First Time in the US: Gulf Photo Plus is Coming to Seattle.

Nikon's D7000 Sync Dial Goes To Eleven

I'm just getting familiar a new Nikon D7000, which we are using to get some video on the Flash Bus tour. The camera gives some good files -- both stills and 1080HD video.

Just out of curiosity, I taped over the back two contacts tonight to see if I could overclock the sync a little. And I had a pleasant surprise…

First off, the camera cannot know there is a flash on it -- i.e., no crosstalk via the internal data channels -- or it will bump you into energy-robbing FP sync mode after an admittedly impressive 1/320th full-sync option.

But if you cut off the data flow by taping the back two contacts, or using a neutered SC-17, the camera will give a pretty clean sync at 1/400th up to about 1/4 power. And if you do not mind losing 1/6th of the frame at the bottom, you can go to 1/500th.

The latter compromise is not as bad as it sounds -- usually in this situation there is a strong ambient component, and it can easily go unsynced at the bottom of the frame.

You lose some energy from the flash as you walk up power levels from there, but it can be useful for you for outdoor flash shots nonetheless -- especially if your aim is to stay away from the sensor dust f/stops.

And yeah, I know this is salt in the wound those the Canon 5d MkII users who might not even get the advertised 1/200th sync. Sorry.

But just think how much worse you'd feel if the D7000 had turned out to be the mythical 16MP reincarnation of the no-speed-limit Nikon D70s.


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Blogger shambrick said...

Hey David,

Great news and another reason to be tempted away from my trusty D80.

A while ago I posted an entry on my blog, wondering when manufacturers would allow us to choose between mechanical or electroinic shutter:

Your crdibility and kudos might actually be able to deliver on that dream...

March 11, 2011 12:33 AM  
Blogger Will Alan said...

Wow... you're still bitter about the 5DM2 after all this time? I've shot 1/320 with High Speed Sync MANY times over the past 2 years shooting into the sun at ISO 50... easy work. (obviously close-ish range). See you in the morning...

March 11, 2011 1:50 AM  
Blogger Nomad Photography said...

Sounds like fun.
This should open up some new interesting opportunities.

March 11, 2011 1:52 AM  
Blogger Digiphotoneil said...

Bah! My 5D Mk2 synchs to 1/8000th (with some banding) in the right situation. The right situation involves a PW mini TT1 and an Elinchrom Ranger.

It'll do 1/250th with a mini TT1 and a speedlight.

Wow.. I don't normally leap to the defense of expensive cameras on the internet!

Cheers Dave! Enjoy the US tour!

March 11, 2011 2:14 AM  
Blogger Gabriel said...

Yeah, I'd been strongly considering buying the d7000 (until a sweetheart deal on the d700 fell into my lap), and I'm glad to hear that it's full of awesome.

It seems pretty much like that Nikon's cameras that begin with seven are fantastic. My wife got a d70 a long time ago, and is still really happy with it.

See you tomorrow at the workshop.

March 11, 2011 2:15 AM  
Blogger ac6rm said...

Sure looks nice. My D200 technically hasn't paid for itself, so i've got no business.

Do you think that at some point they'd let us use an "electronic" shutter in camera (still) mode? They seem to be able to keep the mechanical shutter open for video and control frame exposure, or is that a different sensor?

March 11, 2011 2:34 AM  
Blogger David said...

Interesting. I have a d7000 and enjoy the camera as well. How are you tape'n over exactly. I tried myself and didn't notice that much of a difference between an untaped to taped flash mount. I was using a off camera flash (sb-700) and a impact 16 trigger system. Could you post a pic of what/how you taped over the sensors? or how your camera was set up to get the minium 1/6 of the bottom of the frame on 1/500. Also the camera settings would be helpful too! thanks again!

March 11, 2011 5:05 AM  
Blogger Drew said...


and such is why I just love my D40.

Though D7k will probably be my next camera!

March 11, 2011 5:49 AM  
Blogger Eric Rose said...

Exactly why I have kept my D70s even though I shoot mainly with a D700.

March 11, 2011 9:59 AM  
Blogger m said...

Hey, the tape trick was new to me. Just tried it on my D300 with a SB-600:

1/8 @ 1/400 gives me an almost invisible darkening line at the top.

1/8 @ 1/500 I loose the top 20% of the frame.

1/4 @ 1/400 the darkening line gets a bit more pronounced.

1/4 @ 1/500 I lose the top 25% of the frame.

It seems that the flash has a lot more oomph with the tape trick. I guess that's because it doesn't loose power trying to high speed synch.

March 11, 2011 10:09 AM  
Blogger tweedlebug said...

Sync speed is only one of the reasons I love my Mamiya RZ67, which tops out at 400, or the Hasselblad which tops out at 800. I don't have the new Mamiya camera or lenses which top out at 1600, but that would be nice too.

March 11, 2011 10:39 AM  
Blogger Rob said...

I have a D7000. Yippee! Great cam!
The problem is that diddling around with sync speed in any CMOS camera is just an exercise in futility.
We all know that crazy high straight up flash sync died with the switch from CCD to CMOS.
My daughter shot this:
with her Nikon D40 and Cybersync's at a 2500th of a sec. sync! Ha! Now thar's yer dam high speed sync!!! Long live the D40!!! (and D50/D70/D70s/D80)
Anyway.... See you at Flashbus NYC!!

March 11, 2011 11:04 AM  
Blogger Gerard said...

Hi David, neat post! I wanted to ask which speedlights you used for this test, as different speedlights have (somewhat) different flash durations. I'm guessing SB-800s, but it'd be good to know for sure. Thanks and good luck on tour!

March 11, 2011 12:52 PM  
OpenID raldencopley said...

Reason #100something why this will be my next camera - unless I don't get a new body until the D700 replacement comes out.

March 11, 2011 1:18 PM  
Blogger jhelms said...

With the D3 and D700, I've been able to consistently high speed sync with 3 different studio strobes and Nikon speedlights using Bowens/Pulsar radio triggers up to 1/8000th.

BTW, I'm looking forward to THE FLASH BUS Atlanta class!

March 11, 2011 1:20 PM  
Blogger WingedPower said...

Does this work if your flash and camera are linked with a pair of PocketWizard PlusII's? That's pretty awesome.

March 11, 2011 1:57 PM  
Blogger Sean said...


Sorry if this is an obvious (and OT) one, but what exactly is a "sensor dust f-stop"? I assume there is a range of f-stops where dust-bunnies begin to come into focus. Is there further info on this somewhere?


Just curious.

March 11, 2011 2:27 PM  
Blogger Rex-Rizza said...

Oh yeah!! I have D7000! and really loving it! can't wait to see you and Joe McNally on Monday at San Jose!

March 11, 2011 5:29 PM  
Blogger David said...


I used an SB-800

@Sean -

Meaning f/16, f/22, etc. -- where the bunnies really show up.

March 11, 2011 5:51 PM  
Blogger Chris said...

I tried this out with my D7000 but I was only able to sync up to 1/250 before the black strip started appearing.

March 11, 2011 11:18 PM  
Blogger -Rowanphoto said...

Ah... I miss the good old days of the no-speed-limit cameras. I still keep a 1D classic around for high-speed situations, and that camera's more then 10 years old...

To all those defending the 5DII, can you please not? I love my 5D, but it really doesn't work to push it. I've made it work at 1/320 with PW's and Sunpak 555's, but it's not reliable and if one frame gets ruined by banding, then you might miss the moment. I once shot a whole basketball game at 1/250 using the stadium's big strobes, it looked good on the camera, but when I pulled them up on the computer, I saw that the bottom 10% was dark and I had to crop the shots down.

I just hope that canon gives us 1/250 on the next incarnation. It's pretty cold to limit the camera just to protect the prestige of the 1Ds line.

March 12, 2011 2:19 PM  
Blogger daniel said...

my deardorff tops out at 1/125, so you guys have it easy

March 13, 2011 2:44 PM  
Blogger Clement said...

Hey good news for hobbyist like me who don't max out their credit cards on equipment! The Rebel T1i gives me a perfect synch at 1/250th, while it's supposed to synch only at 1/200th. And with a cheapo Ishoot radio trigger!

March 14, 2011 12:45 PM  
Blogger Felix said...

I like the idea to support medium and high class cameras with the electronic shutter feature.
I just learned last month that I can sync my D40 not only 1/500 but up to 1/1000 by using skyport triggers.

Greeting from Bavaria!

March 17, 2011 5:39 PM  
Blogger THURO said...

Hey David, I asked you about this in San Diego at the end of The Flash Bus Tour, which was truly an enlightening experience ;)

I am happy to report that I tested this, and it works great. I use the yongnuo RF-602 radio system, unfortunately when the d7000 is used in combo with that, I can only go to 1/250th. I set it my flashes up as optical slaves however, and it works fantastically.

For my test shot (a bottle of Tequila) I had 1 Yongnuo YN460 on the camera as a master, another YN460 slaved camera right, and 1 SB-800 slaved camera left. I'm happy to report all flashes fired, and the image has very little light falloff at 1/400. I'm guessing it's time to get myself a really long PC Chord for my SB-800 to use as the master.

Here's the test shot, I know it's not the best image, in terms of specular highlights, or the reflections on the bottle, in fact I know it isn't even close to it, but I did't intend it to be a portfolio piece, I just wanted to test flash sync speed. :)

March 19, 2011 3:57 PM  
Blogger Rex-Rizza said...

Hi David! just wanted to share this to fellow D7000 users.

I use CLS only, no radio triggers. I use my pop-up flash or my SB-700 as master, set commander to (--), and i'm able to override flash sync to as high as 1/8000! D70 reincarnated in D7000? yes!! and no taping required.

November 28, 2011 1:04 PM  
Blogger David Hobby said...


Sadly, no.

The "---" setting is only allowing you to trigger hi-speed sync (the pulsing, light-robbing kind) and not engage in the full-pop hi-sync as in the D70/s.


November 28, 2011 3:24 PM  
Blogger Rex-Rizza said...

Hmm..i knew it, sounds too good be true. I only tested indoors to check if there was no black banding at high shutter speeds.

But would this still allow me to use off-cam lighting as fill for my shots say if i want to shoot at wider apertures? Also stop down my background exposure at broad daylight and not be limited by the speed sync 1/250 or Auto FP 1/320. I'm pretty sure there would be some nice use to this, right?

Not sure with other Nikon camera but i checked with my old D90 and this does not work, it's locked at 1/200 but with the D7000 it isn't.

November 28, 2011 5:15 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

So, I must be the king of prior post comments:) I have 4 kids 8 and under so getting to try this stuff doesn't come easy. Finally got out some tape this evening and since the d7000 is my camera, gave it a whirl. I was at 1/8 power with an sb700 on the camera with scotch tape over the back two pins. I was getting 400 pretty much TOTALLY clean. I took it up to 500, and noticed that for the most part, the grid in the camera was a perfect guide. There's a line about 1/4-1/3 of the way up the viewfinder and that seemed to be the line I was getting at 500 & 1/8th power. If I took it down to 1/32 I could be at 500 and get just the smallest sliver of darkness on the bottom. Very handy tip. Thanks for being such a good tinkerer and finding these little gems. Now I have to try and go out and make use of this little trick;)

April 18, 2012 9:11 PM  
Blogger afallenman said...

I lose all sync at 1/4 power. Frame goes completely black unless I put it back down to 1/8 power. Not sure why it's doing this.

January 23, 2013 12:05 AM  

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