Terms to Know: Sync Speed

Knowing certain photography terms is essential for understanding some of the technical components of this workshop. Let’s start with sync speed.

The sync speed is the fastest shutter speed that is recommended for your camera when working with a flash of any kind.

Knowing your camera’s sync speed is essential when working with strobes. If you set your shutter speed higher than your camera’s sync speed you are going to end up with a nasty looking shadow on your image (shown in the picture below), and nobody wants that!

Oooops!  Forgot to check the sync speed on this one!

You can find your camera’s sync speed in your camera’s manual or online.

To make things easy, I’ve made a list of popular cameras and their sync speeds:

• Contax 645 1/60

• Pentax 645 1/60

• Pentax 67 1/30

• Mamiya 645 1/60

• Hasseblad 501/503 up to 1/500

• Hasselblad H1/H2 up to 1/800

• Rolleiflex 2.8 and 3.5 up to 1/500

• Canon Elan 7 1/125

• Pentax k1000 1/60

• Nikon F3 1/80

I know that you are looking at these shutter speeds and thinking “What?! 1/60?! I can’t shoot a toddler at 1/60!” But trust me, you can.

Shooting with a strobe at 1/60 is not the same as shooting with natural light at 1/60. The flash from the strobe will freeze the motion, just like a flash does when shooting people dancing at a wedding.

Cameras that have a leaf shutter (a shutter that is located in the lens or right behind the lens rather than in the camera body) like the Hasselblad or Rolleiflex have much more flexibility in sync speeds, however I shoot my Hasselblad at 1/60 all the time because it works so well.

This image of the little girls jumping on the bed was shot with one strobe and my Contax at F4 1/60. 

The strobe froze the movement, resulting in a fun image that is full of movement (and joy).


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