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I want to take photos of fast moving objects (shutter speed usually between 1/1000 and 1/2000 seconds), outdoors at night time (probably lit with flood lights, street lights etc), and I want to be able to take at least one photo a second for about 6 consecutive photos.

There are many problems with every camera and flash combination I have tried. A big one is "banding", because of the cameras maximum shutter sync speed. This happens at quicker shutter speeds because a mechanical shutter exposes the sensor from the top to bottom through a slit in the curtains, and the pulse of light is quicker than the movement of the shutter so only a portion of the sensor gets exposed to the flash. This could possibly be avoided with a camera with an electronic shutter, a camera with a really fast shutter sync speed, or a flash with a longer pulse duration, but I have yet to find any of these that work well enough. Another problem is that the flash is often not bright enough. If the flash is turned up to maximum power, then the recharge time is not quick enough and I miss shots, so I need a flash with very high energy storage. It needs to be able to take about 6 shots in quick succession, and then it can have time to recharge. It also needs to be able to be tethered to a computer (Without EyeFi as that is horribly unreliable).

I understand that these are very difficult requirements. I am asking for a camera and flash combination that is excellent at three different things, brightness, speed, and recycle time. However, I do have a large budget. I am willing to spend up to £2000 for the combination if it can do the job.

Does anybody have any suggestions? What should I use for outdoor night time, multiple shot, high speed flash photography?

Thanks!

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    What combinations have you already tried? – Harry Sanderson Sep 22 '15 at 17:02
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    What type of flash are we talking about? Speedlight? Studio strobe? – inkista Sep 22 '15 at 19:05
  • It would help if we knew what type/size of subjects you wish to capture in such a scenario and for what purpose: artistic, documentary, scientific, etc? How fast are they moving? In a specific direction or erratically? – Michael C Sep 23 '15 at 9:16
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    What are you trying to achieve with shutter speeds faster than max sync speed? With High Speed Sync, the flash has to blink several times and therefore exposing the frame takes more time than with a single strobe of light. You're also getting worse flash-to-ambient ratio, because you're wasting as much of flash as you're killing off ambient; meanwhile, the flash has to be weaker to recycle fast enough. – Imre Sep 23 '15 at 9:37
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The problem with depending on shutter speed to freeze the motion in your scenario is this: no matter how short the set shutter speed is, it still takes the same transit time for the slit between the two shutter curtains to transit from one side of the sensor to the other. During that 1/250 of a second or so the scene is still in flux. What you capture on one side or the bottom of the frame will have happened 1/250 second earlier than what you capture on the other side or top of the frame. This is further compounded by the types of lighting you are planning to shoot under. Flood lights and street lights are notorious for the amount of flicker they demonstrate between the high and low pulses in the alternating current that powers them. Not only is the intensity different, but the color also varies greatly every 1/100 to 1/120 second (depending on if the AC is 50Hz or 60Hz).

The classic solution is to shoot in a totally controllable light environment and use the duration of the flash to determine the length of the instant captured while the camera's shutter curtain remains fully open much longer. Even then, 1 fps for six consecutive frames is a tall order for the lower end of the equipment that can be used to do this.

If you are gong to do this be prepared to spend some serious money (hint: a lot more than £2K) on multiple, powerful flash systems that can be fired sequentially to provide the pulse for each frame from a different capacitor and light head.

  • I believe the 1 fps for 6s is attainable by lowering the power of the flash. This will shorten recycle time, and provide a shorter flash duration as well (if you want to freeze something really fast). The downside is, of course, less power. But you can compensate for this by using multiple flashes. You have to do the same thing for HSS anyway, as that also has reduced power output. – Robin Oct 16 '15 at 1:33
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Any Canon or Nikon at the mid to high range with the corresponding high-end flash from the same manufacturer should be able to be able to do this. I.e., a Canon 7D & 580EXII (or 600EX-RT). This might be outside your current price point as I don't know how much things are in £, I'm used to $CAD.

I am currently using the Canon 7DII with both those flashes and they both support high speed flash. Now for multiple flashes in rapid succession, I use rechargeable AA lithium ion batteries as the batteries tend to work at the same performance until they are dead and I need to recharge them. If it's needed for even quicker recharge time or long rapid succession flash, I suggest picking up an external battery that attaches to the flash to assist in recharge time on the capacitor that allows the flash to pop like it does.

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    Speedlite might not be powerful enough to shoot at high speed during the night. They also might not recycle quick enough especially for 6 consequence shots when on high power. Maybe you include other options for lighting in your answer? :) – Harry Sanderson Sep 23 '15 at 6:22
  • Also, lithium ion batteries and battery packs can hold dangers of overheating the flash. – inkista Sep 23 '15 at 16:15
  • @inkista i have never experienced that but maybe I wasn't making the flashes work hard enough with the Lithium Ion batteries. I have that issue with Nickel-Metal Hydride batteries. – thebtm Sep 23 '15 at 16:23

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