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I understand that both can allow for bigger apertures to be used in bright daylight but I am a little confused about the pros and cons. Will high speed sync lower your flash output more compared to putting a ND filter over it?

Which is preferred for portraits in bright sunlight?

  • If light is really too bright, you'll want to use a filter to diminish it globally. The flash (and lamps/reflectors) will then be able to allow you to highlight the desired features of the scene to make them "stand out", without over-brightening it. – Olivier Dulac Feb 3 '14 at 15:45
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A lot depends on the flash system in question and exactly what shutter speed you are shooting due to the ambient light. With most HSS flash systems, the shorter the Tv, the more power you loose. So, purely theoretically, 1/1000 second may be more efficient to use HSS. If you need 1/8000 second to control the sun unfiltered, it might be more efficient to use an ND filter to allow the flash at full power at sync speed. In the end it is really more about the relative brightness of the ambient and the flash than anything else. The preferred method is to use reflectors to redirect the ambient in addition to using the flash, to add more flash power, or both.

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