Forums > Photography Talk > Nikon - Don't tell me it'll sync at 250 if it wont

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

Nikon specs say that the D800 (and the D300 for that matter), will sync at 250. Well, it won't. 200 is the highest mine will sync at cleanly (both my D800E and my D300), in the studio (Profoto and Balcar strobes w/PWIIplus). The curtain is relatively thin and resembles more of a vertical slight vignette on the right side. But it's the curtain. And it's obnoxious!

Why can't they just be honest and say that the highest sync speed is 200?

Feb 10 13 05:20 pm Link

Photographer

Motordrive Photography

Posts: 3090

Lodi, California, US

maybe it does just fine at 1/250 with shoe mounted SB800 and no flash trigger.
there are a million combos of studio strobes and radio triggers.

Feb 10 13 05:27 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

Motordrive Photography wrote:
maybe it does just fine at 1/250 with shoe mounted SB800 and no flash trigger.
there are a million combos of studio strobes and radio triggers.

They actually claim 320 with their silly little on-camera flashes.

Feb 10 13 05:32 pm Link

Photographer

Jose Deida

Posts: 1174

BLANDON, Pennsylvania, US

Use a sync cable and test again? smile

Feb 10 13 05:36 pm Link

Photographer

Michael Chiong

Posts: 52

Manila, National Capital Region, Philippines

Motordrive is right, I've experienced the same thing regardless of camera brands, on shoe mounted flash it does what it says.
By the way I'm using visatech strobes triggered by flash sync cord..

Feb 10 13 05:37 pm Link

Photographer

R Michael Walker

Posts: 11986

Costa Mesa, California, US

John Allan wrote:
Nikon specs say that the D800 (and the D300 for that matter), will sync at 250. Well, it won't. 200 is the highest mine will sync at cleanly (both my D800E and my D300), in the studio (Profoto and Balcar strobes w/PWIIplus). The curtain is relatively thin and resembles more of a vertical slight vignette on the right side. But it's the curtain. And it's obnoxious!

Why can't they just be honest and say that the highest sync speed is 200?

My D800 syncs at 250 with my Photogenics. It syncs at 320 with the internal flash and about any speed i want with SB800. It depends on the flash units. ABs only get 1/200 with it. Don't blame Nikon when the strobe manufactures (or triggers) deviate from the norm for what ever reason. I will note that I use my studio strobes at their lowest settings most of the time so that gives the shortest flash duration. Maybe try lowering your power and see if that helps. Also, the suggestion to try a sync cord instead of the PW is a good idea. But I triggers on mine and still maintain the high sync speed EXCEPT with the AB line.

Feb 10 13 05:39 pm Link

Photographer

pullins photography

Posts: 5878

Troy, Michigan, US

John Allan wrote:
Nikon specs say that the D800 (and the D300 for that matter), will sync at 250. Well, it won't. 200 is the highest mine will sync at cleanly (both my D800E and my D300), in the studio (Profoto and Balcar strobes w/PWIIplus). The curtain is relatively thin and resembles more of a vertical slight vignette on the right side. But it's the curtain. And it's obnoxious!

Why can't they just be honest and say that the highest sync speed is 200?

send the camera back for repairs.

Feb 10 13 05:40 pm Link

Photographer

Æmagine

Posts: 6097

Biloxi, Mississippi, US

I understand your frustration with published specs, but do you really need it to sync at 1/250th?

Feb 10 13 05:41 pm Link

Photographer

Steven A Thompson

Posts: 549

Los Angeles, California, US

I was only getting 200 with my AB's until I upgraded to Einsteins and now I get 1/250th. Never got over 200 with any light when I was using PW's.

With Nikon strobes and CLS you can go even higher with their fancy tricks.

Feb 10 13 05:42 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

Æmagine wrote:
I understand your frustration with published specs, but do you really need it to sync at 1/250th?

Not in the studio, doesn't matter, but if I'm doing strobes outside, yes.

Feb 10 13 05:42 pm Link

Photographer

rfordphotos

Posts: 4891

Antioch, California, US

For whatever it might be worth, my D300 seems to synch at 1/250th with PWII's and my Speedotrons with no issue. Would NOT do 1/320th, had a definite curtain in the image. Pretty much the same results with my D3s. I only tested the D800 at 1/200th, so I cant be of any use there at all...

I love my D300, but the one thing I HATE is no shutter speed lock. I have a habit of handing the camera to the model to chimp while I adjust lights etc... I am forever spinning the shutter speed to 1/320th and not noticing until I chimp....I've had to reshoot a lot of stuff.....

D3s is smarter than I am smile D800 too !!!

Feb 10 13 05:44 pm Link

Photographer

DougBPhoto

Posts: 38589

Portland, Oregon, US

John Allan wrote:
Nikon specs say that the D800 (and the D300 for that matter), will sync at 250. Well, it won't. 200 is the highest mine will sync at cleanly (both my D800E and my D300), in the studio (Profoto and Balcar strobes w/PWIIplus). The curtain is relatively thin and resembles more of a vertical slight vignette on the right side. But it's the curtain. And it's obnoxious!

Why can't they just be honest and say that the highest sync speed is 200?

I wonder if you'd have the same results if you tested the newer PW's, or as the other poster mentioned, via cord.

Rather than automatically blaming the cameras, there are multiple variables involved.

Feb 10 13 05:44 pm Link

Photographer

Æmagine

Posts: 6097

Biloxi, Mississippi, US

John Allan wrote:

Not in the studio, doesn't matter, but if I'm doing strobes outside, yes.

You can use a ND filter outside to reduce ambient light when using flash...

Feb 10 13 05:48 pm Link

Photographer

Fotografica Gregor

Posts: 4122

Alexandria, Virginia, US

The D800 will synch way faster than 1/250 with Nikon strobes even via CLS -

but I've not yet seen any Nikon other than the D70s that will synch with studio strobes at faster than 1/250

1/250 works fine with my AlienBees and Einsteins.   1/320 give intermittent (maybe 1/10) black bands.  I usually stay at 1/200 just for a safety margin.....

for outdoors fill I use the AB800R ringlight directly connected to the cameras PC port -   YMMV but mine set up that way will synch at 1/500......

Feb 10 13 05:48 pm Link

Photographer

David M Russell

Posts: 1134

New York, New York, US

Adding my voice to those that say it's probably your triggering system.

A) if you've got a triggering device mounted to your hot shoe and you have the camera set in any way to rear-curtain sync, you're not gonna have a good time.

B) If you're syncing wirelessly and haven't checked to make sure that there isn't a a delay that will mess up your max sync speed, you're not gonna have a good time.

Feb 10 13 05:53 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

David M Russell wrote:
Adding my voice to those that say it's probably your triggering system.

A) if you've got a triggering device mounted to your hot shoe and you have the camera set in any way to rear-curtain sync, you're not gonna have a good time.

B) If you're syncing wirelessly and haven't checked to make sure that there isn't a a delay that will mess up your max sync speed, you're not gonna have a good time.

So - how would you suggest testing for a delay?
And what could I even do if there were one - this isn't cheap gear - it's a Profoto D4 pack with Pocket Wizard IIs (is PW advertising syncspeed problems resolved with their new units)?. I haven't tried yet with the D4's internal PW (keep forgetting to have the manual at the studio so I can set the channel).

Feb 10 13 05:56 pm Link

Photographer

ontherocks

Posts: 22616

Salem, Oregon, US

if you like keeping the ambient up in the studio for the customer (or for focusing) then it does matter. at 1/200s to avoid mixing in ambient i have to turn off the overhead lights and pull the drapes (unless it's a cloudy day) but then i need modeling lights in order to focus.

John Allan wrote:
Not in the studio, doesn't matter, but if I'm doing strobes outside, yes.

Feb 10 13 05:58 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

twoharts wrote:
if you like keeping the ambient up in the studio for the customer (or for focusing) then it does matter. at 1/200s to avoid mixing in ambient i have to turn off the overhead lights and pull the drapes (unless it's a cloudy day) but then i need modeling lights in order to focus.


That's a good point, and now that I think of it, why I've always used a fast sync (because I keep the lights on). Forgot about that for a minute.

Feb 10 13 06:00 pm Link

Photographer

rfordphotos

Posts: 4891

Antioch, California, US

John Allan wrote:
[...] The curtain is relatively thin and resembles more of a vertical slight vignette on the right side. But it's the curtain. And it's obnoxious!

[...]

Curious--the curtain is only visible on the right side of the frame? in what orientation? Should be along the long side of the frame I think---I assume that is what you are seeing?

Also---if the batteries get "tired" in my PWII's I do sometimes have firing/synch issues----its how I know to change the batteries smile

Feb 10 13 06:02 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

rfordphotos wrote:

Curious--the curtain is only visible on the right side of the frame? in what orientation? Should be along the long side of the frame I think---I assume that is what you are seeing?

Also---if the batteries get "tired" in my PWII's I do sometimes have firing/synch issues----its how I know to change the batteries smile

I'm shooting portrait - it's on the right side of the frame.

Feb 10 13 06:07 pm Link

Photographer

Zack Zoll

Posts: 2641

Glens Falls, New York, US

Steven A Thompson wrote:
I was only getting 200 with my AB's until I upgraded to Einsteins and now I get 1/250th. Never got over 200 with any light when I was using PW's.

With Nikon strobes and CLS you can go even higher with their fancy tricks.

I get 1/250th with my Nikons, but my NEX is limited to 1/200th.  Never bothered to check max sync speed with on-camera flashes with the NEX, since I don't use them.

It is what it is.  There's nothing anybody can do about it, unless you want to McNally it up.

Also ... anybody else remember the great sync speed on the D70/D70s?  Any idea why we can't still have that?

Feb 10 13 06:08 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

Zack Zoll wrote:

I get 1/250th with my Nikons, but my NEX is limited to 1/200th.  Never bothered to check max sync speed with on-camera flashes with the NEX, since I don't use them.

It is what it is.  There's nothing anybody can do about it, unless you want to McNally it up.

Also ... anybody else remember the great sync speed on the D70/D70s?  Any idea why we can't still have that?

Yes - D70 had an electronic shutter.

Feb 10 13 06:09 pm Link

Photographer

MCPHOTO

Posts: 732

Duvall, Washington, US

My D300 does 250 sync with studio lights. I did it a couple times with a soccer player and a volleyball player.

Feb 10 13 06:11 pm Link

Photographer

Fotografica Gregor

Posts: 4122

Alexandria, Virginia, US

twoharts wrote:
if you like keeping the ambient up in the studio for the customer (or for focusing) then it does matter. at 1/200s to avoid mixing in ambient i have to turn off the overhead lights and pull the drapes (unless it's a cloudy day) but then i need modeling lights in order to focus.

Really?  Are you sure?   At what f/stop?

If I turn on the lights including overhead spots as bright as they go in our studio and set my camera to ISO200  1/200 f5.6 I get a black frame - and those are bright lights....   I do this when teaching lighting -  to demonstrate to those I am working with that the "world is dark" unless you add light - that lighting should be an additive process.....

Feb 10 13 06:12 pm Link

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Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36353

San Francisco, California, US

OK, I have to ask you a question, what power setting are you using on the strobes and what is the duration of the light at that setting?

It is an interesting equation.  I have often mentioned that on page 107 of the Canon 5D II manual, Canon recommends using a sync speed of 1/60th with studio strobes even though the camera has a sync speed of 1/250th. 

There are two things that come into play, light duration and lag time.   As an example, at the extreme end, the big Speedotron packs have a flash duration of 1/80th of a second at full power.  So, any sync speed faster than 1/80th would be outside the light window.  Add in lag and Canon recommends 1/60th to be safe.

At my studio I recommend that my clients use a sync speed of 1/160th even though many of the cameras, regardless of brand, will sync at 1/200th or 1/250th.  I have found that at 1/160th, I can be secure that nobody will get sync bars from their shutters.

So, what you have is a combination of flash duration and delay time.  It is common.  Your ability to sync at 1/250th will depend on flash duration, brand of equipment and type of trigger. 

Have you tried it with a sync cord to see what happens?

Feb 10 13 06:14 pm Link

Photographer

T Urban Photography

Posts: 267

Somerset, Pennsylvania, US

I have the same issues on my D800 when trying to use my ABs at 1/250 outdoors (triggering with PW III).  Never had an issue with the same set up with my D700.  I thought my shutter was failing at first because it was extremely bad at 1/250 and even showed up at 1/200. 

I might try a different trigger and see what happens.

Feb 10 13 06:15 pm Link

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Photographer

GPS Studio Services

Posts: 36353

San Francisco, California, US

John Allan wrote:
Yes - D70 had an electronic shutter.

Actually, it had a hybrid, mechanical/electronic shutter.  The shutter was electronic above 1/250th of a second and mechanical below.

Part of the reason they could do it was the CCD sensor.  CCD's don't require ramp up time (no lag) while the CMOS sensors of the day did.

Feb 10 13 06:16 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

GPS Studio Services wrote:
OK, I have to ask you a question, what power setting are you using on the strobes and what is the duration of the light at that setting?

It is an interesting equation.  I have often mentioned that on page 107 of the Canon 5D II manual, Canon recommends using a sync speed of 1/60th with studio strobes even though the camera has a sync speed of 1/250th. 

There are two things that come into play, light duration and lag time.   As an example, at the extreme end, the big Speedotron packs have a flash duration of 1/80th of a second at full power.  So, any sync speed faster than 1/80th would be outside the light window.  Add in lag and Canon recommends 1/60th to be safe.

At my studio I recommend that my clients use a sync speed of 1/160th even though many of the cameras, regardless of brand, will sync at 1/200th or 1/250th.  I have found that at 1/160th, I can be secure that nobody will get sync bars from their shutters.

So, what you have is a combination of flash duration and delay time.  It is common.  Your ability to sync at 1/250th will depend on flash duration, brand of equipment and type of trigger. 

Have you tried it with a sync cord to see what happens?

Published flash duration is 1/4500 (t0.5) and I'm at a fairly low power level, so I'm probably pretty close to that.
No I haven't tried a sync cord yet (that's a good test to eliminate a link in the chain) - my sync cord is on the fritz and I've been procrastinating about replacing it.

Feb 10 13 06:20 pm Link

Photographer

rfordphotos

Posts: 4891

Antioch, California, US

GPS Studio Services wrote:
[...]
There are two things that come into play, light duration and lag time.   As an example, at the extreme end, the big Speedotron packs have a flash duration of 1/80th of a second at full power.  So, any sync speed faster than 1/80th would be outside the light window.  Add in lag and Canon recommends 1/60th to be safe.

[...]

It is pretty rare for me to disagree with anything you say on technical stuff---your experience far exceeds mine. But unless I am misunderstanding you, I dont think you have the speedo stuff quite right....

Your point is very well made though, that it could be a combination of many things.... With his profoto gear I think he is waaaaay shorter than any of the discussed shutter speeds....

with a 2403CX (2400 w/s)

w/103B: 1/450 @full, 1/770 @half, 1/1300 @quarter power
w/102: 1/225 @full, 1/400 @half, 1/670 @quarter power
w/202VF: 1/300 @full, 1/500 @half, 1/900 @quarter power
w/105: 1/1175 @full, 1/2000 @half, 1/3570 @quarter power

even the big 4803 (4800 w/s)

w/206VF: 1/175 @full, 1/300 @half, 1/500 @quarter power, w/14202 adapter cable
w/105 (2 & 4 cable): 1/1175 @full, 1/2000 @half power

So, the only Speedo flash combos I see that would give you a synch problem at
1/250th would be a single 102 head at full power, or a single 206vf at full power..... add a second head to either system and the synch speed should be comfortable at 1/250th.....

Feb 10 13 06:27 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

Just realized that the Profoto isn't illuminating the background, (which is where I'm seeing the curtain - the Balcar Concept is), which is slower than the Profoto which is on the llama

Feb 10 13 06:54 pm Link

Photographer

David M Russell

Posts: 1134

New York, New York, US

John Allan wrote:
So - how would you suggest testing for a delay?
And what could I even do if there were one - this isn't cheap gear - it's a Profoto D4 pack with Pocket Wizard IIs (is PW advertising syncspeed problems resolved with their new units)?. I haven't tried yet with the D4's internal PW (keep forgetting to have the manual at the studio so I can set the channel).

I'd start by shooting with a sync cord. That should answer it right there.

I've had problems with PWs in the past. The old ones (oldest ones?) suddenly just stopped syncing at 250 when new cameras came out.

Make sure that you're camera is set to all normal flash settings (no rear sync/red eye bullshit).

BTW: If the D4 pack works anything like the other Profotos with built-in PWs, you just press and hold the transmitter test button near the pack when you turn the pack on. Hold for a second or two after the pack is on and the channel should be set. Give that a try.

How's that D4 pack? Everything I've done in the past has been on location, but now that I have a studio I'd love to have a D4.

-D

Feb 10 13 06:58 pm Link

Photographer

Ruben Sanchez

Posts: 3505

San Antonio, Texas, US

upgrade your camera's firmware.  Could be that there's conflicts beweent your camera and flash.

Feb 10 13 06:59 pm Link

Photographer

Aaron Lewis Photography

Posts: 5083

Catskill, New York, US

I don't think it's the camera. I think it has something to do with your PW's. The D300 and D800 both sync fine at 1/250th with my AB's and cyber commander set up. As does the D600

If it is the camera, make sure the firmware is up to date. If it's still not right, send it in for repair but since you have the same issue with the 5 year old D300 I'm guessing it's not the body

Feb 10 13 07:10 pm Link

Photographer

J O H N A L L A N

Posts: 10328

Santa Ana, California, US

David M Russell wrote:

I'd start by shooting with a sync cord. That should answer it right there.

I've had problems with PWs in the past. The old ones (oldest ones?) suddenly just stopped syncing at 250 when new cameras came out.

Make sure that you're camera is set to all normal flash settings (no rear sync/red eye bullshit).

BTW: If the D4 pack works anything like the other Profotos with built-in PWs, you just press and hold the transmitter test button near the pack when you turn the pack on. Hold for a second or two after the pack is on and the channel should be set. Give that a try.

How's that D4 pack? Everything I've done in the past has been on location, but now that I have a studio I'd love to have a D4.

-D

Thanks for the suggestions - I'll try the hold and turn-on. That sounds something like what I remember reading in the manual - I've just been lazy so I've been using a PW in the sync socket.

Yeah love it. I've been spoiled for years with Balcar's Concept pack, which has 4 independently variable 1/10 stop channels. So when Balcar went out of business finally a a year or so ago (so kind of forced to migrate), I was really demanding to not lose that flexibility. The D4 provides that (with even significantly more of a range). So I'm pretty happy. Also the faster flash duration I'm liking, as my hands aren't as steady after holding the heavy camera for a couple hours.
I've tried to use their computer control software, which is pretty cool, but so far I haven't used it for a real project, because it's kind of 'jumpy' over the usb.

Feb 10 13 07:14 pm Link

Photographer

Zack Zoll

Posts: 2641

Glens Falls, New York, US

GPS Studio Services wrote:

Actually, it had a hybrid, mechanical/electronic shutter.  The shutter was electronic above 1/250th of a second and mechanical below.

Part of the reason they could do it was the CCD sensor.  CCD's don't require ramp up time (no lag) while the CMOS sensors of the day did.

That explains it.  Then again, I would think that they would have found a way to improve that by now ... the NEX has an electronic front curtain (as an option), so one would think it could work similarly.

Feb 10 13 07:14 pm Link

Photographer

Derrick_G_FlossyFlick

Posts: 141

Edgewood, Maryland, US

I was wondering the same thing! I thought it was my strobes or my speed lights wasn't sure so I stayed at 200th to keep from having issues. It would be nice to go to 250th for darker backgrounds indeed. But I will try some of the suggestions here and see what happens.
Nice info peeps!

Feb 10 13 07:26 pm Link

Photographer

Paul Dempsey

Posts: 673

Atlantic City, New Jersey, US

I have shot Nikon D300, Nikon D700 with ABs at 250/sec with out any problem for years using the AB mono lights and Paul Buff triggers.

Feb 10 13 07:30 pm Link

Photographer

Raoul Isidro Images

Posts: 6289

Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

The Jurassic Nikon D70 syncs at a whopping 1/500.

Nikon can put it on any camera.

But They Won't.

.

Feb 10 13 07:57 pm Link

Photographer

Speedlight87

Posts: 22

Eugene, Oregon, US

If you are shooting indoors try light activated triggers if you have them. You can use your speedlight turned down to a low power to trigger them. You can get much higher sync speeds this way. RF is much slower than the speed of light.

Feb 10 13 08:05 pm Link

Photographer

Good Egg Productions

Posts: 15718

Orlando, Florida, US

John Allan wrote:
They actually claim 320 with their silly little on-camera flashes.

I routinely can sync at 1/320 with AB and Einstein strobes using the PCB trigger.  Sometimes 1/400, but rarely.  1/250 has never ... ever been a problem.  On both a D700 and D800.

A friend of mine has PWs and he will only go to 1/200 to stay safe as he has about a 50% success rate at 1/250 on his Canon.

Feb 10 13 08:07 pm Link