Last week, I had an interesting lunchtime conversation with a photographer acquaintance of mine. We mostly talked about photography business related topics, but at some point I mentioned the origins of this website. How it came to be, and why the geeky domain name, and some of the original pages on here.
One of the first articles I wrote, was this one on the advantages of having a higher maximum flash sync speed. It is an explanation of why the Nikon D70 had an advantage over the Canon 10D. (They were the two most popular D-SLRs at the time). The Nikon D70 has a maximum flash sync speed of 1/500th, but only went down to 200 ISO. The Canon 10D has a maximum flash sync speed of 1/250th, but went down to 100 ISO. There were huge debates on the photography forums whether the D70 had the advantage or not, since many argued that 1/500th @ 200 ISO is the same as 1/250th @ 100 ISO.
That webpage explains why the D70 would have a distinct advantage. In describing the gist of this to my friend, I realized that my explanation on that page could’ve been much simpler.
So here it is – the advantage of having a higher max flash sync speed – but explained in a way that is more concise …
If the Nikon D70 boasts a higher maximum flash sync speed of 1/500th, but only has a minimum of 200 ISO … as opposed to the Canon 10D offering a lower max sync speed of 1/250th, but with 100 ISO as its base ISO … then it might seem that 1/500 @ 200 ISO = 1/250 @ 100 ISO.
It would be that simple if we were only regarding available light. But we’re bringing flash into this equation. So while a change in ISO affects both ambient light and flash exposure, shutter speed only affects available light. And that is where the difference comes in.
Let’s assume a certain combination of settings for ambient exposure:
1/250 @ 100 ISO @ f5.6 (for the 10D), which is the same as:
1/500 @ 200 ISO @ f5.6 (for the D70)
But let’s change the 10D settings to:
1/250th @ 200 ISO @ f8 … which is still the same ambient exposure, compared to:
1/500th @ 200 ISO @ f5.6
But now, when we add flash, we need to add f8 worth of flash to the scene for the 10D, as opposed to only f5.6 worth of flash for the D70. So our flashguns have an easier time with the higher maximum flash sync speed in situations where we are shooting in bright light conditions.
If only I had explained it this succinctly originally.
As a side-note:
Many photographers are disappointed that their 5D bodies have a max flash sync speed of 1/200 and not 1/250 like most other D-SLRs. The reality is that this translates to only 1/3rd stop difference in flash exposure. It might make a difference, but not a huge one. Similarly, the Canon 1D mkIII and mkIV bodies have a max flash sync speed of 1/300 …. weeeell, that’s less than 1/3rd of a stop. Nothing to write home about. But the number 1/300 does does look good on paper.
Still, a higher maximum sync speed is always a bonus.
Also check out the page explaining why something like maximum flash sync speed exists, and why it is often a sweet spot for us when we use flash.
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If you find these articles interesting and of value, then you can help by
using these affiliate links to order equipment & other goodies. Thank you!