High Speed Sync (continued)

High Speed Sync Part III

In my last post, I hinted that there are five ways to kill the ambient light. So far we’ve covered two of the five ways:

  1. High Speed Sync – Using your shutter speed to dial down the ambient light
  2. The Old Fashioned Way – Keeping your shutter at its Max Sync Speed and using the aperture to reduce ambient light.

Today I will discuss the third of the five potential ambient light killing techniques.

#3 – Electronic Shutter

One way to overcome the sync speed limitations of a mechanical shutter is to use a camera that employs an electronic shutter. I own such a camera, the amazing Canon G11. This little miracle camera is a flash photographers dream. It has a hot shoe and it works with my Pocketwizard remotes, but only in dumb trigger mode.

When you use a camera/trigger combo in dumb trigger mode, the only thing the trigger will do is fire the flash when you press the shutter button. There is no ETTL, no way to remotely change the power, and above all, no High Speed Sync.

Canon G11

Canon G11 - Photo Credit Canon Inc.

Fortunately, the absence of High Speed Sync is not really a limitation for the Canon G11 because it uses an electronic shutter. No physical shutter means that there is no first and second curtain to mess your flash up and  leave ugly “black bars” on your images. As such,  you are not limited to 1/200, it will pretty much sync at any speed, as in this image:

Electronic Shutter

ISO 80 | 1/1000 | f/3.2

Although it looks like I am in a dark room when I snapped this self portrait with my trusty G11, in reality the room was in direct sunlight and very brightly lit. Notice that I have cranked the shutter over to 1/1000, this helped kill the ambient and make it look like I own a fancy studio. As with the other photos in this series, I had to add light from my flash to bring my chiseled, manly features out of shadow.

In this case, however. The shutter speed of 1/1000 was not enough to turn the room completely dark. I had to use another technique, the fourth light killing option which I will discuss in a later post.

That’s it for today, if you are local to me and you have an interest in learning about photography and off-camera-lighting, come to one of my free workshops. Take a look at my meetup page, while you’re there you can look at the photos my workshop attendees posted from our outing on Saturday, I was pretty impressed with their photographs!

The Napa Photographer

Update: Part IV has been posted.

About The Napa Photographer

I am a Napa California area photographer specializing in portrait and wedding photography. I would describe my style as “environmental portraiture”, I like to shoot on location and try to seek out the most interesting backgrounds.

I am the organizer of a local Meetup.com group, I provide bi-weekly lighting and portrait workshops, you can find my group at:


My main photography site is: http://www.robertbakerphotography.com

I use a Canon 5D and about a dozen Canon 550EX’s triggered with Pocket Wizard Flex TT5′s.

Category(s): ambient light, exposure, gear, High Speed Sync, off-camera-flash, pocket wizard

4 Responses to High Speed Sync (continued)

  1. I just wanted to post a comment to let you know you have gotten another fan. I follow Phil Steele’s Steelevisions blog and read the post he had about you on there today. I checked out your site, then your blog, then went back to the beginning and read all your posts to date. I am loving these posts and look forward to continue following them. I use my flashes (I only have 2) off camera but I still struggle with it so much. Now I think I will check outs Phil’s off-camera-flash portrait course!

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