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Using High-Speed Sync Feature of Godex/Newer Flash Triggers

Published: 26/01/2016

Walt Example 1

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This is a guest post by Walt Simpson of Orlando, Florida.

Recently I discovered a technique using some new triggers. I currently shoot with a Nikon D800 and use the Godox/Neewer TT850 Flashes and ST-16s transmitter/receivers. Neewer TT850 *LI-ION BATTERY* Flash Speedlite with FT-16S Wireless Flash Triggers And LI-ION BATTERY Car Charger.

This is a great system because you can remotely control the flash level of your individual flashes from the camera. I typically use 4 flashes and if I have one perched on a second-floor balcony or in a distant room it is extremely efficient at reducing walking back and forth to adjust the flash strength. This also has a GREAT battery system. No more AA’s and constant recharging. Battery life on these LI batteries at least 4 times better than I get with AA's in my SB-800s.

Recently I saw an ad for a new ITTL trigger from Godox/Neewer that worked in conjunction with these flashes and supported high-speed sync. This is the new trigger that I bought.

Walt Example 2 I was pleasantly surprised at how well this worked out. I recently shot a couple of properties that I was stuck at the 250 sync speed limit. I popped on the new trigger and set my flashes to HSS. I have included 2 examples showing the results.

The first was a small kitchen with an ocean view. Obviously, the view was critical to this shot. I was able to set my camera shutter to 1/3200 and the sync worked fine with no black bars in the image. The second shot of the pool through the sliders was shot at 1/800. This allowed me to not blow out the windows and curtain shears.

The limitation with this setup is that with the new Cells II trigger I lose the capability to adjust the flash level of the remote triggers. Small price to pay.

Larry Lohrman

13 comments on “Using High-Speed Sync Feature of Godex/Newer Flash Triggers”

  1. FYI, You don't need special triggers to make this work. Nikon has had the ability to sync with speedlights at higher than 250 sec. since the D300 (at least). You just go to custom settings/bracketing and flash/flash sync speed and change it to 1/320 s (Auto FP). This will then sync your Nikon up to 5000s with your speedlights. This ONLY works with speedlights, though. I have my D300 set to this all the time and it functions very well.

  2. This is a bit like chasing a mirage.

    The sync speed is a function of the shutter mechanism on the camera. "HSS" works when a speedlight is in the hotshoe of a camera (very bad idea for interiors work) and the camera can control it directly. Some triggers have the ability to carry this info as well although I'm not conversant with which ones.

    HSS is of very limited use for interiors. For every stop of shutter speed you gain, you lose a stop of flash power (see below). Given the already relatively weak output of a speedlight, this makes lighting a large room problematic, at best. Examples like the ones above are deceptive: a small white kitchen lit from directly behind the camera, and a small(ish) bright living room with abundant direct sunlight are NOT the typically difficult situations where one might wish for high speed sync.

    In high speed sync, the camera gets around the physical limitations of the shutter mechanism by causing the flash to fire twice (or more) during the exposure. As the shutter curtains sweep past the sensor, creating a "slot" for the light to pass through, the flash fires once for the top of the sensor, then again as the "slot" passes the bottom of the sensor. Faster shutter speeds mean the shutter curtains are even closer together, requiring even more "pops" of the flash to strike the entire sensor.
    The flash isn't capable of maintaining it's power level when firing so quickly (e.g., several "pops" during a 1/1000th interval), so it has to drop it's output. You can experiment with this by just holding the flash in your hand and seeing how many "pops" you can manually fire with the test button before the flash refuses to continue. At full power, it's one. At 1/2 power it's Two. At 1/4 power it's Four, etc.
    This means that the flash is automatically "powering down" to a level that allows it to sustain the necessary number of rapid bursts according to the shutter speed that's been chosen. Typically, if we're maxing out our shutter speed, we're also maxing out our flashes (or nearly so) -- so going to High Speed Sync quickly becomes an exercise in futility as the flash is continually lowering its output even as we are trying to get more out of it.

    It sounds like a great idea until you realize you're trying to light a room at 1/16th power, when you've effectively eliminated the ambient component with your 1/500th shutter speed. It can work for portraits, when your lights are only a couple of feet away from the subject, but not so much for interiors work when you're lighting furniture that's 15 or 20 feet away. The Law of Inverse Square will kick your butt, every time.

    Far better to:
    A) don't under-expose the views. In the examples above, what should be light, airy rooms actually feel small and heavy because the views are too dark, and the lighting is so harsh. (Walt, I know these are just examples you shot to illustrate the tech you're experimenting with).
    B) Don't try to do everything with just one light. Even a very powerful light is less useful than several smaller lights. If you are using an automated system like Nikon CLS, it's technically possible to have several (as in, 8 or 10 or more) speedlights all High-Speed-Syncing together so that you end up with enough light to get the job done (8 speedlights all firing at 1/8th power = 1 speedlight firing at Full Power). But at that point, why not just up the aperture, and use 4 lights at 1/4 power? Etc.

  3. Same system I use, but... Quality control need work. Those batteries failed at a very high rate the last few years. I had 7 of those batteries fail on me. It isn't that the cells are bad, it that the charger suspects the Lithium cells are not being charged equally, so the charger refuses to charge them, and there isn't a fix for that.

    I have 4 850's that have all worked great, but I did have an 860 unit fail on me.

    In any case, if you go with these, make sure you bring a back up. They are the best thing ever until they go on the fritz.

  4. You can achieve the exact same result by the inplematation of ND filters if your goal is to cut down light. Since focusing with Live view is so easy and buildings don't move its a much simpler solution.

    Hss is kind of a gimmick. It has a few uses I have found, but mostly examples across the web are misleading and marketing ploys to get people to believe it's free light. To mirror Scotts point, even my 500watt profoto B1's become pretty powerless in HSS uses. In a pinch you can squeeze some use out of it but only when the subject is very close to the lights.

  5. Michael, First of all the HSS built into Nikons ONLY works with speedlights, it says so right in the manual. Last time I checked Profotos weren't speedlights so your points not valid. It is quite valuable if you do sports groups/individuals shot outdoors to get the light to balance as a fill light. Probably isn't that valuable to do interiors.

  6. Larry Fields, the Profoto B1 and B2 flashes will do TTL metering and high-speed sync with Canon or Nikon Cameras when used with Profoto's own Air Remote transceivers (in Canon and Nikon versions).

  7. I would personally rather close down the aperture so I can still use my speedlights at full strength. Win-win because then I also get better DoF than using HSS to cut down ambient.

    But it is nice to see an affordable trigger system like that. I feel your pain regarding running up & down stairs to adjust output on a remote flash. 🙂

  8. I do not use HSS for the reasons noted above. I do like smaller apertures so longer exposures and moderate flash is where I live.

    As for the Godox/Neewer flashes I have been sold on them for some time. Solid reliable products for me. Also have the AD-360s for larger spaces and longer ranges. The real joy of this brand are the triggers that have great range and reliability with the huge bonus that they use no batteries in the receivers.

  9. As a relative newcomer to this site and the fantastic field of real estate photography, I was recently considering the HSS approach. In theory, it seemed plausible. Scott Hargis's excellent and understandable explanation made me understand that it is not the best approach. This site, thanks to Larry, is such a great source of valuable information.

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