Elinchrom Quadra RX's and Sync Speeds - What's the story?
  • beeb
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    Elinchrom Quadra RX's and Sync Speeds - What's the story?

    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:11 am

    Hi folks,

    Kind of a basic question, but I want to get this clear in my mind before I look at spending any more dough.

    I have a couple of 580EX II's that I have used for a bit of a bodgy strobist set-up to shoot some Macro and Portraits shots. - However my ongoing gripe with these is that the sync speed is quite slow, 1/200th is a lot of time for the subject to move IMO, and often seems to leave hair and so-on looking blurry.

    Basically, my question is this - Is this purely to do with the sync speed of flashes, or is their an inherent delay needed by the camera to have the shutter fully open (5D Mk.II if it makes any difference...)? Or is it both?

    Basically I'm looking a getting one of Elinchrom's Quadra RX A-head kits, hoping that it'll give much faster sync speed (I know you don't get the rated 1/6000th unless you're using the low-output High-Speed outlet, but even 1/1000th or 1/2000th is A LOT better than 1/200th), and also a bit more power to use larger soft-boxes/modifiers and so-on would be handy...

    I suspect the Ranger RX, while nice, could be overkill for my needs, and am also wary of the weight as I do plan to use the unit outdoors and don't neccessarily want to lug the heavier Rangers through feilds and forest...

    In other words - HELP! I'm in need of a nudge in the right direction... :lol:
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    by JazzXP » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:39 am

    Basically it's a limitation of your camera. It's the fastest speed where neither the front or rear curtains are covering any part of the sensor. It's rarely an issue however as the flash speed effectively becomes your shutter speed for anything the flash hits (as long as the flash is the brightest source).

    Pocket Wizard let you use hyper sync to get around the 1/200 limitation, but you lose a LOT of power doing it.
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    by Busiboy » Wed Feb 29, 2012 7:57 am

    If you are struggling at 1/200th I think you need to consider technique more than a higher sync speed.

    Shooting portraits like that should provide more than reasonable results.
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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 8:38 am

    Busiboy wrote:If you are struggling at 1/200th I think you need to consider technique more than a higher sync speed.

    Shooting portraits like that should provide more than reasonable results.


    Could you give some suggestions if possible? The main problem I'm having as far as I can tell is subject motion from the long flash and shutter durations - and I'm not talking about a rapidly moving subject, just a person standing still. Things like long hair blur, and that's even if it's done in near-darkness where the flash is the main source of light.

    Portraits are not my thing though, just aiming to get into doing them a bit more, so if there's something I'm missing/doing incorrectly - or a base technique you could outline that'd be really helpful.

    Currently I've either been using one speedlight on camera for bounce or fill flash (when indoors), or generally for outdoors I have set the two lights up running off PocketWizard Plus II's, but they seem to really struggle for a decent spread of light, and even if a small soft-box is used they seem to struggle for power a lot... For the most part I'm wanting to mainly do outdoors stuff at dawn/dusk/blue-hour/etc... Some arty portraits or nudes with a bit of landscape or architecture going on in the background.

    It's been ages since I've done anything with them other than macro shots with the speedlights though, so it could quite feasibly be a technique error on my part.
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    by Big Pix » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:05 am

    can you post an image so we can see what you are getting..... also need to read the efix data of said image.....

    ..... use your flash as a set exposure and your camera can be changed for the available light. You seem to be flash filling your subject. There should be lots of your subject sharp from the flash exposure, a little hair movement can add mood

    The image would help as a guess at what you are doing is not an answer......
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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 9:18 am

    Big Pix wrote:can you post an image so we can see what you are getting..... also need to read the efix data of said image.....

    ..... use your flash as a set exposure and your camera can be changed for the available light. You seem to be flash filling your subject. There should be lots of your subject sharp from the flash exposure, a little hair movement can add mood

    The image would help as a guess at what you are doing is not an answer......


    I'll try to dig something up tonight...
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    by Busiboy » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:11 am

    For an idea, some people will shoot indoor basketball games with the gear you are using with adequate results, admittedly higher iso but the same shutter speed restrictions.

    Post a pic with the problem and the all important Exif, there must be something with your shutter speed going on, only explanation I can think of.
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    by heartyfisher » Wed Feb 29, 2012 11:42 am

    as others have stated flash synced 1/200 of a second should pretty much freeze any stationary object. however if there is movement in the subjects hair, then maybe you have set the flash/camera to use focal plane sync ie your flash pulses for the full 200th of a second which allows you to increase your shutter speed above 200th ( say 1000th) but also means that you are exposing for the full 200th of a second instead of the usual flash durations of about 1/10000 of a second

    :-) not what you want to see but check out my old photo with my old d70 flash sync at 1/8000, that is water splashing out of a tiny vase.
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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 12:46 pm

    heartyfisher wrote:as others have stated flash synced 1/200 of a second should pretty much freeze any stationary object. however if there is movement in the subjects hair, then maybe you have set the flash/camera to use focal plane sync ie your flash pulses for the full 200th of a second which allows you to increase your shutter speed above 200th ( say 1000th) but also means that you are exposing for the full 200th of a second instead of the usual flash durations of about 1/10000 of a second

    :-) not what you want to see but check out my old photo with my old d70 flash sync at 1/8000, that is water splashing out of a tiny vase....


    Nah, it's not set to FP, it'll get a big black band on the bottom of the image (relative to the camera) if I force it faster than 1/200th.

    I did wonder ealier that I may have it set to rear-curtain sync, but couldn't see how that'd be an issue. I'm beginning to think that ambient light may be the main issue I'm encountering - I'm probably leaving the apeture too wide and allowing ambient light to partially light the subject, creating the blur.

    When I was last attempting portraits I had zero experience working with flashes, so I may actually do a bit better if I have another go a it - though I think they will still be quite down on power for what I want to do outdoors in the long run. Still, might be best if I have another crack at it before I write off what I already own...

    Out of interest, how did you get your D70 to sync at 1/8000th? Was that the effective flash duration, or the exposure duration?

    Thanks for all the help so far too folks - 100% strobe newbie here... :lol:
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    by JazzXP » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:30 pm

    beeb wrote:...
    Out of interest, how did you get your D70 to sync at 1/8000th? Was that the effective flash duration, or the exposure duration?

    Thanks for all the help so far too folks - 100% strobe newbie here... :lol:

    The D70 had an electronic shutter (turned the sensor on and off), so with a bit of trickery on the flash contact points, you could have it shoot as fast as the camera would allow.
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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 1:37 pm

    JazzXP wrote:The D70 had an electronic shutter (turned the sensor on and off), so with a bit of trickery on the flash contact points, you could have it shoot as fast as the camera would allow.


    Ah, ok. Cheers... :)
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    by Busiboy » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:05 pm

    Image
    PB150325 by Ornate patesco, on Flickr


    Taken via cheap ebay flashes triggered via chinese triggers, not more than 1/250th

    Image
    P9108645 by Ornate patesco, on Flickr

    Taken without a flash at 1/50th from memory

    Its not your Flash ;)
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    by Dalzine » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:15 pm

    580exII flashes are capable of using High Speed Sync (>1/250). The downside is you have less power to play with.

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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:43 pm

    Ok, so the flashes have ample power and if the subject is still it's all good, just my understanding of the technique has been absent.

    However, given I also want to start taking some action shots (say sports stuff like BMX or skateboarding, or have the option to capture more dynamic portraits like a lady with her hair blowing freely in the wind) - unless I use one flash on-camera and High-Speed-Sync (HSS) mode, I can't shoot faster than 1/200th? And as I have (Non-TTL Transmitting) PocketWizard Plus II's I still can't shoot with off camera flashes at exposures faster than 1/200th then either can I?

    So, Given that I'm primary aim here is to be able to shoot faster than 1/200th with off-camera lighting - I'd most likely need to change to different wireless triggers (ie: Pocketwizard FlexTT5's which can control the flashes in either HSS or their "HyperSync" modes) to use the 580EX II's at a faster shutter speed, correct?

    However (and finally getting back to my original post here...) - if I'm hearing you guys correctly, if I was to change over to the Quadra RX's, I'd still need to shoot at 1/200th or longer and just let the short flash duration attempt to freeze the action, or is there some way I can make them work with a shorter exposure?

    To try to be clear - What I'm wanting to avoid is the "streaking" commonly seen with flash photography in fast moving subjects where the exposures are dragging somewhat such as shooting 1/200th or longer (because the subject is in motion, it appears to leave a streaky shadow behind where they appear when the flash "pops"...).

    Hopefully that makes some sense...
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    by beeb » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:49 pm

    Dalzine wrote:580exII flashes are capable of using High Speed Sync (>1/250). The downside is you have less power to play with.

    Dale.


    Cheers, I had just read that earlier - took me so long to write that last post yours came up in between though! :oops: :lol:

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