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High Speed Sync for Flash

03.01.2008 Category: Photography
When I started using a digital entry level SLR camera I was shocked when my camera refused to use flash with higher shutter speeds than 1/200 sec. At first I thought there was something wrong with my camera. I went through the manual and online information and I found an answer that there is no high speed sync for flash in my camera (at least not with the built in flash). Previously I had been using Sony DSC-F828 bridge camera which could sync the flash with any shutter speed. I had taken the feature for granted. I had thought it was something found from every digital camera. I was accustomed to using flash as a fill light when photographing with high shutter speeds (1/500 – 1/2000 sec) in the hard sun light of the midday.

Since I started using a digital entry level SLR camera I have missed several shots because of the lack of high speed sync for flash. It’s a feature I value a lot and don’t want to live without. Now when I know better I wouldn't buy any camera without this feature. The feature is nice but it's not perfect. One important fact to know is that the power / range of the flash is often greatly decreased when using high sync speed. If you want to know more about the technical details of high speed sync for flash I recommend reading the following articles:

High Flash Sync Speed in Practice

I think that a situation where you really need a high sync speed for flash is photographing in bright sun light. Bright sun light creates very hard shadows that can be softened by using flash as a fill light. One often uses a high shutter speeds in bright sun light. In order to use flash with a high shutter speed one needs high speed sync for flash.

High Flash Sync Speed Example 1

Effect of flash as a fill light

Picture 1. Flash was used as a fill light to illuminate the girl in the foreground.

Picture 1 is a photo of Cathedral of Palma. It was taken in bright sunlight with a high shutter speed. The flash was used to illuminate the little girl in the foreground. Without the fill light of the flash the face of the little girl would be very dark.

High Flash Sync Speed Example 2

High sync speed lets you use flash with high shutter speed

Picture 2. High speed sync for flash is used to soften the hard shadows of the midday.

Picture 2 was taken in Turkey. It was taken in midday with a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. Because the light was very hard I used flash as a fill light to soften the shadows. In my opinion the quality of the photo was greatly increased because of the fill light.