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.
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.