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Why does my shutter speed not go over 1/200 when using flash?


23 Jul 2011 9:02PM
I'm just a novice photographer and know very little about the technical side of digital slr cameras so any advice will be greatly appreciated.
I have been trying to shoot a glass of water (dropped from a height) shattering on impact but i've been having problems attempting to use a fast shutter speed with a flash!
I know i need a fast shutter speed to freeze the shattering glass and good light so i used an on cam metz flash gun along with 3 cheap remote off cam strobe flashes, one placed either side of the point of impact and one directly above but the problem i'm having is the image always comes out blurred because i cant get the shutter speed faster than 1/200... unless i dont use a flash at all but then the image comes out way too dark even when i bump up the iso.
There is probably a simple reason why i'm having this problem, do cameras go above 1/200 when using a flash or is just the camera i'm using? i have a canon 550d t2i.
or maybe i just need more light and no flash at all?
My inspiration for trying this shot comes from the front cover of this months digital photo magazine, he used four off cam flashes (but did not say what shutter speed he used!) so i know it can be done!
Any advice to help me understand this problem will be very much appreciated.
Thanks
Rick

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indemnity 6 331
23 Jul 2011 9:18PM
The duration of the flash determines the 'freezing' effect of the image. Shorter the flash duration the sharper the effect. You will also need to reduce the ambient light as this will have an impact on the image. Shutter speed whether 1/125 or 1/160 will not make any difference, as the flash is exposing the image.
User_Removed 10 17.9k 8 Norway
23 Jul 2011 9:47PM

Quote:I have been trying to shoot a glass of water (dropped from a height) shattering on impact but i've been having problems attempting to use a fast shutter speed with a flash!


The answer lies with the your camera's ability to trigger the flashgun ABOVE the normally accepted maximum flash synchronisation speed(s) Rick - (typically 1/125th - 1/250th - 1/320th of a second)

It would help to know which camera you have as there are may 'variables' involved here. Smile

(e.g. my Nikon D300 will allow flash synchro up to 1/8000th with the canera set up correctly...)
Nick_w e2
7 3.9k 99 England
23 Jul 2011 9:53PM
Indemnity is right it's the flash duration that counts. The high speed sync Mike refers to really is for very bright situations (typically) with strobes the lower the power the shorter the flash duration.

So set a small aperture, say F16, then set shutter speed to ca 1/200 sec. Then get the exposure right with the flash.
Big Bri 13 15.6k United Kingdom
23 Jul 2011 9:56PM
Forget needing a fast shutter speed to freeze motion if you are using flash. The flash will not be firing for 1/200th of a second, it's just that the camera needs to hold the shutter open for that time to ensure that it catches the flash. The duration of the flash is far, far shorter.
As Mike said, other cameras can sync much quicker shutter speeds, depends on the quality (=cost) of the camera.
stomp 13 203 England
23 Jul 2011 10:27PM
with focal plane shutters used in SLR's the actual shutter is like two curtains. For speeds slower than 1/250 or whatever the sync speed of the camera is, the gap between the to curtains is wider than the sensor and therefore the whole sensor is exposed to the flash.

If you set a higher speed, say 1/500 the distance between the curtains is less than the width of the sensor and an open strip will travel across the sensor to make the exposure. But because the flash is a lot briefer than the strip takes for that strip to travel across the sensor only part of the sensor will be exposed to the sensor.

Higher sync flash is achieved either by multiple flashes of the flash as the strip crosses the sensor to expose the whole sensor or using lenses that have the shutter built into them, leaf shutters, as used in medium format cameras setop such as Bronicas & Hassleblads.

Better explained here and here

Steve
24 Jul 2011 11:29PM
Thanks for all your replies to my question, this has helped me a great deal Smile
Regards
Ricky.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
25 Jul 2011 12:35AM

Quote:As Mike said, other cameras can sync much quicker shutter speeds, depends on the quality (=cost) of the camera


I don`t know about that, I bought a camera costing 3.99 and the flash will sync at all shutter speeds Smile
StrayCat e2
10 15.0k 2 Canada
25 Jul 2011 6:27PM
The Nikon D70 is 1/500.
User_Removed 10 17.9k 8 Norway
25 Jul 2011 6:58PM

Quote:I don`t know about that, I bought a camera costing 3.99 and the flash will sync at all shutter speeds


Thanks Paul! Keep up - please!! Wink

With due deference to a couple of other posts above, shutter speed IS important - in certain circumstances.

As has (quite rightly) been stated, the typical SLR Focal Plane shutter needs to be open for the correct amount of the flash duration to capture the image fully. If not, the trailing blind will cut off part of the subject prematurely.

So... depending on the subject... the ability to be able to sych at speeds ABOVE the standard speed(s) CAN be important. Smile

Wink
stomp 13 203 England
25 Jul 2011 7:12PM
And then we can get into the subject of front or rear curtain syncSmileWink
Big Bri 13 15.6k United Kingdom
25 Jul 2011 7:14PM

Quote:I don`t know about that, I bought a camera costing 3.99 and the flash will sync at all shutter speeds

Thanks Paul! Keep up - please!! Wink

With due deference to a couple of other posts above, shutter speed IS important - in certain circumstances.

As has (quite rightly) been stated, the typical SLR Focal Plane shutter needs to be open for the correct amount of the flash duration to capture the image fully. If not, the trailing blind will cut off part of the subject prematurely.

So... depending on the subject... the ability to be able to sych at speeds ABOVE the standard speed(s) CAN be important. Smile

Wink



Keep up Mike. What was said was that having a shutter speed longer than you want to freeze the action (eg. you really want 1/1000th ) does not matter as much as having the shutter open at the point the flash fires.

I've had my shutter open for minutes at a time, and flashed things manually to freeze the action.
Paul Morgan e2
13 15.7k 6 England
25 Jul 2011 8:33PM

Quote:I've had my shutter open for minutes at a time, and flashed things manually to freeze the action


The techniques as old as the hills and still works well Smile
Chrism8 8 745 14 England
25 Jul 2011 8:48PM
Have a look here for an excellent tutorial on how to make it work, have followed this myself, not with anything like the results, but getting there ! Cheryl is well known for producing this type of shot on here.

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