More Hypersync Shenanigans
After my success at the bike park I decided to retry my fish tank high speed water shoot, this time using only my Mettle 600w/s strobe and my Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 programed for maximum Hyper Sync through the Pocket Wizard Utility…… What was produced did nothing but utterly stun and shock me, for a setup that took one light a $12 fish tank from Walmart and a plain white backerboard and about 5 minutes to set up and find random things around the house to drop in.
Lets start with my camera I used my Canon 7D with a sigma 70-200 f/2.8 lens (having the macro version of this lens was instrumental) and a remote so I could drop and trigger from a distance.
Next I had my new Mettle 600w/s mono light strobe. Using a studio style strobe is completely new to me, for years I always just used my canon 430ex off camera with a standard $20 cowboy studio trigger. However one day a few weeks back I decided to have a lazy day on my couch and start diving into learning more about off camera flash photography and particularily using strobes. I found this monolight within about 10 minutes on amazon and I was immediately hooked by the fact that it was a 600w/s (fairly powerful) and it came with a portable battery pack all for $350……. A price that intrigued me the most given the fact that most portable units I have seen range anywhere from $1,500 to $12,000 a price that I was not willing to risk on my first dive into using strobes.
So it got me wondering what makes this one so inexpensive and what makes the other units better besides just the price. In my research I found out a lot concerning this mode called highspeed sync which is used for speedlights as well as why it is needed something I will discuss later. Back to the strobes they deal with something called flash duration to overcome the need for fast sync speeds to freeze motion. Some of the fastest heads and packs nowadays have a flash duration as quick as 1/25,000th of a second….. Sweet too bad nobody in there right mind or budget can afford those so how did the Mettle stack up? When on its lowest power setting I could get a flash duration of 1/1500 and on its highest 1/800….. Perfect that’s not the slowest out there and the price was still amazing…… SOLD.
Next came how to trigger it. (hang in there I know my brain hurts too)
I discovered a while back that if I pushed my camera past 1/250th of a shutter with the flash off camera there would be this distinct line across the image I never took the time to find out why that was I just took to the rule that I couldn’t go above 1/250th of a second on my shutter fine for portrait photography but not so good for sports.
Finding out about high speed sync and it being a function that was already built into my 430ex was like rediscovering photography my mind expanded with all these grandeur ideas of amazing high speed photography with controllable lighting with all the sports I love to shoot……. But as with all promising with photography there is always a catch and with the idea of high speed sync and generic speed light type flashes it is power….. The short version of hours of research to understand this concept, is that the shutter curtains that limit the use of one powerful flash and cause banding past 1/250th of a second mean that the speedlight has to fire many burst of light as the curtains travel across the sensor, firing many bursts instead of one powerful one like in normal ETTL mode means less power per flash and ultimately more power consumed per flash……..
Ok so my speedlight was out I want something with a ton of power that will allow me to use epic shutter speeds and stop action like I normally do with my camera (why I bought the Mettle)……. Only wait there is a problem when you remove the flash from the camera you have to have a way to trigger it ok…. great more stuff to read about….. Once again the short version of my now days of research there are 3 ways to trigger a strobe or flash. A PC cable attached to the camera is the most reliable a hard-wire of sorts…… Phew so I had a failsafe with my new strobe as it comes with a PC to phono cable but as with most wifi loving tech geeks I hate being wired to something so I continued my research. Another way to trigger a strobe off camera is by using my speedlight as a trigger. Basically when my speedlight fires a photocell on top of the strobe picks up the light and decides to trigger itself…… SWEET now I have two options and the Mettle that I sorta jumped the gun on has a built in cell that allows it to be triggered PHEW…… Now comes the next problem (yes I was exhausted and frustrated at this point and my brain hurt a lot)…. I still can’t highspeed sync the strobe from a distance and shooting in the bright sun (which is all I do) is proven to be problematic.
The final way to trigger flashes off camera is using a radio trigger I immediately turned to Pocket Wizard as every professional shoot I had ever been apart of had tons of these in use. Radio triggers use you guessed it Radio signals, to transmit the trigger of a flash, using radio signals means it is not affected by the sun or even objects obstructing line of site from the transmitter to the receiving unit. Ok so I want a couple of these which one do I get.
Reading about each unit I discovered the options each one had to offer but the one that caught my eye and ultimately was what I decided to purchase were the PW Mini TT1 Transmitter and the Flex TT5 Transceiver, these were the only units that offered the ability to transmit ETTL data. I found out very quickly what this meant it meant I was no longer bonded to having my speedlight be on camera in order to use its ETTL functions like high speed sync (see were coming full circle). My initial thought was I would put the speedlight right next to my strobe’s photocell sensor and use high speed sync to trigger the flash and then the strobe still hoping that I could somehow cheat the system and push my new strobe beyond its flash duration and syncing limitations……..
A little more research (and another few hours well spent) led me to find the holy grail of solutions HYPERSYNC…… Once again my child like attention span was immediately grabbed by the word Hyper (a clever pocketwizard marketing ploy I’m sure) little did I know how this simple feature would change my photography forever.
The Pocket Wizard TT1 and TT5 have the ability to plug into a computer and using the free downloaded Pocket Wizard Utility you can update firmware and adjust settings with the units such as sending and receiving channels…. ANDDDDD I’m SOLD.
I immediately ran out and purchased the units along with a sync cable for my strobe….. waiting for my strobe to be delivered I read up on how hypersync works rather then type it you can go here and read about it yourself. Basically from my understanding you can adjust the timing of hypersync based on your particular model of strobe or manual flash…… The results being able to push the sync ability of your flash to well beyond 1/250th of second!?!?!?!?!
I was like a gitty school girl waiting for my strobe to be delivered I practically tackled the mailman and ripped the box open like it was Christmas morning. I set the strobe up on a light stand and plugged it in after accidentally discovering how powerful a 600w strobe is by firing it full power in my face I knew I was in the right direction for photographic glory. Pulling out my shiny new Pocket Wizards I plugged them into my computer opening the PW utility I immediately jumped to the Hypersync/HSS tab I read that this takes some trial and error but all I had to do was adjust the P2 Hypersync/Flash Duration option to get the best results out of my strobe….. Everything I had read led people to results as high as 1/8000th of a second (as fast as my 7D will go) but that the typical sync speed is lower somewhere around 1/800 to 1/3200. I didn’t care because anything was faster then 1/250. After plugging it in and out of my laptop adjusting the speed then back on the camera and taking some test shots to see how high of a shutter I could attain before the dreaded black bar appeared I was astonished that with my set up I could get the Maximum sync speed of 1/8000th of a second even at my strobe’s full power…..
The heavens lifted angels and choirs began to sing I sat back in my chair struggling to understand what this meant for my photography…… I settled on the idea that for an investment of around $800 I had a set up that could play with the big boys I had a super powerful strobe that could be transmitted from extreme distances and the ability to sync that strobe at its full power setting up to 1/8000 of a second shutter speed…… I gotta see what this baby can do.
A quick trip to Valmont bike park the next day led me to my last Post but I was hungry I wanted more I wanted to see exactly what this baby could do.
This ladies and gentlemen is what this setup can do……..
Most of these photos were taken at ISO 100 f/13 and a shutter of 1/8000 oh and did I mention I was only at about 1/2 power on my strobe……..
Here is my setup….. Super Simple one light one camera and my pocket wizard units.
And here is the GLORY…… Enjoy If you have any questions please feel free to comment below. I’m looking forward to keep pushing the limitations of my PW units and my 7D.
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