August 30, 2021

Alphatracks

Sony and Minolta SLR Weblog

Tethered shooting — the importance of the WOW factor

In my last post, I lamented the lack of a tethered shooting option on the new Sony A100. I promised to follow that up with some comments on the “wow factor” of tethered shooting.

I am convinced that a tethered photo shoot is an excellent way to impress (and keep!) clients. In my earlier post I explained some of the ways tethered shooting improved a product photo shoot I was part of. While that should be enough to convince most people that they need a camera that offers a tethered option, there is also the undeniable “wow factor” that comes when your clients see your tethered setup.

Several years ago, I discovered that for many of my clients — possibly the majority — I am just a button-pusher. In their eyes, it is my equipment that makes the photos — they totally overlook the skill and training I have accumulated.

If you are a real photographer, you know this is a totally false premise. Ken Rockwell has written an excellent web article entitled Why your camera does not matter that illustrates how a photographer’s skill is much more important then the equipment he uses. Rockwell even has link to this Flikr Gallery of

archangel_raphael, a photographer in the Philippines who shoots incredible images with a Palm-Zire camera phone.

While I agree with Rockwell, most of my clients don’t understand this point. In their minds, it is the camera and associated equipment that makes the difference.

In addition to photography, I offer web-design and graphic-design to my clients. many of these clients are small businessmen who have started and build their business from the ground up. These “self-made” men seem to have an almost pathological fear of being taken advantage of. They will shell out large sums of money for dinners, limos, company airplanes and the like. When it comes to design and photography, however, they have a deep belief that design and photography are luxuries that they probably don’t need.

When the subject of photography for a new project comes up, you can read their minds. “Hmm…Joe in shipping got a new digital camera for Christmas last year. He could probably take the pictures we need.”

Happens all the time. Joe might be able to take great snap-shots of his wife and family at the beach, but you can bet he probably knows nothing about product photography. When I receive the images, there are harsh shadows, blown highlights, glare from the flash, etc. The images are junk, but hey, the business owner saved money by not hiring me — or some other professional photographer.

The funny thing is, these men don’t even understand that the images they supply me with are horrible. Joe took them with a “good” camera — therefore the images must be good. They don’t save all that much money — since I will now have to retouch all the images in Photoshop.

So what does this have to do with tethered shooting? Joe may have a good camera, but he probably doesn’t have one that can be tethered to a laptop. Heck, Joe doesn’t even own a laptop. So if you show up with a tethered camera arrangement, the small business owner is happy. You’ve got better equipment then Joe — so it was worth hiring you. Once again, he isn’t afraid of spending money — he just doesn’t want to be taken advantage of. If your equipment is better than the photo equipment owned by his company, his employees, his son or daughter, then you are a better photographer. The fact that your photos are superior to those he gets from those other sources is irrelevant. It is the camera and associated equipment that matters.

I realize that Sony started with the Maxxum 5D when they created the A100, so they probably would have had to redesign the camera’s circuits to include a tethered option. But it really feels like deja vu all over again. Minolta made us wait forever for a dSLR. We waited almost as long for an upgrade to the Maxxum 7D — which never came. Then we waited to see what Sony would offer us. Now if you want a tethered option, you will have to wait again — or buy a Canon, Nikon or a medium format digital SLR. Will the next Sony dSLR — which probably won’t be available for another year — have a tethered option? Who knows? A better question is “can I wait until then to find out?”