Shooting Tethered with the Sony a900 in Lightroom 3

Posted on November 17, 2011 - 12:07am

Hey there, it's nikko here, the media & tech guy for creativeLIVE, making my first guest blog post. Today I'll be talking about using the Sony a900 with Lightroom 3.5.

If you shoot with a Sony a900 or a a700/a850, you may have noticed that you are unable to shoot tethered with Lightroom 3.5. There was a relatively recent camera update that allowed camera support for this camera in Lightroom, but the option of tethering is still unavailable. If you do some light digging on the 'net you'll find that there's some pricey software out there that claims to allow you to shoot tethered in Lightroom 3 with your Sony, but I'm going to show you a FREE workaround.
Matthew Jordan Smith was here at our studio a few days ago to teach a creativeLIVE workshop on Beauty and Fashion Photography. As you may know, Matthew Jordan Smith shoots with a Sony a900, a first as far as creativeLIVE instructors go.
To get tethering to work, you'll need two pieces of software running on your computer at the same time. Sony's Remote Camera Control software and Adobe's Lightroom 3.
Sony's Remote Camera Control software is super easy to find if you don't have the install CD that came with your a700 as Sony offers a free download on their support website at . Just pop in "DSLRA700" for the model number and hit go. If you're thinking I flubbed up there by saying "a700" don't worry, it was intentional. The a900 page only has the newer version of the software package that does not contain the Remote Camera Control software we need.
Click on "Drivers & Software" and select your Operating System. Once you have that done, find the download under "IMAGE DATA CONVERTER / IMAGE DATA LIGHTBOX SR SOFTWARE" that's labeled "Sony® Image Data Suite Update for Mac OS®" or whichever operating system you are running. This download should be the file with a release date of 9/16/2008. Once the download, "IDS30_Installer0809a", is installed to your computer you should have Remote Camera Control on your system.
Now you can open up Remote Camera Control and connect your Sony a900. Once you have the window shown below, select a folder for Remote Camera Control to save your images. This will be the folder Lightroom uses to import the tethered images.
You'll need to leave this program open for as long as you're planning on tethering to Lightroom. If you turn off your camera to change lenses or disconnect your camera from your computer, you'll see a prompt like this:
Simply clicking OK reconnects the camera and makes Remote Camera Control happy again. That's about all the troubleshooting you'll run into with this software, it's pretty easy to manage.
Now it's time to set up Lightroom. Open it up and dive into your Auto Import Settings:
You'll need to select the same folder you set up Remote Camera Control to save to as your "Watched Folder" and then you'll need to specify a Destination Folder. Click OK and you're all set to be shooting tethered with your a900!
While you're shooting, you'll be looking at about 1 second for the file to transfer from the camera to the watch folder and about 4-6 seconds for Lightroom to do it's thing and display the image on the screen. Times are based off of testing on our Mac Pro so your mileage may vary. Matthew Jordan Smith liked to shoot pretty rapidly as his subjects we're changing poses and expressions frequently, but this setup held up. In the middle of a constant 15-20 fires from the a900, Lightroom would think for a moment and then display several images without a hitch and then pause to load the rest as shooting finished up. One thing to note here is that when you shoot tethered this way, your images will not be saved to your card but instead will be saved only to your computer.
I'll be posting about geeky tech-related things from time to time in the future, so if there's anything you want me to cover let's chat about it on the forums
nikko mamallo