Cheap and Cheerful: Testing Out a Budget Cable for Tethered Shooting

I took a chance on purchasing a no-frills £12 tether cable to see how it performs in comparison to other well-known brand cables. If you shoot tethered, you might want to read on.

The pursuit of perfection often leads us down the path of expensive gear and accessories, which can eat into a photographer’s profit margins. One such accessory is the tether shooting cable, an indispensable tool for photographers looking to maximize their workflow and shooting process. I don’t know about you, but tether cables and reflectors are high on my danger list of items that I seem to leave behind after a shoot. I am forever replacing them, so if there is a good option at a lower cost, I’m willing to give it a try.

As it stands, a certain orange-colored tether cable dominates the market, commanding premium prices for this useful piece of kit, which, depending on the area of photography you practice in, may or may not be considered an essential tool. In contrast to this, the Valueline tether shooting cable, in a bright shade of blue, caught my attention as a cost-effective alternative to the orange-clad name-brand cables, which cost an average of £50. Skeptical but curious, I decided to give it a shot, and the results left me pleasantly surprised.

You may have noticed this yourself, but when the word photography is added to the description of a product, the price tends to creep up. This Valueline brand cable is not advertised as being a photographic tether cable, but that is exactly what it is, and tethering your camera for instant image review on a monitor is exactly what it does. Of course, different connections are available for different camera and monitor or laptop connections, but throughout all options, the price stays very low. I paid £11.86 for this cable, but it is currently on offer for £9.92, and I will be purchasing a spare as soon as I finish typing this article.

Benefits of Shooting Tethered

Shooting tethered, the practice of connecting your camera to a computer or monitor during a photoshoot, offers numerous advantages that enhance a photographer’s workflow. Here are some key benefits:

Real-Time Image Review

Shooting tethered enables instant viewing of images on a larger screen, allowing for a more accurate assessment of composition, exposure, and focus.

Quality Control

The larger screen helps identify and address any issues with images that might go unnoticed on the small LCD on the back of your camera.

Optimal Collaboration

Clients, art directors, or models can view images as they are captured, fostering better communication and collaboration on set.

Data Backup

Images are transferred directly to the computer, reducing the risk of data loss due to memory card failure.

Live Adjustments

Photographers can make real-time adjustments to camera settings from the computer, streamlining the creative process.

After a fortnight of use, this cable has delivered exceptional performance without burning a hole in my pocket. Priced at a fraction of the cost of the orange cables, this budget-friendly option allows photographers to allocate their resources elsewhere.

This article is a rather long way to say “it works.” Granted, I have only used it over the course of a few weeks, but it has already outlasted one of the more costly tether cables I purchased a few years back that kept disconnecting after only a few weeks of use. 

A final point to consider, which may be a minor point, is that other professionals will recognize the color as being out of place with what they are used to seeing. Will this give an impression of inferiority? It shouldn’t, but would you judge a person’s professionalism if they are using an off-brand data transfer cable?

In a world where quality need not always come at a premium, this cable serves as a testament to the value that can occasionally be found in affordable solutions. If you are anything like me, you will need a spare for occasions when you leave your cable behind, or if your cable malfunctions, so at the very least this will be an ideal option in that scenario.

If you’re in the market for a reliable and cost-effective tether shooting cable, don’t hesitate to give the Valueline brand a try; you might just find yourself as pleasantly surprised as I was.


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