Are you a Photographer suffering from Sausage Finger Syndrome?

Written by: Glyn Dewis

Published: January 26, 2011

Category: General

Ok so here’s the thing…I’ve lost count how many times whilst I’ve been shooting in Manual Mode using Flash either on location or in the studio when by accident I’ve inadvertently knocked the dial on the back of my camera adjusting the shutter speed from its maximum sync speed of 1/250sec up to 1/320sec resulting in a black strip/band appearing on a portion of the photo.

In the scheme of things I guess it’s no big deal as it’s pretty obvious what’s happened but the reason I shoot in Manual is for the consistency of exposure from shot to shot.

So just incase I’m not the only Photographer with what is commonly known in the medical world as ‘Sausage Finger Syndrome‘ (only kidding) here’s a camera tip to put an end to your woes…

*Note: Being a Nikon Shooter this particular tip is relevant to Nikon cameras (in my case the D3) but I’m going to make a wild statement and say that this facility is likely possible in your camera too; just look up ‘Shutter Speed Lock’ or similar in your manual or on the ‘inter web’ and see if it is and how to do it.

Step 1: Press down the ‘L’ Button

Step 2: Whilst pressing down the ‘L’ button, rotate the Main Command Dial until an ‘L’ symbol appears in the viewfinder and the top control panel.

The Shutter Speed will now be locked at whatever you originally set it to and you can see this by the now visible ‘L‘ symbol…

To unlock the shutter speed, simply go through the same process of pressing the ‘L‘ button and at the same time rotating the main command dial until the ‘L‘ icon disappears from the displays.

In addition, here’s what’s written ‘word for word’ in the camera manual…

The ‘L’ button can be used to lock shutter speed at the value selected in Shutter Priority, Auto or Manual exposure mode, or to lock aperture at the value selected in Aperture Priority, Auto and Manual exposure modes. Lock is not available in programmed auto.

So there you have it…a fast, painless, injection free cure for Sausage Finger Syndrome.

Oh, one more thing…if you do happen to know how this can be done in other cameras or brands of camera then as always please feel free to make use of the comments section below.

Enjoy 🙂

* UPDATE: My buddy Brian Worley aka Mr Canon has written a great follow up post showing how this can be done on certain models of Canon DSLR’s. You can check it out here [Link]

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16 Comments

  1. Dean Robertson

    Glyn

    Thats interesting, I’m a Sony man and there’s no equivalent functionaility on the bodies I carry and I have made this mistake plenty of times :-(.

    One thing it’s worth learning is how far the black band comes into the frame at speeds just above sync and also what side it comes from. Sometimes when you need a little bit more shutter speed you can actually go beyone sync and use the black band as a compositional element if you turn the camera so the black is coming from a side where you might want to burn down the image a bit. An example might be the road on your picture of the motor bike.

    Great blog and great work!

    Cheers

    Dean

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Hi Dean, thanks for stopping by and commenting.

      The band/stripe always appears from the bottom of the sensor when in landscape orientation on my D3 and a trick I learned from David Ziser was to turn the camera upside down so that it can be used to darken down the sky in a photo; works a treat 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words,
      Glyn 🙂

      Reply
  2. David Monteith-Hodge

    I did not know about this. Shows how much I pay attention. I do this often enough. I use the D700 and found out where the commands are on the menu. Sweet! Thanks muchly for the info 🙂 Love the blog by the way.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Hi David,

      Glad to hear the blog post has helped out; I was forever doing this so thankfully now that isn’t the case 🙂

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog mate; I really appreciate it.

      Cheers,
      Glyn

      Reply
  3. Brian Worley

    Glyn this is a good point, and yes there are some options for Canon shooters too. I often find that with EOS-1D series cameras switching the dials round so that the rear dial is the shutter speed and the front one is the aperture works since there is a lock switch on the rear control dial disabling it’s effect on the shutter speed.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Brian…Thanks for commenting mate; I was actually hoping you’d do so seeing as you are officially the font of all knowledge when it comes to all things Canon 🙂

      Cheers Buddy

      Reply
  4. Sue

    On the D40 it seems to be the AE-L/AF-L button which you have to keep pressed to stop exposure settings changing but it also depends what you have set-up in the AE-L/AF-L menu as to what that button does.

    One of those functions I think you have to sit down and think about how you want it to play before you go out and shoot.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      Sue, thanks for commenting. If you do find out exactly how to do it on the D40 I’d love to hear; thanks.

      Hope all is well with you 🙂

      Reply
  5. Paul Hodgson

    Hi Glyn, interesting report. Curious though, can’t you engage the high speed sync? I’m sure that would cure the black stripe issue although the flash power would drop significantly. Having typed that though, I’m off to check how manual flash settings appear as well as ttl.

    Reply
    • Glyn

      @Paul…Hi mate, thanks for dropping by. Interesting what you say about High Speed sync but unfortunately this is only possible when shooting using TTL and the Nikon CLS. I tend to use wireless triggers ie Pocket Wizards to trigger flash as they aren’t dependent on ‘line of sight’.

      However that being said, this past week I’ve been using the new Pocket Wizard Flex and Mini for Nikon which allows TTL to be sent wireless and not infra red. This opens up a lot of possibilities not least the ability to sync with studio Strobes/big flash at 1/500sec and to sync with speed lights up to speeds of 1/8000sec.

      Exciting stuff which potentially changes things alot and I’ll be putting together a post on here reviewing them.

      Thanks again mate; I really appreciate you stopping by.

      All the best,
      Glyn

      Reply
  6. David Zinyama

    Great you have posted this, I’m a Canon user and this actually happened to me yesterday a couple of times. Infact it does happen to me everytime I shoot and I wonder how did I turn the dial. Great post once again.

    Reply
  7. Baron Cooper

    On the Nikon D300 you can’t lock the function but they did locate a special spot for the sync speed just past the Bulb Function on the command dial. You set the sync speed via the menu. That way if you are at the sync speed and turn the command dial it will go to bulb or something much slower that the sync speed, giving you a clue that something has changed.

    Reply
  8. Callum Winton

    D700 is in the menu rather than a button on the 3 series bodies.

    Menu option F8 … one to add to your “My Menu” 🙂

    CW

    Reply
  9. Steve Fell

    Great stuff Glyn, really helpful.

    Reply
  10. Matthew Roach

    HA!!

    I was at an group experimental lighting shoot on the weekend and was discussing this very issue with another shooter there. I have a D300 & have previously used the menu option “e1” to set the flash sync speed at my chosen speed. This prevents the shutter speed going higher than the speed set in the menu. BUT, only when using the onboard flash (or as a CLS trigger)… I’ve not tried it out when shooting with poverty wizards but I figure it probably wouldn’t work without a Nikon brand toy on the hotshoe. Come to think of it I should probably try it out with the SU800 but I never have thought to do so.

    Other than the suggestion made by Baron Cooper above (which is a good one and I’d never heard of it before) another solution for D300 users is here;

    http://bit.ly/ieKWp8

    Reply
  11. Mike

    Such a great tip. Its so simple but a feature I never think to use on my camera. And I’m as guilty of changing shutter speeds (or more often apetures) during a studio shoot.
    Thanks!

    Reply

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