-Tethered's microchip reads & knows your camera.

    Any questions, please just ask.


  10. "Is there a way to shoot with an A900, tethered, wirelessly?"

    Yes, on A700.
    And on Canon and Nikon cameras.

    Any questions?

  11. Lightroom can support alphas with third party plug-in from

  12. I purchased the ATG AK1 Un-Tethered Systems after contacting

    It works!

    I am now shooting wirelessly.

    I have the Sony A900 and tested it with Sony A700 and A850 from Sony store. It works on those two models.

  13. can a a55 sony be used for tethered shooting

  14. If you're interested in writing an article about your experience with the ATG AK1 system, I'll be happy to post it here for other users to see.

    This also goes to the creator of the system, if he provides some material as to how his system is used and what benefits it offers Alpha DSLR users, I'll be happy to post it here.

  15. I'm not familiar to the A55's capabilities regarding tethered shooting, but I *think* you could do a wired tethered shooting if you plug the A55 to a HDTV through the HDTV port using the proper cable. This should work just the same as if you plugged an A200 with the A/V cable.

    If you need wireless, you could check if the newest Eye-Fi memory cards will work with the A55.

    Finally, you can ask the creator of the ATG AK1 system if it will work with the A55 in a wireless mode.

    I hope this helps.

  16. is this post still open...
    i have a200 and yes you can do the above .
    but i still get the cam details on my photos?
    what i mean is all the details on the view screan
    on back of cam are on my pics .how do i remove them ,so thay dont appear on my taken photos?..

  17. If you see the details written in white letters on the edges of your photo, press the Display button (DISP) until they go away.

    If you histograms, a box with detailed info about the photo and the actual photo on the upper left corner, then you need to press the C (Custom) button so your picture will go back to normal.

    Hopefully that takes care of it.


  18. Tbat second paragraph was:

    If you *see* histograms, a box...

  19. I have tried the second version on the A850 and I can confirm it works on that model.

  20. can you hook up the a57 to an external display to show a live feed directly from the camera so i can see what i am shooting (modelling for a site and im sick of walking to and from my camera to see if i got the pose right). so i want it to work like a mirror if you know what i mean

  21. Hello Kc:

    I suggest you try using a HDMI cable for that purpose. You should be able to connect your camera to a HDTV and make it work like a mirror so you can see yourself while posing.

    Just make sure to get a cable with the compatible plugs for both the camera and the TV set. I don't know if the one in the camera is the same one used by TV's but I wouldn't bet on it. It's better to check before you buy anything.

    If possible, go try this suggestion out to the place where you'll get the cable (Radioshack for example), that way you'll also confirm if the A57 can feed its signal to the TV or not.

    I hope this helps. Cheers!