You must have read it before: “Adobe Lightroom Classic can tether only via USB cable. It is impossible to shoot tethered to LRC using wireless connection.” But it is NOT true. Well, Lightroom Classic does not support wireless connection to any camera so far but there is an option how you can tether to Lightroom Classic wirelessly really easily without hacking your computer.
In this post I will help you tell how you can do that. Well, the answer could be one sentence: “Use any tethering software and direct the LR’s Auto Import option to that folder.” But I will go deeper and explain, also give you an example for a free, working, professional wireless tethering software which can do this for you if you don’t own any yet. Also I will give more info about how I shoot tethered. So that you can have a better understanding on the tethered shooting if you would like to have the photos being imported into Lightroom immediately after the shot was taken, automatically. Not joking, you can do that, really easily. Let’s see how.
Wireless (Wi-Fi) vs. USB tethering
There are some benefits to shoot via wifi connection.
- I love it as at least there is 1 cable less on the floor. I hate stepping on them all the time
- Some tethering cables cannot be bought in long pieces, but you might want your computer further away from the camera
- Tether connections are many times moulded to the mother board of the camera. Pulling out a cable due to a likely event of getting stuck into the cables can ruin your session and occur a huge repair cost as well
Why to shoot tethered with Lightroom Classic?
There are some tethering softwares out there but I prefer shooting in Lightroom Classic. Why?
Apart from architecture photography I more often have commercial product photoshoots. This is a kind of photography where I want to see and know everything about the photo that was taken, right away. As I use Lightroom Classic in my workflows I am most familiar with its system when I have to see if there is burnt-out area on a photo for example. Pulling or pushing shadows or highlights can show me how much information was caught up in a single exposure of the background for example. Using the colour saturation sliders I can more easily see an unwanted colour cast.
There can be thousands of reasons why you want to have quick edits and not just a quick look on a photo right after taking it. In professional photography, where the photography work is highly priced, you have to be sure to deliver the highest quality. To be sure of it I love to check every tiny detail before packing the scene and closing the studio.
But there is a sorrowful fact, that Lightroom Classic DOES NOT support WI-FI tethering. In this article I will tell you how you can do that and we will not hack the LRC as it is but we will use a secondary tethering software to do that.
Shooting tethered to LRC via WI-FI connection to your camera is very easy. LRC has an option to automatically synchronise a folder you choose. Whatever file goes to that folder, it will show up in LRC in some seconds (literally just 1-2 seconds).
If you have any other tethering software that works wirelessly for you, you can use that. What we will do with Lightroom is to ask her to keep an eye on that folder and immediately import to our Lightroom Catalog any photo without any confirmation window popping up automatically. If you do not have a tethering software that works wirelessly with your camera I will give you my favourite, working, free, professional tethering software a bit later, below (no trick, it is really free and works, thanks to its developer, Zoltán Hubai). But you can use ANY tethering software that works wirelessly with your camera and sends the photos to a given folder on your computer.
So how can we ask LRC to import a photo to our used catalog automatically? This feature is called Folder Auto Import in Lightroom. You can find it on the top menu bar File -> Auto Import. Before going any further, you have to check the folder where your tethering software is transmitting the files to your computer from your camera. The folder you ask Lightroom to sync has to be EMPTY at the time of selecting in “Auto Import Settings”. Please note, that “Enable Auto Import” will be greyed out so unable to click until you set up the Auto Import Settings first.
When setting up the Auto Import you have some options. The first option is the “Watched folder”. Here you have to show the folder which the Lightroom is going to watch and if any file gets into that folder, it will automatically sync to the catalog without any question. Please note, that the folder you give here must be empty when starting the whole manoeuvre. But LR not just syncs, it also moves the file to another folder immediately (do not ask me why). This is the “Move to” folder. Then you can set up some other things like keeping the name or renaming, using a develop setting, keeping or removing given metadata, etc.
After clicking OK you can enable the Auto Import and from this second it will do so automatically. So if you shoot with the other application (I use a wireless trigger attached to my camera anyway so I do not have to change windows back and forth between the tethering software and Lightroom) the taken photo will show up in the catalog and you can edit immediately.
IMPORTANT! If your tethering software is set up to upload only a smaller file to save bandwidth and be faster, than Lightroom will receive and work on this degraded file as well. It can also happen that you want to work on the RAW files but only a smaller .jpeg is transferred to your computer. Please consider this and have a look on your settings before working on the files.
Which tethering software to use?
So as you see from above, all we need is a working software which makes the connection with your camera using WI-FI connection and loads the photos taken to your computer. My favourite option is the qDslrDashboard. No, I got no support from them. Not just free but gives really a lot of option when shooting. Available for Windows and Mac. Shooting with Canon or Nikon, you will be able to connect to your WI-FI capable camera and shoot tethered. BUT why I love this software is a special possibility of using external portable router to send the wifi signal. It is possible by using a firmware (called ddserver) you have to upload to a portable router, the TP-LINK MR3020 or MR3040.
Yes, we are getting a bit far from the original topic but telling you how to shoot wirelessly tethered to Lightroom Classic is really just one sentence: “Use any tethering software and direct the LR’s Auto Import option to that folder.”
But I am very keen to tell you how I like the workflow by my own. I work with D750s now. They are WIFI capable so I can just connect the computer to them and the qDslrDashboard will shoot tethered and all photos go right into the Lightroom Classic. BUT the wifi connection eats up a lot of battery and if you would like to turn the camera off to save battery, you have to setup the connection again and again, time after time. The last thing I would like to focus onto during work is something like this. The developer of the qDslrDashboard made a firmware for a type of portable router (Tp-Link MR3020, 3040) which will make the WI-FI connection by itself. It means that the wifi signals and connection is not set by the camera itself. The portable router needs a power bank to work and a connection to the camera’s tethering connection.
Why is that good? Well, for some good reasons. The battery of the camera will not be sucked by establishing the wifi connection. And you can turn the camera off anytime, the wifi connection itself is not affected. The computer will be connected to the same wifi router all the time without any break. As soon as you turn your camera back on, it will receive the data automatically. I am not sure but maybe the router is more powerful as well so you can go further from the camera with your computer if you need to.
You can get all information how to upload the ddserver firmware to the portable router by yourself on the page of the qDslrDashboard here.
I bought the TP-LINK MR3020 v3.0 and wanted to upload the firmware under Mac OS. It was a piece of headache for me but it doesn’t have to be for you as well. I made an article going through all the steps to make it easier for you in case you buy the same portable router for running ddserver on it. You can read the article here.
IP address confrontation issue
Just one more thing to be aware of. It might happen that you are willing to use the WIFI tethering mode to a computer which already connects to a router via cable, or there is a WIFI device with the same IP address which your camera or the portable WIFI router (in case of qDslrDashboard for example) willing to use to connect. It is the 192.168.1.1 or 192.168.0.1 usually. In this case you have to set up your WIFI tethering device to a different IP address first, otherwise you can have problems.
I really hope to have helped you. I wish you a lot of fun in tethered shooting. Enjoy and have a lovely day!