Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Introduction about Flash Sync Speed

Brief Intro 

This blog is for photographer who are trying to use off-camera flash but not able to shoot at higher shutter speed .... why ????? ... Lets find out. 

Note: being a Nikonian, i am using Nikon camera D7100 and my SB900 flash for the demonstration of flash sync speed. But the theory will remain the same for other camera manufacturers.

What is flash sync speed? 

Answer is simple ..... Sync speed is the fastest shutter speed you can use with your flash. But before we jump into further detail we need to understand how shutter speed work. 

Shutter opening is basically composed of  2 curtains. They are just like curtains that we have in our home window & they open and close vertically (from left to right or vice versa). But flash curtain works horizontally like UPSIDE DOWN and they have a name " First/ Front Curtain" & "Second/Rear Curtain". 

When we press shutter release button ... say at the speed of 1/160 of second, the First/Front curtain "lift up" and expose the sensor to the light coming from the lens all the way. The camera wait by "1/160" of the second then "lift up" the Second/Rear Curtain to block the light to the sensor and then whole system "RESETS" by "lifting down" both curtain at the same time and ready to take another image. Note that while both curtain are coming down during the reset, both curtain are over lapping onto each other so there is not exposing over the sensor.

The same scenario happen when we use external off-camera flash. What additional thing happens is  when shutter opens by 1/160 of a second, the flash fires in between to expose the subject quickly before Second/Rear curtain closes. Thats where the term "Flash Sync Speed" comes into the picture. 

Every Camera manufacturer always mention camera flash sync speed in the camera data sheet which mean that camera will be "in synchronise" with the flash to certain flash speed which is in general maximum allowable upto 1/200 (for Nikon is 1/250 sec). So question is, what happens when we increase the shutter speed beyond 1/250 ?????? .... well ones we cross this threshold we will start having "black bar" into the image :) .... now whats that black bar really are ??? 

let see some example first.

I am using cheap "Phottix" radio trigger for illustration purpose who work perfectly fine by the camera flash sync speed range (not beyond that) 

Lets start shooting

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/160, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/250, 35mm

So far everything looks normal ... now watch what happens when we cross the camera sync speed of 1/250.

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/320, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/400, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/500, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/640, 35mm

So what exactly going on here ????? 

What happen actually is, as we go for higher shutter speed, in time domain, the duration in which shutter curtains suppose to open & close is getting less and less .... so flash light is not able to get time and power to expose the subject. 

As soon as First/Front curtain start opening for the flash exposure, the Second/Rear Curtain dont WAIT for the first/front curtain to be fully open and start closing the shutter opening right behind it so flash only see the portion of the image as the Second/Rear curtain is blocking it. So as much as higher shutter speed we go, the QUICKER the Second/Rear curtain closes and didn't gave a chance to flash to fire properly. 

So how we over come this problem. The solution is simple :) .... The good thing about Nikon is, you can adjust and over this problem by enabling the feature "High Speed Sync" ... that what they called NIKON CREATIVE LIGHT SYSTEM (CLS). Also note that not all Nikon camera can support this high speed sync feature. Only the following can support this high speed sync ...

1- Nikon D90
2- Nikon D300s
3- Nikon D7000
4- Nikon D7100

5- Nikon D700
6- Nikon D750
7- Nikon D800

8- Nikon D800E
9- Nikon D810

10- Nikon D4
11- Nikon D4s

Here how you will enable the high speed sync in Nikon D7100 ....

Go to menu then Bracketing/flash

From there go to "Flash Sync Speed" (menu E1)

By default, your camera was selected "1/250s" as mentioned below

All you need is to select one menu above of it which is "1/250 s (Auto FP)" .... (Auto FP stands for Focal Plane)

Thats it .... You are done. Now you can shoot using external flash upto 1/8000 of a shutter speed easily. Here are some examples ....

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/1000, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/2000, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/4000, 35mm

ISO: 200, f/1.8, 1/8000, 35mm

Now what exactly going on and how flash is NOW working by just enabling one menu inside the camera system.

What happening now is, as the shutter speed goes higher, instead of one big flash, the flash start sending small burst of multiple flash exposure one after another as soon First/Front curtain start opening from DOWN the frame towards UP.... so even is Second/Rear curtain follows quickly to close the exposure towards UP & try to block the flash, the flash already fired small burst from down all the way UP to expose the subject over the sensor along with the First/Front curtain.

But this is not the end, as you go with high shutter speed and trying to use the flash with it, you need to open up your aperture or use little higher ISO then usual because, as more higher speed you go, the flash fires small burst of light in between of the shutter curtains opening  but those small burst are not in much power as compared to one big fire in normal sync speed. The reason for low power is the limitation of the battery inside the flash and they can't quickly recycle to fire quickly those small burst of light. Thats why the new Nikon SB900 & SB910 have small connector at the flash front (below of the infrared sensor window) so we can connect external battery pack for "more juice".

If you look closely at image where i had an exposure at the shutter speed of 1/1000 of sec, it looks under expose because flash was firing small burst of light ... not one big burst. So i had to increase the flash power. Here how i increase the flash power as i increased the shutter speed,

Shutter Speed               Flash Power
1/1000                                 1/128
1/2000                                  1/64
1/4000                                  1/16
1/8000                                   1/4

So as you can see, you need to push more power through flash as you go to higher shutter speed to get the proper flash exposure. 

I hope above explanation will make you understand the Pro's and Cons of the flash sync speed. In Canon, i believe there is no built in system to go higher sync speed like Nikon so they need high speed sync trigger .... the cheapest and best i found is from Yongnuo model YN-622N (N stand for Nikon), its simple AWESOME. It not only support higher sync speed but also iTTL / eTTL function :). You really don't need expensive Pocket Wizard solution. The best thing about Yongnou high speed trigger is, you can put another SB700/900/910 in commander mode or SU-800 to trigger & adjust the power of the remote flash independently along with the support of group.

Enjoy learning .... Happy Clicking :)

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Monday, November 18, 2013

Expensive gears for better Photography ..... Really ?????

This blog are those enthusiast who wish to take great photo's but don't have enough budget to go for high-end equipment .... 

In my last blog (infect the first one ... ) i did mention about the those photographers who cries and often criticise other people work by claiming that they would have take better image if the would have DSLR with bla bla ... Yada Yada Yada ...... Well in terms of % ..... i agree 20% .... it is correct .... but still 80% is not correct ..... How ??? Lets move forward how :) .

You still can take better photos using from any device which can capture light and have ability to reproduce it over paper of digitally in term of 1's and 0's. So main question is ... Do we really need expensive gear ????

Allow me to share with you all one incident happened with me which made me believe that you really don't need expensive camera equipment to take better images. As i am Nikonian from day first, when Nikon D800 announced back in 2012 which is full frame camera with ultra, mega hyper 36 MP resolution which mean if i take portrait of your face using this camera, it can literally able to capture every single hair over your face in so much detail that probably even you have not seen it. Cut story short, i bought the camera and start enjoy it. After few month due to personal reason, i sold my Nikon D800 and went down to Nikon D3200 which was also announce in 2012 with very high 24MP resolution which no one was expecting in entry level DSLR. I had no other choice to stuck with D3200. Nikon D800 was the second best camera at per DXOMark ( bench marked with the score of 95 followed by Nikon D800E (sibling of D800 without Optical Low Pass Filter (OLPF) ) and the king as per DXOMark with the score of 96.

D3200 was way behind in compared to D800/D800E when it comes to ISO performance, mega pixel, dynamic range, faster shutter speed etc etc. But the only thing that i still have at that time was my passion towards Photography. I planned one photo shoot and requested one of my office friend to do modelling for me which he accepted after a long argument. I requested him to buy one "Hammer", "Helmet" & gloves which fortunately he did as he was all pumped up due to excitement of Photograpny. I provided him the safety jacket. Ones every thing was arranged, we went off-road some where in the middle of the new Fujairah highway. Sun was fast setting and we were running out of time. Cut story shot, i used 2 light setup using my simple flash, both in soft box over stand and i fired those 2 flashes using radio triggers. Though the lens i choose to shoot that shot is the best (Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8 ) but if you look at the shot setting (below) you have to agree with me on this that you can use any lens and can take such shot (e.g. 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6) .... Of course you need extra radio trigger and flash about which we will talk later over next upcoming blogs as Nikon D3200 built-in flash cannot work as the commander flash to fire remote flashes.

Here are the shot settings,

ISO: 400, f/18, 1/200, 24mm

So cut story short, as you can see .... i used entry level DSLR D3200 and able to secure a worth sharing shot with the help of flash light and cheap radio trigger.

Honestly speaking, i saw people stunning images using mobile phone camera (specially iPhone) and also with Point-and-Shoot camera and results were just awesome. Wasee ul Hasan is one of very passionate photographer who don't ever own a DSLR yet. He owns Point-and-Shoot camera which can take some really stunning macro shots. Take a look one of his sample image that he took using simple camera

Link to Wasee ul Hassan Shot

In the end, i like summarise my message like that ...... Don't stop your self due to unavailability of the equipment. If you cannot buy one ... then make one of your own.

How it is possible??? .... well for that you have to wait for the Next Blog :)

Happy Learning Guys !

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

This blog belongs to those who are seeking the key about how to take great images .....

To all fellow photographer who wish to improve their work .....

I am sure many are wondering and seeking how you guys will quickly learn photography and start taking stunning images .... well learning photography is not one day job .... and it depends on many thing ... Allow me to simply things for you which you have to consider while learning ...

1- People response over your images: .... Here is the deal, if 1000 viewers watching you image right now then expect 1000 or more response/critics from them ..... and most probably 90~95% will be -ve / with suggestions which will be very very hard to digest at the initial level. Thats where you guys needs to have strong feet to stand against all those -ve comments and have patience to digest them. Remember .... all precious metals and Gems were in carbon form before the "HEAT" of earth mould them into something precious ..... If there is no -ve then how you will recognise +ve :)

2- Learning from People not from Book: .... Learning from books will make walk in straight line as per rule but Book will not going to teach you "Thinking out of the box" ...... you need to create your own box .... and have to get out from it all by yourself :) . When you see more people work, your brain start adapting and moulding itself into different directions .... and thats where you need to decide in which direction you can excel. In my humble suggestion .... watching other photographer work's is the "BEST" source to learn. Question is how you will know which one is the best .... its very simple .... there are plenty of photography websites are available. / / etc etc ... the more you watch ... the more your eyes will get train and more you automatically learn rather then wondering how particular shot can be taken .... And yes .... don't waste your valuable time in asking question. Google it by yourself and seek help ONLY if your brain stop working literally. in 99% of times you can find all answers of your photography related question by just googling it ..... TRUST ME. 

3- Follow the RULES: ..... It is true that rules are made to follow. They are made to "regulate" photography and also your work. But ..... At the same time, some say rules are meant to be broken. But by breaking rules doesn't mean that you cannot take sun image with f/2.8 aperture .... or trying to take daylight images at 1000 ISO. You can do all this ..... condition provided if your image is holding itself pretty well against all these odd dialed EXIF values and "PLEASING" to viewer eyes at the same time ...... Yes ... images must be pleasing to the eye else you will be giving opportunity to the people to start finger pointing about your image starting from the WRONG EXIF values :) .... If you know what i mean :) 

3- Forget about Camera Gear: ..... I need one full frame camera with ultra mega super duper hyper mega pixel resolution & with lens that can capture planet MARS .... i often hear such kind of comments from beginners and some passionate photo. My question is very simple .... Will you able to drive formula 1 race car if you dont even know how to change the gear or at what speed you should turn the car at the corners? .... Remember the best camera is the one which you have .... Yes there are some practical limitations of crop body camera verses full frame camera but question is, Is your skill level worth having full frame bodies? Do you really know how to take sharp focus at f/1.4 in low light situation? ..... Know your machine first and practice as much as you can .... its not even worth a dime if you don't know what a full frame camera can do and you shooting it in AUTO MODE ..... and trust me there will be a time come when you will have enough practice using crop body cameras that full frame will be piece of cake for your guys when you switch to it .... but again ... practice practice and only practice .... I saw many photographer taking some really stunning images from crappy camera / Point & Shoot and cell phones .... i am sure all of us heard this ... ITS NOT THE MACHINE THATS MAKES THE DIFFERENCE .... ITS THE MAN BEHIND THE MACHINE .... in other words i am sure you really dont like to hear this comment from any one that ones you show them your a normal photo taken by a full frame camera ....  "Ghanta taswer layne aate nahe hay .... SHOW OFF Salaa ...." ... Dont invest on gear unless you learn how to use it and where to use it .... now many will say .... how we learn unless we buy them and try them ..... fine ... go for it .... but start from low .... don't jump high .... 

4- You ... Yourself is a brand: Dont get impress from other photographer .... what other photographer are doing may be your mind is not wired to do it. Some are crazy for black and white images (like myself) .... some only like to take city scape (like Danial K Choang) ..... some are king in Macro (like Omer Saddat) .... some are Portrait king (there is a long list of names in this category ..... majority takes only female portrait only :) ..... in short develop your OWN TASTE and then do practice as much as you can in that particular taste so the whole world knows you because of your that particular style :)

5- Give respect take respect : I dont have to explain in detail about this one :)

hope you guys will not find it boring ….

Happy Clicking ...

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