Most flashes fire at about 1/1000 sec, and can usually not be properly fired faster than the red number on the speed dial (my case being 1/60). Using the flash higher than that red number will result in badly exposed photos.

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Some cameras go to 1/125, I've seen some max out at around 1/240 or 1/250. However is there a flash that I can use with up to 1/1000? Flash bulbs would emit long enough that they could be used at about any shutter speed, but I hear those have a one time use and I would not be looking forward to find vintage bulbs or spend money every time I use flash.

Is there an electronic flash that I can connect to my camera's FP sync port and be able to use at around any shutter speed?


That camera with 1/60 sync (and says ASA) must be at least 40 years old. :) More modern cameras commonly allow 1/200 second shutter with flash.

But this limitation (of not allowing flash with 1/1000 second shutter) is due to the type of shutter in the camera. It is not a property of the flash, electronic or bulb. It is a property of the camera shutter.

Focal plane shutters back in the 1960s were 1/60 second sync, but the focal plane shutters have gotten faster now, 1/200 second sync is common.

There is (or was) a FP sync flash bulb, called FP sync (for Focal Plane), which is a longer burning bulb, which allows any faster shutter speed. The issue is that when faster than sync speed, the focal plane shutter becomes a narrow slit moving across the film. At speeds less than sync speed, the shutter is fully open, which allows flash, even very fast flash. But at faster shutter speeds, it is just a narrow moving slit which is all that gets illuminated by the fast flash. Shutter speed is too fast to sync with flash.

The longer burning flashbulb allows any narrow slit to move, to occur at any point of the slit travel (the longer burning bulb will still be burning there). The faster shutter speed slit does of course seriously reduce the light, you have to open aperture to compensate for the lost exposure time.

In electronic flashes, there is a flash mode called High Speed Sync (HSS), which mimics the longer burning FP sync bulbs, to allow any fast shutter speed. The HSS flash "burns continuously" for the entire shutter slit travel time. It is NOT fast flash, the opposite, continuous like daylight, it cannot stop any motion. But it is High Speed Sync, meaning it does allow any fast shutter speed. Both the camera and the flash have to support HSS, and must be compatible with each other too.

  • You explained it well, I am aware about how slower and faster shutter speeds affect the image, but because flash bulbs burn for a long time, they can be used at about any shutter speed (after adjusting aperture to compensate for light gain or loss of course). Is there any electronic reusable flash unit that can fire as long as the flash bulbs? My camera is actually from the 60s and it does have an FP sync port, along with an X contact, so if a modern FP flash existed, I would be able to use it with my camera.
    – ToastHouse
    Mar 29 '17 at 22:25
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    The only solution I can imagine for your camera is that a quick search found colescameras.com/flashbulbs.htm which claims to offer #6 and #25 and #26 in FP flash bulbs. As said, there are HSS electronic flashes, but they must communicate with the camera, which means a modern compatible camera. PocketWizard has a HyperSync mode which aids cameras to use the longer duration of a slow burning (bigger) electronic flash to somewhat mimic HSS (without being HSS).
    – WayneF
    Mar 29 '17 at 22:37

Is there an electronic flash that I can connect to my camera's FP sync port and be able to use at around any shutter speed?

The problem isn't the flash, it's the shutter. At exposure durations shorter than the flash sync speed, the two curtains of a typical shutter are always covering some part of the sensor film, so there's no point when the flash can fire and expose the entire sensor.

One option is to get a camera with a different type of shutter. Some cameras, like the Fuji X-series cameras, have a leaf shutter that by its nature exposes the entire sensor. This allows very high sync speeds -- the Fuji X100 have a sync speed of 1/4000s.

A more common option is High Speed Sync, in which a speedlight is pulsed many times over the course of the exposure, providing illumination for a much longer period than a typical single flash, so that it gives an even exposure. Since HSS doesn't need to expose the whole sensor at the same time, you can use it at much higher speeds.

Considering the age of your camera, it's unlikely that HSS is an option for the camera you have. Your best bet would probably be to provide enough continuous light instead of using flash.

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    Camera speedlights for example, are constant voltage, but shorten their firing duration to vary power level. Lower power level is much shorter than 1/1000 second. But at full maximum power, about any will be longer than 1/1000, more likely around 1/250 or 1/300 second T1. However, regardless of normal flash duration (excepting the longer special HSS mode), the focal plane shutter still cannot sync any flash at speeds faster than its sync speed, 1/60 second in old days, commonly 1/200 second today. This makes your question very hard to answer differently.
    – WayneF
    Mar 30 '17 at 3:15
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    @ToastHouse, you seem to be fixated on needing a flash, but Caleb's answer as I read it is pointing out that you're asking the wrong question. The right question is: how can I get the illumination that I need for my shot? Flash isn't the only way of providing light. Mar 30 '17 at 7:46
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    @ToastHouse It sounds like you're trying to use flash as though it were a constant source. That's what HSS or Auto FP modes do, but as I said above, you probably don't have that option with the camera you're using. If your goal is to shoot faster than 1/60 because you want to freeze motion, then use the flash to your advantage: eliminate as much ambient light as possible and shoot with flash at the camera's normal sync speed of 1/60s. The very short duration of the powerful flash will freeze motion even though the shutter happens to be open longer.
    – Caleb
    Mar 30 '17 at 17:33
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    FP and X are different timing, because like other flash bulbs, it takes several milliseconds for the bulb to ignite and become bright. FP waits for that to occur before opening the shutter (like other flash bulbs). Electronic flash X is immediate, no waiting. Actually, for the "continuous" light of FP or HSS, you want the light to be on before the shutter opens, until just after it closes. So HSS has to be matched to the camera model.
    – WayneF
    Mar 31 '17 at 12:58
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    You're asking the question wrong, which is causing the confusion. You should read up a little on "stopping motion flash photography", google.com/search?q=stopping+motion+flash+photography We can't use High Speed as keywords, because that pulls up HSS, which is the slowest possible choice. HSS or FP can allow 1/1000 second shutter, but the solution using speedlghts is much faster than any shutter. Brighter too.
    – WayneF
    Mar 31 '17 at 13:18

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