Tethering Over Distance

Tethering (for the uninitiated) is Capture One’s party piece. Connect a supported camera to the computer over the relevant cable and shoot directly to the hard drive instead of the memory card. Instant preview, instant client approval, happy customer.

Tethering is a valuable asset to Capture One users. Once you’ve adopted it into your workflow, it becomes very hard to live without it. If it stops working mid-shoot it can be a serious source of stress.

There are physical demands on the system for this to work well, the main one being power. It’s worth noting that 90% of all tethering issues I’ve ever seen were solved with proper power supply. The other issues we’re either faulty cables, faulty hardware, bugs, and plain old user error (in that order).

To transfer data effectively over distance, the cables need supporting power. As distance increases the requirements for power supply increase. In fact, even with the supported lengths (USB2 – 4.5m, USB 3 – 3m) laptops and cheaper consumer products like iMacs often don’t provide a power supply for the camera to run spec.

This problem of distance has only gotten worse with the retirement of FireWire. While it had its own problems, digital back owners could tether over a single 10m. This was technically never supported by Phase One (official FireWire spec was 4.5m) but it mostly worked (to do it officially, a special repeater was needed).

A repeater or hub solution is a great way to extend effective cable length – or just get a solid power supply. Normally the device sits between camera and computer, and the device is plugged into a mains power source.


Optical USB3


This cable architecture is a fairly new idea but they come with a single awesome feature – cable length is not an issue!

In a nut shell, Optical USB cables do away with copper as a means of transferring signal. Signal from the device is converted in the plug to light and then transmitted over fiber-optic. Once received at the other end, the optical signal is converted back to electronic signal.

All that you need to make it work with your camera is a traditional copper USB adapter (maybe 2-3″ long) to convert the female end of the USB cable to a male type used in the cameras USB socket and you are good to go.

The only downside to Optical (apart from the initial cost), is charging – if you used the ultra modern XF camera and IQ backs from Phase One with the USB charging feature, you will have to turn that off.

Corning optical cables are available in many places, and are available in lengths of 10m, 15m, 30m and 100m.


One Comment on “Tethering Over Distance

  1. How rugged are these cables? I used to use FO tether cables back in the early 2000’s and it was super hard to keep them good.

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