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Types Of Flash Synchronization

There are basically three different modes of synchronisation options between the camera and the flash unit, they are X sync, M sync and Fp sync. Before the advent of digital photography there was a time ruled by the film and flasbulbs. Different types of flashbulbs had different time duration from start of ignition to moment of peak output, hence different synchronization settings in earlier cameras. Let us have a look at these Sync modes although we do not come across some of them often in modern day photography.

Types Of Flash Synchronization
Types Of Flash Synchronization

X Sync

The alphabet X in X sync stands for Xenon and it is the setting to be used with the modern day electronic flash units. In case of some manual cameras, the X sync speed refers to the maximum speed that the camera can synchronize with the flash. When set to X sync mode the flash burst coincides exactly with the full opening of the camera shutter. When you press the shutter release, both flash and shutter is triggered simultaneously. This is made possible because the xenon flash units respond instantly. This is the default sync mode of modern digital cameras.

M Sync

M sync was a sync mode available with some old generation film cameras. This mode was specifically designed to be used with medium speed flash bulbs. Such flash bulbs have a small delay time, from the moment to ignition to their peak output. Say a flash bulb takes 1/30 of a second to reach peak output, so ideally the shutter needs to be opened 1/30 th of a second later than the firing of the flash. M sync mode does just that, it makes it possible to time the flash trigger in such a way so as the opening of the shutter coincides with the peak output of the flash bulb.

FP Sync

FP sync refers to Focal plane high-speed sync. We discussed about Focal Plane Shutters in a previous article. And we also discussed about Flash Synchronization, the maximum shutter speed that can be used with a flash. In the earlier days of photography FP sync was achieved by the use of slow burning flash bulbs. These bulbs took longer to burn out and produced even light over the duration it burns. Thus it was possible to extend the light duration to make sure to have the frame lit until the travelling shutters complete its journey. But this is not an option with modern day flash units. It is not possible for electronic flash units to produce light over extended periods. Instead modern flash units when set to FP sync mode gives a strobed output (rapid short bursts) illuminating the entire frame.Since FP sync mode is very relevant in practical photography and has many creative uses we will discuss it in detail in the next article - Focal plane high-speed sync or FP sync

In the next article we will discuss about Photography - Lighting - Flash - High Speed Flash Synchronization

Related Reading

  1. Flash Synchronization
  2. Flash Guide Number
  3. Flash Bulb
  4. Flash
  5. Continuous Light

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