Laptop accessories for shoots

I have been using some laptop digital capture accessories for a while now and thought it was the right time to share my thoughts.

Laptop Shade
When working outdoors it can be very difficult to judge an image because of screen glare and the fact that screen backlights tend to be a bit dim to preserve battery life.
I bought a Compushade fold down plastic hood to see if it would improve the image outdoors, the good news is that it did. It doesn’t remove the problem entirely of course, bright direct sunlight still needs a secondary cloth or shade over the shoulders to exclude light but for cloudy or shaded light it is easier to see the screen.
Its also useful indoors when working near windows or other light sources.
When not in use it folds down flat over the top of the laptop, it becomes part of the laptop and the combination will still slide into a laptop bag. Despite earlier concerns that it would be a bit flimsy I can report that the opposite is true and its quite hard wearing. Worth the £20 asking price.

Laptop Stand
Trying to hand hold a laptop when it is tethered to a camera can be very difficult, when possible a nearby table or chair can be used to rest the thing down flat but sometimes these things are not around, step forward a dedicated laptop stand.


There are two models available from instand, I chose the smaller/cheaper/lighter CR3 shown here that can easily be transported by public transport, the stand folds down to about 16″ and the plate can be carried in the side pocket of my laptop bag. The price is a bit cheeky at nearly £100 but it does do the job reasonably well, a bit shaky when fully extended but I have not had any bad experiences so far, in actual fact the soft rubbery top surface keeps the laptop from sliding very well.
If you always travel by car then the much more rugged looking CR5 may be the one to go for (and it looks prettier too).
Check out the instruction sheet for some very witty remarks about tightening the plate correctly…

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Field trial of Lightroom 3 tethered shooting

Just back from a very pleasant if hard working 2 day shoot with Clive Nichols.

I thought this would be a good trial of Lightroom 3 tethered capture.

It was.

Tethered capture is a real necessity with art directors and clients on a shoot as each shot needs checking and changes made before each setup is signed off and we can move onto the next one.

We abandoned Lightroom 3’s built in camera control straight away as although we could trigger the shutter we only had a readout of aperture and shutter speed so could not make exposure adjustments from the laptop, this was important as when the camera is high up or in a tight corner it is difficult to adjust the camera itself.

We reverted to the Canon software for controlling the camera and setup Lightroom 3 to auto import images from the capture folder. This did work most of the time but we had a few glitches where the images did not make it through. As soon as I realised this was slowing the shoot down I reverted to Lightroom 2.7 which performed the same functions perfectly.

Lesson: Always keep the last good version of software on your computer till you are sure the new version is ok.

It could be that any forthcoming update (3.1?) will sort this problem and perhaps Adobe could spend some of that money they make in extending the functionality to camera control at some point. Until then I’m sticking to 2.7 for tethered shooting.

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