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Monthly Archives: December 2016

How the 2016 MacBook Pro and USB-C Ports Work with Tethered Photography

When Apple introduced the 2016 MacBook Pro, it followed the design of the MacBook and replaced all the ports with USB-C (or what Apple calls Thunderbolt 3) ports. Our initial impression is very mixed as USB-C is a very fast interface (up to 40 Gbps) but the connector itself is very flimsy/frail/non-robust/weak. The USB-C connector is about the size and build quality of a USB2 Micro-B connector which is the little connector that most Samsung phones use to charge. And anyone with a Samsung phone will tell you those connectors break and fail all the time. USB-C on the left and USB-Micro-B on the right. Both pretty flimsy, right? So, what does that mean for tethered shooting? First it means you're going to need plenty of adapters because there are hardly any USB-C devices out there including camera tether cables. Although if anyone does start making USB-C tether cables, we would stay away from them. You'll be better off using your USB2 or USB3 tether cable with a USB-C adapter for the fact that the USB-C connector is so flimsy that you'll probably be breaking the connector a lot. Just the weight of a tether cable is enough to bend the USB-C connector let alone someone jerking the cable. Given that USB-C is a relatively new technology, we can only imagine that USB-C tether cables will be expensive. You'll be better off using USB-C to USB adapters as they are only a few dollars each which will be a lot easier on your wallet when you break them. We found this 2 pack of Rankie USB-C adapters on Amazon for $6.99 and so far we love them. They are small enough that you have enough room to put two next to each other in the MacBook Pro ports. They are also all metal and not plastic. And so far we have not had any connection or data problems using them. Two of the Rankie USB-C to USB adapters (from our link above) just barely fit side-by-side on the 2016 MacBook Pro. A lot of other adapters are too big to go side-by-side. When shooting tethered, we recommend using some kind of cable stability and management system like the one found on the DigiPlate Pro. This will drastically reduce the cable losing connection and broken connectors. The cable stability system you use really needs to be absolutely rigid like the DigiPlate Pro that keeps the the cable connector from moving at all—not even a millimeter. The USB-C connector is so thin and flimsy that just little movements that could result from using a non-rigid system like some of those string based cable stoppers will give you cable errors and disconnections while shooting tethered. The USB-C ports are so flimsy so you'll want some sort of cable stabilization like on this DigiPlate Pro otherwise you'll spend the day either reconnecting your tether cable or breaking the USB-C connector.

©2013 Nine Volt