The MacBook Pro USB-C Ports and Tethered Photography

[Updated March 2020] 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 20 Gbps for USB and 40 Gbps for Thunderbolt 3) 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 Android phones use to charge. And anyone with a Android phone will tell you those connectors break and fail all the time.

So, what does that mean for tethered shooting? First it means you're going to need plenty of dongles because there's a huge mix of USB-A and USB-C devices out there. As of early 2020, you are still 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 be breaking/bending 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. You'll be better off using USB-C to USB dongles as they are only a few dollars each which will be a lot easier on your wallet when you break them. We found this USB-C to USB-A dongle on Amazon and it's been our goto adapter for the past 2 years. And so far we have not had any connection or data problems using them. We previously recommended a rigid stick adapter (the ones that kind of look like a thumb drive) but because they are rigid they lose connection to easily.

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.

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