Standard practice in a studio environment and in many other professional shooting scenarios is to shoot tethered, with the virtues and merits of that being far reaching and without substitute. Generally tethered shooting is done via cabled connection as the wireless options aren’t really fast enough or dependable enough at this time, especially for newer, faster, higher resolution cameras, as it seems the wireless tech evolution speed isn’t tantamount to that of camera progress.
So, in the quest for higher data transfer speeds most higher end cameras now use USB 3, but the caveat here is that for some reason camera manufacturers and computer manufacturers aren’t really compensating for this, so once the cables run past a certain length (typically associated with anything longer than 15ft) connection can be a bit….dodgy. Tethertools has a few solutions, but probably the most functional and elegant of which is the TetherBoost Pro.
Announced around the half-way mark this year, the TetherBoost Pro is essentially a companion package for your USB 3 tether cables that regulates the power between the devices for data transfer through the cables, thus rendering the dropped connection issue a non-issue.
All it really is, is a small 13 inch cable with a male USB end that goes into your computer, and a bulkier female end (core controller) that can probably be referred to as the ‘device housing’. That’s the ‘main event’ so-to-speak, but here’s what comes in the box:
- TetherBoost Pro USB 3.0 Core Controller
- JerkStopper Extension Lock
- TetherBoost AC Power Adapter
- USB DC Cable
The controller, is what will be doing the heavy lifting here and theoretically this alone should be able to deliver smooth, uninterrupted and reliably predictable connection between computer and camera for up to 65 feet’s worth of line. That said, using it this way may cause more drain on your computer and camera batteries, which could be an issue, though not one I really ran into. In a studio environment you’re likely powered into a wall or not far from one should you need it, but if you’re on location without a sufficient battery pack or whatnot, that’s where the TetherBoost AC Adapter comes in.
What this does is alleviate the battery stresses of your devices by drawing power from a wall outlet into the cable directly. Actually, that’s not entirely true as you can use an external battery pack instead of a wall power source, but in my basic use of it this feature was a nice addition, but likely not needed for most. It also can get a little bit finicky if you’re using the active extension cables and you’ve got 60-odd feet of line and other cables as well.
To help with the mess, and to keep things secure and collectively together they’ve included the JerkStopper Extension Lock which works as advertised, and if you use one once I guarantee you’ll want it always; it just gives a sense of peace of mind and allows you more freedom. Word of warning though it may seen a little stiff to open you just have to get the right touch to open it easily, and you’ll get it within minutes. As I sort of alluded to above, if you want to extend your cable use you’ll need some Active Extension cables, and maybe some more JerkStoppers.
I tested this whole rig using a D500 into Capture One Pro and with 15ft of cable then up to 63 feet. Sadly, I didn’t have enough cables to go past the magic 65 to see how it fared, but at 63 feet (plus 13 inches of the TetherBoost Pro), powered by a late 2015 MacBook Pro, there wasn’t even a hiccup; the computer recognized the camera from the get-go; the little blue indicator light came on as it should and didn’t so much as flicker, and I had no dropped connections. In the spirit of full disclosure I’ll state that I didn’t measure battery drain on the computer, but it wasn’t enough for me to take note and I’m that guy who must have the percentage shown, and while I used 65 feet of cable, a little less than half of that was coiled – not that it should make a difference.
All in all, if you’re shooting in a professional environment with a client, or just at all, it’s good to have this. I can’t speak for longevity really, but given my experience with Tethertools cables, you’re likely to have no complaints. It’s not exactly cheap, coming in at $65 (and to shoot at 63ft that’ll run you about $250 with extensions and such), but good tether cables rarely are, and if you’re plugging this stuff into valuable computers and cameras, it’s wise to avoid cheap cables. It’s a good product. I recommend.
You can get them here, and in either this brazen orange, or black.