Shooting tethered…

…with a Fujifilm X-cameras. Oh, how I wish…

December 2016: With the release of the latest firmware, v. 1.1, for the X-T2, tethered shooting is now available through Lightroom 6+. In studio, tethering works great and as expected. There are numerous tutorials for doing this, so you should be able to find what you need with a simple search…
As for mobile editing, I do use my iPhone and iPad mini on occasion, such as when my work laptop recently died. After importing images with the Fujifilm Camera Remote app, I use Lightroom Mobile to edit and save versions of images that need to be delivered for work or for posting to social media sites.

August 2014 update: From the site’s stats, I see that this is a popular post. So, I thought that I should preface this with some new information. In short, I have abandoned any attempt to shoot tethered with the iPad with either the X-T1 or X-E2. I use the iPad for remote control of the X-T1 for studio tests and to edit and deliver small jobs while I am on the road. But I feel that tethering with the EyeFi Mobi card is a waste of time in a working studio.

Amy: Cosi Fan Tutte

I do a moderate amount of studio photography. When I do, I shoot portraits for government ministers, deputy ministers and executives for my work and the occasional freelance portrait job. When I do shoot in a studio environment, I have missed being able to shoot tethered since I made the switch to Fujifilm X-cameras.

This past week, I started to shoot tethered using my X-cameras. In anticipation of a studio session to shoot images for an opera promotion poster, I wanted to have a way to see the images large, right away, and to share them with the client with whom I was collaborating. I wanted fairly quick feedback on what is working and not working, so that we could achieve our goals for the shoot without having to wait until I had downloaded the photos to Lightroom. Mind you, I wasn’t looking to make edits, all I wanted to do was see the files large enough to make critical decisions. 

After a couple of emails with Patrick LaRoque regarding his experience using Eye-fi SD cards (mixed, to be generous) and lots of reading online, I opted to try the Eye-fi Mobi 8GB card. Unlike their “Pro” cards, the Mobi is intended for transfer to a smartphone or tablet and not to a desktop computer and it will only transfer JPEGs, not RAW files. Well, I have an iPad mini, so this seemed like a possible solution. Shoot in RAW + JPEG and the JPEGs would pop up on the iPad to see in their large preview glory. I would transfer the RAW files to my computer and LR in the normal manner later, via a card reader. Or so I thought.

Amy: Cosi Fan Tutte

I won’t go into how to set up the connection between the card and iPad app, there are plenty of places to read about that elsewhere. But, setup was fairly painless, which apparently is not the case with the Pro Eye-fi cards. I shot a couple of photos as a test and they popped up in the Mobi app on the iPad. Feeling like I was ready to go, I used the opportunity of three portrait sessions later in the day to test my new tethering system. 

Again, the images popped up in the Mobi app, however, the ad hoc WiFi connection generated by the card was dropped repeatedly by the iPad, if too much time, like a minute or two, passed between shots. I got pretty fast at switching back and forth between my WiFi settings to reconnect to the card’s network and the Mobi app to see the new images arrive, but it wasn’t the seamless experience I was hoping for. However, I did have JPEGs large enough to check focus. In fact, to speed up transfer, I chose the smallest JPEG settings on the X-Pro 1, Small/Normal.

The next step was to transfer the files from my Mobi card to Lightroom via the card reader. What, the Mac didn’t recognize the card? Would I like to initialize it? Hmmmm, what to do now? I tried it on a PC with no success. A cable to connect the camera to the computer proved to be the only solution, once I was able to locate it later that night. In the meantime, I ended up editing the Small/Normal JPEGs that were on the iPad and they worked really well. Phew. Thank you X-trans sensor.

OK, so I figured out how to make my system work, to a certain degree, and I was ready for the opera poster shoot. I shot enough to nearly fill the 8GB card and was able to use the iPad to review the shots. However, I did need to reconnect to the card’s WiFi network repeatedly during the shoot, despite ensuring that the camera never powered down automatically and the iPad remained on. This seems to be a complaint of others who are using an iPhone or iPad with the Eye-fi cards. The card is not as quick as my normal SD cards, so when I shot a succession of shots at one point, the camera churned away for a LONG time before the images were written and transferred. 

Amy: Cosi Fan Tutte

This proved to be moderately successful experience, but I would certainly like to see the connection between the iPad and the card’s WiFi network maintained, as long as the camera is turned on. And, I would like to have some integration between what I shoot and see on the iPad and my Lightroom catalog. As it turns out, I had a solution to the latter issue on my iPad already.

Photosmith is an iPad app that will sync with Lightroom, allowing you to review, rate and tag images on your iPad and later sync those changes to your desktop LR catalog. You can NOT edit the files in any way, so the app is good for that initial stage of reviewing images from a shoot and picking and rejecting photos and possibly adding keywords, although that isn’t as easy as it could be. I invested in Photosmith (not inexpensive) some time ago, after the launch of the latest version. However, I haven’t found it that useful. Until now…

It turns out that Photosmith will import from Eye-fi Mobi and Pro cards! In fact, the Photosmith support site gives good directions on managing what it calls the Proxy JPG Workflow. In short it works like this. You shoot RAW + JPEG with your Mobi card and your iPad connected to the Mobi WiFi card’s network. You connect the Photosmith app to the Mobi card, but you do NOT use the Mobi iPad app. This is critical, as the Mobi app changes the original files names and they need to remain unchanged in order for Photosmith to successfully sync with the files in Lightroom.

With the WiFi connection between Photosmith and the Mobi card established, Photosmith automatically imports photos as the connection is made and subsequently as the photos are shot. There is a full screen preview in Photosmith, however, it does not rotate when you rotate the iPad, so portrait images are smaller than landscape images. Very annoying! I hope that this gets addressed in a future version of the app. There is a workaround, but, really, this should just work like all photo apps on the iPad.

LR_Photosmith_screenshot

Once the small JPEGs have been transferred into the Photosmith app on the iPad, you can then copy the RAW files to your LR catalog from your camera/memory card, remembering to leave the names unchanged. Now, create a Photosmith collection in LR and in the Photosmith app. Put the JPEGS in the Photosmith collection in the app and the RAW files into the LR collection and sync the collection. If you have correctly configured the app and LR according to the link above, the metadata from the JPEGs will be transferred to the RAW files in LR. Ta. Da. 

It is a bit complicated, but it is a WiFi tethered workflow that works. You get large preview on the iPad sent wirelessly from the camera, where you can rate your selections and modify metadata. And, then, you can apply those metadata changes to the RAW files in Lightroom. From this point, the workflow remains in Lightroom. If you want to use LR and the Photosmith app for iPad differently, then you will need to change your configuration of the Photosmith plugin in LR. I won’t go into how, the Photosmith support site has all the info you will need. 

So, now I can shoot tethered using my X-cameras. It isn’t a perfect solution, but it is better than trying to review images on the back of the camera and that was the point of this anyway. Now, if only the Apple and app developers would work on the connectivity issues, it could work a lot better. It will be interesting to see how Adobe implements their Lightroom app. A smooth Proxy JPEG Workflow would certainly be an important part of making a successful app.

Opera poster images shot with the Fuji X-E2 and XF35mm f/1.4 lens.
Window-lit portraits shot with Fuji X-Pro 1 and XF60mm f/2.4 lens.

9 Comments

Add yours →

  1. I’m currently testing the Eye-fi 8gb pro x2 and the Toshiba 8gb flash air. With my x100 and ipad, I can’t figure out how to just send jpg only when I shoot raw + JPEG from the eye-fi. how do you set it up to just send the JPEG? I’m trying the native apps and shutter snitch, didn’t know Photosmith supported eye-fi, so I’ll check that option out. Great post, thanks.

    • Jason, I believe that you can control what type of files are imported from the Pro card in the desktop or iPad app. It is probably worth reviewing the company’s support pages to see what info is available. I was impressed with the support material for the Photosmith iPad app; I used it to set up the scenario described in the post.

      The Mobi only transfers JPEGs, so it is a simple solution in that regard. Thanks for reading…

    • That’s true, you go to the “raw” tab in the software and uncheck the box telling Eye Fi to transfer them.

  2. given the latest ‘specs’ on the XT-1, maybe Fuji are attempting to resolve this issue via built in WiFi, after all – give Fuji their dues – they do seem to let the users guide their development…

    • Andrew, you have a point. I’m looking forward to seeing how WiFi is implemented on the new camera. Fujifilm has certainly been responsive. They haven’t always got it right initially, but they do seem to listen and act. I’m still thrilled that the latest firmware update for the X-Pro 1 has Auto ISO implemented so well!

  3. Don,
    Do you mean a desktop version for apple? (because there already is a desktop PC app (i’m a winbox user)

    I have heard horror stories similar to yours on Apple machines for some reason….the dropped connection thing being a main one.

  4. Interesting post….interesting observations.

    I shoot tethered with a 16gb Pro X2 card. I shoot raw + normal (smallest) jpgs and they get sent to my laptop.

    I just use the regular home network when I’m there or the ad-hoc when I’m not.

    Each jpg takes between 2 and 5 seconds to transfer, which isn’t perfect but it works for my purposes, I use the laptop to check critical focus and framing and lighting issues, and then when I have jpg “candidates” I note their file name, and then download the raw files via card in reader in laptop, and edit the raw files.

    For me, it works perfectly…no dropped connections, and pretty nifty.

    Bonus, if I’m just doing informal “here’s my puppy” shots for facebook, the jpg sizes are plenty fine and the quality of the files is fine also.

    • Good to know that it works well for you. I steered away from the Pro SD card because of what others have told me about it. Because of security on my work network, I am better served with an ad hoc network. I may give the Pro 2 card a go in the future, although I suspect that camera manufacturers will make this a feature and we won’t have to rely upon third-party cards to make it work.

      I like the iPad option with which I’m working now, as it is very portable and easy for the client to see what we are doing. It looks like Eye-fi is coming out with a desktop version of their app so that you can transfer the JPEGs to you laptop/computer instead. I have tried the beta version, with auto import into Lightroom, but the connection was worse than with the iPad. As the connection was dropped by the computer application, which it did frequently, then the work network tried to take over. It was not a pleasant experience.

      And as I don’t have any “here’s my puppy” shots to share, I get to skip that step ;-)

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: