Tethering Guide for the Pentax Lightroom Plugin

Control the camera and instantly import photos

By PF Staff in Articles and Tips on May 19, 2016
Tethering Guide for the Pentax Lightroom Plugin

The Pentax Tethered Capture Plug-In developed by Ricoh Imaging allows you to easily tether the Pentax K-1 or 645Z using Adobe Lightroom.  While tethered, photos you capture are instantly imported to your computer for viewing and editing!

In this article, we'll show you how set things up and we'll present the plugin's key features.

Software Requirements

You need to have either Adobe Lightroom CC or Lightroom 6 to be able to make use of this plugin.  You can always install a free trial of Lightroom CC to test things out.

Supported operating systems include Windows 7/8/10 and Max OS X 10.9 or newer.

Setup Instructions

A quick installation, firmware update, and setting change is all that's needed to prepare for tethering:

Verifying that the plugin is running

Note that on Windows, if you installed the tethering plugin using the "Run as Administrator" option, you will also have to run Lightroom as an administrator.  The opposite also applies.

Starting Tethering

Once you've followed the steps above, starting tethering is trivial:

  • Connect the camera to your PC and power it on
  • In Lightroom, click on "File -> Tethered Capture"
  • Use the shutter button on the camera or the shutter button in Lightroom to capture photos

You should see a flyover similar to this one on your screen:

Tethered capture bar

If you see the message "No Camera Connected", ensure that you camera is plugged in, powered on, and in the correct USB mode, and verify that the Pentax tethering plugin has been correctly installed.

Also, ensure that no other program on your computer is trying to access the camera's memory card or import files.

Note that it is normal for the screen on the back of the camera to flicker a few times after being powered on.  The camera will also be unresponsive while setting up its USB connection.

Plugin Features

This tethering plugin has a very basic feature set.  In a nutshell, it carries out two key functions:

  • Releasing the camera's shutter from your computer
  • Instantly transferring photos from the camera to your computer

While tethered, every time you release the shutter, the resulting photo will instantly be copied to your computer and imported into the Lightroom library.  This applies to photos taken using the button in Lightroom as well as photos taken using the camera itself.  Files are imported in the format selected in-camera to the folder selected in Lightroom, and they take a few seconds to show up.

Contrary to Ricoh literature, we found that the K-1 also saves all photos to its internal memory card while tethered.

Lightroom does show you the shutter speed, ISO, aperture, and white balance setting currently selected on the camera, but these settings cannot be changed from the PC.

We only recommend the use of the single frame and self-timer drive modes while tethered. Although most of the camera's other drive modes are supported, we regularly experienced freezes while in Bulb and when shooting bursts or bracketing. Ricoh does not recommend usage of the intervalometer or composite modes.   If the camera does freeze, a battery pull may be needed to bring it back to life.  Freezes are more likely when long exposures or bursts are involved.

Lightroom screenshot while tethered - Click to enlarge

Imported photos immediately be edited in traditional Lightroom fashion.

Conclusion

While the Pentax Lightroom tethering plugin has a very basic feature set, it's free, easy to set up and use, and can greatly speed up studio workflow.

If you're looking for features such as exposure control and tethered live view, those are supported by Pentax Image Transmitter 2 software.  The price of this software varies by market; in the US it costs $199. 

Read our Image Transmitter 2 guide/review

Both of these solutions only support the Pentax K-1 and 645Z.  Ricoh currently has no plans to extend official desktop tethering support to recent APS-C models.  However, the K-S2 (as well as the K-1) can be controlled wirelessly via an Android/iOS smartphone or tablet using the free Image Sync app.  Similarly, the K-3, K-3 II, K-S1, and 645Z can be controlled remotely using the O-FC1 FluCard accessory.

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