Flash Sync Speed in the Studio: Take and Make Great Photography with Gavin Hoey


In this video I’ll take a look at flash sync speed… what it is why you should use it, and when it might not be the best choice. Hello I’m Gavin Hoey, and you’re watching AdoramaTV, brought to you by Adorama… the camera store that’s got everything for us photographers, and in this video I’m gonna have a look at how shutter speed can affect your images when you’re shooting with flash in a small home studio.. Now one of the things I’ve noticed with the more modern flash point transmitters is try as I might I can’t get it over two hundred and fiftieth of a second shutter speed. I can have anything up to that but nothing beyond it, and that’s because the trigger is actually helping me, it’s limiting my camera to its flash sync speed. What does flash sync speed mean? Well for that I need to look at the mechanics inside of a camera, where I’ll find a curtain that covers a sensor, press the shutter that moves out the way exposing the sensor to light, and at the end of the shutter time a second curtain covers it up once again.. Now in reality it’s a bit more complicated than that, but that’s basically what happens and my flash sync speed is just the fastest shutter speed where the whole sensor is exposed, as the flash fires go beyond the flash sync speed, and the curtains would cover up part of the sensor when the flash fires…. meaning I’d have a shadow or part of the picture missing. So if I can choose any shutter speed up to two 250th of a second on my Olympus camera, yourl mileage may vary.. Which one would I go for? And it’s a really good question, and the only way to answer that is… to take some test pictures.. so I’m gonna set up two different scenarios… let’s get some light, set let’s get a model in, let’s get shooting… so to help me out today, I’ve got the amazing Sophie. Sophie is gonna be the model for this shoot, and before I take any pictures with flash I’m actually going to take some pictures without flash. To understand what goes on with flash sync speed and your camera. you need to take a few pictures to work out what happens at different shutter speeds. So to make this work I need to be in manual mode that means I can choose an ISO and aperture and of course most importantly the shutter speed. So I’m going to start with a shutter speed that isn’t normal in a studio… a quarter of a second, and then I’ll increase it up to my flash sync speed, and check the results.. let’s have a little look so no flash fire whatsoever, after quarter of a second f/5.6, ISO 200… by chance, the results are almost the correct exposure for the ambient light in the room. now if I take my shutter speed up to a 15th of a second… that’s two stops less light, and take the same picture Sophie is there but it is starting to get a little bit dark… two more stops adjustment will take me up to a 1/60 of a second, and Sophie is starting to disappear, and at my flash sync speed of 1/250/th of a second Sophie has completely gone, and actually that’s exactly what I’m trying to achieve… I’m really using the shutter speed just to underexpose the ambient lights. get that really dark picture because the flash, is way brighter than any room light you can have, which means the camera will now only record the flash ,and gives us an exposure that I’ve got total control over… so basically when it comes to your flash sync speed, just set it the highest you can in your small home studio, and everything will be fine job done… sort of… so there may be times when the flash sync speed isn’t the correct speed to use, so maybe you want to include some of the room in your shot or maybe you have an amazing setup.. a little bit like we’ve got here with these glowing jars of LED lights. Now if I was to use the same flash sync speed as I used before… things might not go the way I like. I’ve already set the flash, I’ve set the exposure correctly, let’s just take a test picture at the flash sync speed.. see what we get. So at the flash sync speed… Sophie is correctly exposed…. the jars are there, but the LEDs don’t really look like they’re glowing. If I increase my exposure by two stops the shutter speed gets a little bit longer, which means there’s more time to record the LEDs which look slightly brighter, but the exposure on Sophie from the flash still looks exactly the same… increase my exposure by another two stops the LEDs appear even brighter, but Sophie remains the same, and finally at a quarter of a second, my longest shutter speed…. the LEDs are really bright, lots of time to record them… and yet Sophie the flash exposure on her still remains the same. So this time you might think the correct shutter speed is actually the longest shutter speed. It seems to make the LEDs bright, but doesn’t seem to affect the exposure on Sophie… but if you do that, you run into a couple of problems. Yuu might get camera shake.. or motion blur where Sophie moves even a little tiny bit, and that can ruin the photos… so to avoid any blur I’m gonna go with a shutter speed over 1/60th of a second but I still want those brighter LEDs… so I’m gonna change my other settings, I’m gonna go with an aperture of f/1.2 – so much wider than it was before, and a slightly higher ISO at 400. Let’s have a look at this result… so the jars look bright, I like that, but so does Sophie, and that’s because ISO and aperture will affect not only the ambient light, but the flash that’s recorded as well. So to adjust that I simply need to dial my flash power down, take the same shot again, and that looks perfect on Sophie, because ISO and aperture affect ambient and flash, but shutter speed only affects the ambient light that’s recorded. The reason that flash isn’t affected by shutter speed is all down to its super short duration… I mean the whole thing starts and ends in thousandths of a second… it easily fits in the window of opportunity that is our mechanical shutter, the flash sync speed so that’s a technical bit out the way… let’s do something a bit more fun and actually take some pictures in this lighting…. so Sophie are you ready okay. let’s do it. The vast majority of the photos I take in my small home studio have a shutter speed that is the flash sync speed… but it’s really good to know what circumstances you might need to change that… now if you’re sitting there thinking what about high-speed sync… well that’s the subject for another video… if you’ve enjoyed this video or you’ve got a question leave me a comment below. Click on the bell icon to get regular notifications of all the new videos right here on AdoramaTV… and of course click on that subscribe button! I’m Gavin Hoey thanks for watching.

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