No CLS, very high sync speeds

Discussion in 'Beyond the Basics' started by JerryPH, Apr 1, 2009.

  1. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Something a little interesting that I was playing with today. Nikon users know (or should know) about high speed sync... this is where we can sync the flash with the shutter at speeds above 1/250th.

    The problem when using Nikon's version of it (CLS), is that distances are vastly diminished and you must use only Nikon flashes.

    Well, there is a way around this and a hack at the strobist club has been around for a while, but I never saw someone here discuss it and since I know not many here spend a lot of time there, I would like to share my findings of it.

    Tonight I was playing with a remote Nikon SB-600 and Vivitar 285HV at the maximum shutter speeds of my D700... 1/8000th and syncing the camera to these off camera remote flashes so easily it was almost anti-climactic.

    I tried doing this before with the Cactus V2s and it did not work well, but it works incredibly well with Pocket Wizard II's.

    How it works:
    - Basically you fool the camera into using FP High speed sync by being in manual, shutter or aperture priority mode. I played in full manual mode for my tests.

    - You place your SB-800 or SB-900 on camera. This is important and part of the key.

    - You have to use PWs. Cactus V2s are too slow. Others may or may not work, I have no way of testing.

    - Set your remote off camera flashes to full power. This is also important as the higher the power, the longer the flash duration. At full power, flash duration is a small amount longer than 1/8000th, at 1/2 power it has to be around 1/16000th or faster as all you see is a nice big black strip on the pic.

    - Next connect a sync cable to the remote flash by using a hotshoe and the other end to the FLASH connection of the PW. Make sure all PWs are on the same channel too, BTW.

    - Now, here is the main key... your 2nd PW is not connected to the sync connector of the camera, but the sync connector of the on camera flash! The other end goes into the Flash/Camera socket of the PW.

    - Turn on the PWs, flashes and set the on camera flash to Commander mode and set the on camera flash power to "--" which means it doesn't contribute anything to the exposure. You could also set the on camera flash to 1/128th power and rotate the head so that it points it in the opposite direction, again, not contributing to the exposure.

    - Set your shutter speed to whatever you want up to 1/8000th and your picture will be showing added light from the flash.

    I was able to easily peg 1/8000th shutter speeds and still get proper exposures through my softbox at 6 feet and more importantly, the light was always in sync with the camera I bet I could easily add 4-5 feet if I was bare flash, more if I used multiple flashes which is very viable. Nice!

    Here is not something that one normally sees, a flash synced at 1/8000th of a second wirelessly not using CLS:

    [​IMG]

    Supporting EXIF info:
    Flickr: More detail about HSS and flash

    Now, here is some good news... this will work with ANY flash, a studio strobe/head/monoblock or speedlight of any brand... any light source that can flash at 1/18000th of a second or longer and can be triggered by a PW. No longer are you limited to a Nikon battery powered flash only anymore.

    Another advantage is that because you are using Pocket Wizards, distance is not an issue... so you can be high speed syncing and be standing as far away from the lights that the PWs care to trigger the lights for you... which is pretty darn far... lol. A third advantage seems to be that you can squeeze more light or distance from light using this technique instead of CLS. A disadvantage of this method is that since it is not CLS, obviously there is no iTTL automatically metering things for you.

    This does not invalidate CLS, but it is a great additional tool to, again, add to the kit.
     
  2. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nice but doesn't this basically limit you to full power or half power of the flash?

    Mind you when you want to sync at 1/8000th chances are you want the full power anyway.

    This wouldn't work at slower speeds though would it? Like 1/600th, that would be outside the long flash duration, and outside the sync speed too.
     
  3. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yes, one is pretty much limited to full power only and you cannot go lower than that.

    I just think it is a nice tool to have if you want to capture and freeze something that moves fast on a bright day and have the camera be physically further away than what CLS would permit you to be.

    Let me see... maybe something like a skateboarder in the air and you could be using a 70-200 lens at 200mm and F/2.8 on a bright day. The bokeh would be incredible and the motion would be easily blur free, perfectly frozen and the scene would be nicely lit, perhaps from some creative angles.

    Honestly, it is not a very versatile tool, it basically lets you do 2 things:
    - use any shutter speed on most non-Nikon lights (as you know, shutter speed controls ambient light)

    - exceed the distance one can trigger remote lights over that what CLS could.
     
  4. Garbz

    Garbz No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Yeah. Actually if you take into account the movement of the shutter curtain you can do the old strobist trick. Trick the camera into thinking that there is no flash attached. Take a photo triggering the flash (as you successfully have). If the bottom half of the frame is dark and your subject is in the bottom, then turn the camera upside down :D

    I've been meaning to try this at somepoint. I imagine it would go really well when crosslighting a subject against the sun with a wide angle lens.
     
  5. JerryPH

    JerryPH No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    This may work on a Canon where they are close or sync is off a bit, but I tested out a drop from 1/1 to 1/2 and the frame was near 1/2 black. That may be because of the increase in flash speed with the SB-600 and at least for me, though 1/2 the frame was lit, losing about a 1/2 frame is a lot to lose.
     

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