Have you ever thought your camera's tiny screen was not enough to preview your images? Or felt a bit disappointed after seeing the pictures on your computer? Well, I certainly did. And I recently found out there's a solution to this and it's quite a popular one. I didn't know about it and I suppose I wasn't the only one, so I'll share it with you :)
Shooting tethered means you'll connect your camera to your computer/laptop and control it right from that device. This way you'll get to see the image directly on your laptop, exactly how it's going to look like. All the flaws, burnt areas, sharpness issues, unwanted details, so you'll have a lot more control. You can even save them solely on your harddisk, so there's no need to waste time downloading photos from the card, or changing it when it's full.
Also, using the Live View option, you can focus objects better, because you'll, obviously, see them bigger. The bigger the laptop/computer's screen, the better!
What you need? Just a compatible USB cable (the one you use to download pictures from your camera is perfect) and a program that allows you to control the camera from your laptop/computer. I personally own a Canon 450D and I used the EOS Utility that comes with the camera. I wrote a brief tutorial about it and the whole process on my blog, so check out if you're interested. For those of you owning a camera from other manufacturer, I understood that Lightroom is a good option, but I didn't try it, therefore I can't say if it works or not.
For self-portraits, as I first experimented, the longer the USB cable, the better, so that you can keep your laptop close to you to focus correctly while it's connected to the camera. There's also a wireless possibility if you want to directly download your images on your iPad, for example, but again, as I don't own a tablet, I couldn't try it :)
Since I discovered the shooting tethered option, I use it everytime for photographing objects. Below are a few examples of photos I took directly 'with' my laptop :)
Birksphotography, I agree with you. Not practical in an action shot, but it definitely is extremely useful in still life photography, self-portraits (as I tried it) and probably some model photography as well (looking forward to trying it) :)
I've used the utility you talk about on my 350D and I agree that it can be useful in a studio or even an on location still life. However in an action shot it is impractical.
Now, with that said, I would recommend as you do to use a tethering system and you can get tripod systems that hold both a laptop and camera at the same time. Other professional photographers (Scott Kelby for example) do this routinely.
For Nikon users, "Control my Nikon" v3 (new version) is now on special at $19.95 ...does just about everything Nikon's Camera Control Pro does for a fraction of the price. http://www.controlmynikon.com/index.html
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