Tethered shooting means getting photos directly on computer screen after pressing shutter. Of Olympus cameras only E-M5 mark II, E-M1, and E-M1 mark II support tethering. While Lightroom’s tethering function does not support Olympus at all, there is a workaround to get photos directly on Lightroom using Olympus Capture and Lightroom’s auto import feature.
Tethering gives possibility to inspect results immediately on large monitor without separately transferring images from memory card to PC. It can be useful in slow-pace product photography or portrait photography, and especially when doing a training, workshop, or presentation showing results immediately to a larger audience.
In addition to transferring photos immediately, tethering tools often offer remote controlling the camera using the PC software and also showing live viewfinder on PC monitor.
Lightroom Tethered Capture and Auto Import
Lightroom has a built-in Tethered Capture function in File -> Tethered Capture. However, it only supports Canon, Nikon, and few Leica models. In order to support a camera model, I assume it requires the camera manufacturer to disclose their full proprietary communication to Adobe, which is why the support list is so short and I would not hold my breath for it to grow quickly.
Luckily there is a workaround using Auto Import. It is a feature that monitors a folder, and when a new photo appears on the folder, it is imported to Lightroom automatically. Therefore, we just need to tether photos on a folder using another software and then Lightroom automatically imports and shows them almost in real-time. This another software in this case is Olympus Capture.
Olympus’ own tether and remote control software is Olympus Capture. At the moment it supports E-M5 mark II, E-M1, and E-M1 mark II. I believe this is a strategical rather than a technical restriction. Some Olympus models with very different price tags are quite close to each other in terms of features so tethering is one of those “Pro” features to distinguish products.
As far as I know, the only way to add tethering to lower-end models is using Eyefi or Toshiba FlashAir memory cards which have WiFi in them. I have not used these and it seems there has been some discontinuities and end of life issues so check carefully before buying. Also, some cards only transfer JPEGs and not RAWs; again Pro features tend to cost more.
Setting Up Camera, Olympus Capture, and Lightroom
Here are brief instructions on how to set up everything for tethered shooting. All should be really easy and straightforward. In this example I use E-M5 mark II shooting a PCB with Olympus 60/2.8 macro lens using a small light tent and LED lights.
- Set camera for tethered shooting
- Start Olympus Capture and define a folder where photos are stored
- Configure Lightroom to auto-import photos on that folder
The only setting relevant in camera is the USB mode the camera goes into when plugged in. The factory default setting is Auto meaning the camera asks the mode when connected to PC. However, at least I had changed the default to Storage as this is the mode needed for transferring photos (I transfer photos directly from camera, not memory card reader) and I had never used any other mode before. I now use the Auto setting that let’s me choose what happens.
Download and install Olympus Capture and launch it. Plug your camera USB to computer and turn on the camera. It then asks the mode to use, and choose tethering which is the symbol of computer and camera.
Olympus Capture then asks how to store files. I chose SD+PC to save the photos on memory card as well.
Then define the folder photos are temporarily saved into. They are not gonna be stored here for long time as Lightroom will move them away automatically. I do not understand the button logic here at all, but press Settings to continue (?).
You should now see your viewfinder image on large screen and all camera settings and operations are accessible on PC screen or in camera.
Now we need to set up Lightroom to automatically import images appearing on the previously defined Olympus Capture folder. Note that this folder needs to be empty when set up. On Lightroom go to File -> Auto Import. Enable Auto Import and set Watched Folder as the one Olympus Capture uses for storing photos. Set Move to as your working folder where Lightroom moves these images when auto-importing. I do not bother file naming or any import settings at this point. After I am done tethering, I do a “proper import” on photos I really need and then convert into DNG (which is not possible with Auto Import for some reason) and apply my import presets.
You should be all set up now to take a photo, using camera or Olympus Capture remote controls, and few seconds after taking a photo it should appear in Lightroom.
This is the first time I used tethering on Olympus but based on this initial test it seems to work fine. Few things to keep in mind:
- You will need a wired USB connection for tethering so USB extension cable may be necessary
- WiFi cannot be used for tethering (as far as I know) as it is a direct connection between camera and your phone
- Camera stays on all the time when tethering so it likely drains battery quite fast; in studio work a wall-wart power supply is probably a good addition
- Some camera controls at least on M5 mark II may be seem a bit sluggish when tethering
- After you are done tethering, on Lightroom click File -> Auto Import -> Enable Auto Import to untick and disable the feature and folder monitoring (although it probably does not do much harm being on)
PS. The PCB used as a product example is part of my electronics projects I present on my other website.