Taylor balancing at the Ponds 1/1000 F/5 with Elinchrom Hi-Sync

Taylor balancing at the Ponds 1/1000 F/5 with Elinchrom Hi-Sync

If you’ve been following my work over the years you’ll know I’ve been playing around with high speed flash sync for quite a while. If you haven't heard of it before HSS is a way to use flash with a shutter speed that is faster than the X-Sync speed of your camera. I first posted about it back in 2009 as I developed my own system with Nikon cameras and Pocket Wizard MulitMAX's that  was a little kludgy but fairly easy to do. This year however I switched 100% to shooting with Sony for my digital work, and High Speed Sync with my Nikon Pocket Wizard TT5’s just wasn’t going to work. I played around with my A7rii when I got it 2 years ago, and it didn’t take long to figure out that my old way of doing it using the Pocket Wizard MultiMAX's wouldn’t work with the Sony system either.

I’m a big fan of the Elinchrom Quadra flash system, it’s powerful enough for most things I shoot, and at lower power it has a very quick flash duration. It’s also very portable, which is important when you’re carrying gear. When Elinchrom announced the EL-Skyport Plus HS and the HS Head (HS for Hi-Sync) a while back I got pretty excited. With new camera toys there’s always a learning curve, and while I knew a lot about high speed sync with Nikon, I’d yet to use HSS with my Sony camera. The EL-Skyport Plus HS transmitter was new to me as well, so I took a bit of time and played around with it in the studio to make sure everything worked. After getting everything figured out in the studio the next step was to try it on an actual shoot. I had tried using it as a test on my Pennock Pass shoot, however on that shoot I had a huge shutter delay when I used it. The delay was probably happening in the studio as well, but as I was only testing the sync I hadn’t actually noticed. After I got back to the office a quick reset to factory settings and a firmware update on the Elinchrom transmitter fixed the issue, so I set out to test it again. I had planned to do a sunset shoot with my friend Taylor at Riverbend Ponds, and it was a perfect opportunity to make sure everything worked properly now that shutter delay issue was fixed.


Nate Adams shot with Elinchrom Hi-Sync

Shooting my friend balancing at sunset was great, but it didn’t do much to test the action stopping capabilities of Elinchrom's Hi-Sync. I needed to test the flash with a fast moving subject and see how it held up. I had another shoot planned with Nate Adams for Niner Bikes, so we took the Elinchrom Quadra kit along. It performed flawlessly, even better than my old Nikon kit with the Pocket Wizard transmitters. The main difference being that at full power the Quadra puts out 400WS, which is about 4 times as much light as a Nikon Speedlight, and if you take the time to adjust the ODS offset on the transmitter you can turn down the power on the Quadra and still get decent quality light. Hi-Sync requires a long flash duration and my version of it with the Nikon speedlights really struggled at anything less than full power. My only wish was that I had two Quadra packs, both with HS heads, so I could set up a two light set up. Until that happens I’m going to play around with using the Quadra to optically trigger my beat old Nikon SB800’s, but that’s another post.