Tethered Capture & Linux

For many years I have gone back and forth with Linux as its something new and something I can tinker with. Since I was a kid I have always had Windows as the main operating system on my computers, I have always gone back to it as its familiar territory and it ‘just works’.

I picked up a Lenovo T440p in the of summer 2019 as I was in need of something to tinker with and upgrade. I made the decision to make Linux the operating system of choice. This would present a new challenge for me and a challenge is what I was after.

First was to find a Linux distribution (Distro) and Desktop Environment (DE) I liked the most; there are many to choose from and the best place to start is here: https://distrowatch.com/
I took my time to find one which suited, some of which I tested are; Linux Mint, MX Linux, Manjaro, Deepin, Zorin, and even Kali Linux out of pure curiosity. I settled on MX Linux with the Xfce Desktop Environment as it ticks all the boxes for me personally.

I wanted to take my Laptop on shoots with me and have it set up for Tethered Capture. The ability to display the images to client on the fly on a screen significantly larger than the one on the back of the camera is vital to keeping the client engaged. The laptop was also to act as a live backup in the event the SD card in the camera corrupts or goes missing. Using Linux for this function has its challenges and its not as simple as it is on Windows with software like Adobe Lightroom. But there is no challenge in simple.

In order to carry out tethered capture, you need (other then camera and computer) a tether cable. If you ask Google or look at the various photography forums they will point you towards “Tether Tools” with prices 4 or 5 times higher than what they should be for a USB 2.0 or 3.0 cable just because its orange, its like the £100 HDMI cables from 10 years ago. There is zero benefit in paying a premium for a USB cable you may well need to replace if it goes missing. You’re best off saving the money and getting one (or two, or three) off Ebay or Amazon, just look out for the correct USB type your camera requires.

Next is finding the software on Linux to allow for Tethered Capture. There are a couple options around, however I use Entangle for its simplicity (Entangle can be installed with most Linux Package Managers or after a quick google). Plug your to camera into a USB port using the tether cable, open up Entangle, then turn your camera on, and you’re ready to shoot. Your images will show up on your computer screen right after you have taken your shot.

However…

There was one issue which caused me a real headache, which was that any image I took in tethered mode was only being saved onto the drive on the Laptop and not on the SD card of the camera. I wanted to use the duplication of RAW files as fail safe in the event the images were lost. Off to google I went in search of the answer. This took me well over an hour of searching to find said answer. The default setting when tethered shooting on Linux is the image is stored temporally on the camera until its transferred to computer storage. After far too many google searches, the solution is to install “gphoto2” onto your Linux system, once installed open up a terminal and copy and paste the following:
gphoto2 –set-config capturetarget=1
This changes the setting from the default “gphoto2 –set-config capturetarget=0” and enables the images taken when in tethered mode to save on the SD card in addition to the storage of the linux system.
0 = Photo not saved on SD card, Only saved on Linux
1 = Photo saved on SD card and on Linux

There we have it, Tethered Capture fully set up on Linux.

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