Tethering And Tape - The Importance Of Investing In Prevention

Tethering And Tape - The Importance Of Investing In Prevention

I always tether. Whether it's for a client or fashion editorial, the CamRanger has played a very important role in capturing rock solid images. But, before the wonderful technology of wireless tethering came into the picture, I always tethered to a workstation. However, that came with the annoyance of a long tether cable dangling off your camera. I always felt the sense of being trapped or held back from moving freely, I was always concerned and it was always a distraction.

Let's set the scene...

It's the heat of the moment, nearly 30 minutes into the second look of the day. Stunning, dramatically lit, images were pouring in from my camera and morale was high. Suddenly, I turn to take a glance at the workstation and accidentally smash the tether cable with my foot which violently rips the tether cable out from the camera. Bashfully, ignoring the embarrassment, I utter “No big deal! It happens all the time.”

I casually plug the cable back into the USB port and immediately notice a big problem. The gold-plated connector shifted and moved inside the port and could be unplugged with the lightest touch. Frantically, I double checked the connection in Adobe Lightroom, the port was dead. I wasn't sure what to think, so I did what every photographer would do: calmly carry on and hide my self-outrage.


Previous prevention techniques consisted of stuffing a wad of cable through my belt loop or even wrapping the cable around the lens. Both were sorry and shameful practices that never could have stopped the blunt force of a jerked tether cable. They certainty didn't work in this case.

Months and four dozen shoots later, I was still working with the same camera and had not had the time to send it in for repair. Also, the expense of camera repair and lengthy time of repair frightened me. Fortunately, I had managed to finagle the CamRanger and USB port to successfully sync, but I had to rely on adhesive tape to secure the cable. Without the small slice of tape, nothing worked as it should. My assistants had become conditioned to handing me a roll of tape before the shoot to secure the cable to my camera. If you've ever heard the term "hot mess," that is how my camera was described every time I secured the piece of tape over the USB Port. Sometimes the tape would work, most of the time it did not. It was never pretty and I’m sure clients occasionally questioned it, but I suppose it got the job done.


Tethering-With-Tape-The-Importance-Of-Investing-In-Prevention-Clay-Cook-Fstoppers-Tethering With Tape

Around the same time of the "tape fiasco," I was introduced to Tether Tools, a company that focuses on cable management and tethering solutions. Through the grapevine, I had heard of the little device called the Jerkstopper, but I had yet to see it in physical form. How would this little plastic gadget prevent the force of an unintentional cable jolt?

I was intrigued, I immediately ordered the device and attached the Jerkstopper to the camera body and was instantly impressed with its simplicity. With the proper slack, the Jerkstopper creates an additional point of impact before any stress hits the camera port. I thought to myself, “If only I had this contraption a few months ago, I would still have a working USB port.” It was a moment of clarity, I was once told a few wise words; nothing is a complete failure, it’s just a learning experience.


After some time, I sent my camera in for repair which returned with a nice $300 bill. It didn't kill me, but it did feel like a shot in the knee; a small $16 dollar investment could have saved me from a $300 repair bill. With that said, I recommend taking inventory of your equipment and creating a list of needed accessories that could possibly prevent a disaster. Whether it’s a backup hard drive, rain cover, camera strap, modular belt, lens case or Jerkstopper, invest in prevention. If not, you're guaranteed to not only be purchasing plenty of tape, but also a hefty repair bill.


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Portrait and Editorial Photographer, Clay Cook has learned the importance of going the extra mile, after a long, arduous run in the music business. Clay has shaped creative projects with History, Lifetime, Comcast and Papa John's Pizza. In addition, he has photographed assignments for Time, Forbes, The Guardian, W Magazine, USA Today, ESPN and Inc.

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personally… I like that my cable pulls out when tripped over. I watched one photographer who had taped the cable to the camera pull a lot of moneys worth of camera and lens to the concrete studio floor resulting in him picking up pieces of plastic and glass for the rest of the shoot, instead of taking pictures

Ouch! That definitely sucks! Everyone has their workflow, this is simply my experience and I don't want to have to duct tape my camera anymore! :)

I'm interested in that matte box! where is it from?

Hey Paul, it's a LEE Filters System. The matte box is an optional extension that holds the filters in place.

thanks for that!

Actually you can buy the matte box with the filter holder included (2 slots). It's called Medium Wide Hood (MWH) http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/292623-REG/LEE_Filters_MWH_Lens_Ho... - Also note that you are going to need the adaptor rings to put in on a lens

I keep seeing youre using some kind of bellow in front of you lens. mind explaining what that is and what it does?


I too am curious.

It's a mattebox.

Lee Filters makes all kinds of these self supporting matte boxes. http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/146767-REG/LEE_Filters_WALH_Lens_H...

Dave, it's the LEE Filters System. The matte box is an optional extension that holds the filters in place as well as act as a lens hood.

I read and re-read and finally understood what you were writing about. Could have been more direct, or easier.

Thanks for sharing on the experience

Thanks for the feedback and thanks for reading! I'll definitely keep that in mind for future articles Timothy!

The best solution is a short .5m USB lead (with a right angle head to keep the cable flush) secured to the camera and then a long cable, preferably active, to the computer. Any trip or pull on the cable pops at the join of the two cables.

Thanks for the input and reading the article! That would definitely work, but unfortunately, the USB Port is still at risk.

Unfortunately the port has always been the weak point. Tethering seems like an after thought. It's almost inevitable, at some point, to damage the port if you're shooting tethered, some solutions introduce a secondary more robust port - like and L bracket but with connectivity. But these solutions are generally aimed at the video set up with rails etc. IF you want to remain flexible and hands on then they tend to get in the way.

I think tethering is the only way to work if you use any kind of lighting on a setup, it gives a huge amount of control and an ability to work at a much subtler level.

Yes, this totally works!

WiFi tether Canon 6D, end of story. Good warning though.

Thanks for the feedback! In my opinion, the technology isn't quite there with Canon's on board tethering system. It's sucks the life out of the battery. Good suggestion though!

Totally agree, but man...I tripped on a tether once and got lucky.. I'll buy extra batteries :-)

I love SmallHD and their gear! Great company!

what about that gopro mount

Thanks for reading EJ!

Custom Bracket CB-Mini-RC

Tether Tools Articulating Arm 11"

That's what I use to attached my GoPro to my camera.

Have you thought about something like this http://magnetic-usb.com ? I think it's a great Idea that might be a good protection for USB-Connected equippment in general.

Thanks for the tip man!

For the last year I've been using a Eye-fi card in the SD slot of my 5Dmk3, I set the Camera to shoot RAW to the CF and Medium Jpg to the Eye-fi, this combined with ShutterSnitch app on the iPad makes for a perfect cable free solution, nothing to trip over, and no extra bulk! Have you ever tried it?

Hey Ruben, thanks for sharing! I've never had much luck with the Eye-Fi cards. To me, they are inconsistent. I currently use the CamRanger, it's a great device for wireless tethering which suits my needs!

Have had no problems with reliability after I started using a portable WiFi AP. Both the iPad and the Eye-fi connect to it, this increases the range, throughput and reliability.

I'm sorry you had this take place.. I would like to offer the other side of this coin though.

Although only seen twice in years of onset shooting. I've seen a $20,000.00+ Hassy yet yanked right out of a guys hands due to someone standing on the cord, and him turning around. The jerkstopper did it's thing for the 'pulling' jerk... But not to stop the other 'jerk' from not standing on top of the cord.

The bottom line is we use very expensive equipment. And along with that, there is no replacement for working smart and careful. It's like any other job where dangerous materials or sensitive goods are being handled. If you look away for a split second...it's gonna cost you something.

BTW: The Hassy was toasted..glass and all.

John, that is definitely a horror story I've heard before. You're totally right, its the nature of the business, we have to work smart. Thanks for sharing!