I often, of course, say this – “Limit: when using flash, you cannot exceed your camera’s fastest sync speed (usually 1/250th second)”.

And then almost as often, I hear the following objection:

“But Michael: you can use High Speed/Auto FP flash!”

And that way, you can exceed the sync speed. Sure – like in this photo of Aurèle Monfils of the Porcupine Photo Club, which I made yesterday with the standard sunny day blurred background setting (write it down!) of:

  • 100 ISO
  • f/4
  • 1/2000th sec

…using an on-camera flash fitted with a Honl 8″ Traveller 8 softbox:

Yes. You can, as you see!

But now I have a “but”.

The high-speed mode works by effectively making your flash into a continuous light, at least for the duration of the shutter speed; it flashes pulses at 40 kHz. Fine, but most of those pulses reach the closed part of the shutter, so most energy is wasted; hence, your effective range is reduced dramatically. Maybe just over a metre at 1/2000th second when using the flash without modifier; with a softbox as I was using here, maybe 30cm, no more.

Hence the slight “wide angle” look in my image above due to me having to be close, with a wide lens. As in this one of Aurèle’s daughter Lisa:

So while it is true that high speed/FP flash solves the sync speed problem, it’s  not a panacea, and in practice, it is only occasionally usable.

Footnote: Lisa is turned away from the sun: It is behind her, meaning she is not squinting, and the sun becomes the shampooey goodness™ light on her hair!


Want to learn to use modern Flash technique? I travel worldwide for hands-on seminars. Vegas, London, the Netherlands, Phoenix, Niagara, Toronto, or Timmins: wherever you want me, I’ll be there for you.

2 thoughts on “Bubutbut

  1. I’ve got a Fuji X Pro-1 (which I love) and while the top sync speed is 1/180 it will in fact go to 1/250. So you can exceed your camera’s maximum sync…as long as you have the right camera!

    • You can exceed it in all cameras – and you will lose some light at the bottom – the more you exceed it, the more you will lose at the bottom! And I love the Fujis too, ask my X100!

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