What Can HyperSync Do for You?

Sebastian Kienle               Donald Miralle                   na                           1/500                       f/4.5

Sebastian Kienle as photographed by Donald Miralle, 1/500th, f/4.5. ©Donald Miralle.

HyperSync® is one of the most revolutionary features for flash photography since the flash bulb. It’s also the least known or understood concept in flash photography despite it being four years since it was first introduced.

Simply put, HyperSync is a feature in our ControlTL® radios that lets you use shutter speeds above the normal x-sync limitations when using studio flash. It is very dependent on the camera and flash models being used but with the right combination of gear you can use shutter speeds all the way to 1/8000th of a second with studio flash!

How is this possible? The ControlTL radios with this feature (MiniTT1, FlexTT5, PowerST4, PowerMC2) are able to advance the timing of the flash triggering so at speeds above x-sync you’re still getting light from the flash to expose the sensor. Normally, if you tried to go above your camera’s x-sync speed with a flash, you would get “clipping” or a black bar across your image. That part of the sensor missed being exposed by the flash because it was exposed prior to the flash firing.

ISO 200, 1/1600th, f/4. ©Garth Milan

ISO 200, 1/1600th, f/4. ©Garth Milan

For speedlight users, you’re probably saying your flashes can do this with no problem, but in fact, what your flashes are doing is very different. High Speed Sync (HSS for Canon or Auto FP for Nikon) is a very high speed stroboscopic pulsing of the flash. It uses a lot of flash power before and after the shutter moves to make sure the entire sensor is exposed to light from the flash. This is a great feature but it has its limitations primarily in power output of the speedlights. You can learn more about the difference between HSS and HyperSync here.

Back to HyperSync…So what does HyperSync do for photographers? By allowing the use of high shutter speeds combined with flash, many new photographic possibilities open up. The easiest to understand is the ability to freeze action. 1/1000th of a second will stop action a lot better than 1/250th. When you’re trying to put some “pop” in your action photos with the use of flash, and you need more power than speedlights can provide, using HyperSync with bigger flash is a true game changer.

HyperSync and Action

The pro action and adventure shooters were the first to jump on the HyperSync wagon. For many, it has changed the way they shoot and helped them differentiate themselves from all the other action shooters out there.

Erik Seo, a ski photographer out of Utah has been using HyperSync for the past few years. “Plain and simple, HyperSync gives me more creative control of my mid-day lighting and the ability to freeze action in daylight. Put another way, shooting at high noon doesn’t suck anymore.”

ISO 640, 1/500th, f/5.0. ©Erik Seo

ISO 640, 1/500th, f/5.0 ©Erik Seo

Chris Garrison, one of the top wakeboard photographers and a “go-to” guy for others trying to put HyperSync in their bag of tricks, had this to say “HyperSync is 100 percent where my creative style comes from! I can shoot high speed shutters with flash at very low apertures in the middle of the day, and even directly into the sun. It gives me the ability to take an average to below average scene and make it look unbelievable!”

Chris Garrison                    125                         1/800                                     3.5

ISO 125, 1/800th, f/3.5. ©Chris Garrison

Another snow shooter, Chris Owen, gives us a little more detail. “I spend a good chunk of my time shooting snowboarding. The bright sunny days combined with that giant reflector, that is the snowy ground, made it hard to use flashes to get a little more out of my photography. HyperSync allows me to use flashes without dialing back my exposure times. I’m shooting at 1000th of a second @ f/11, where before I would have to give something up in order to use a flash. Most new technology just allows me to carry on with how I’ve been doing things for years; HyperSync is actually allowing me to shoot in a way that wasn’t possible before.”

Tom Bol, an adventure photographer out of Colorado, was one of the first to test the latest version of HyperSync and was quickly impressed. “Wow! Just did some quick test shots with the new beta, easily getting 1/8000th at 5.6 ISO 100 on my D4 and D800 with my (Elinchrom) Ranger, also excellent performance on the Quadra.” Tom talks about the latest improvements in HyperSync on the ProPhotoCoalition website.

Donald Miralle, a top sports photographer, gave us a specific shot that he couldn’t have made without HyperSync. “I recently had to shoot Ironman 70.3 World Champion Sebastien Kienle of Germany for the cover of LAVA Magazine’s July issue. I couldn’t be more pleased with the images I was able to capture with my Nikon D800 paired with the FlexTT5 and Profoto 7b’s. I am able to get medium format results with 100mb+ sized files and successfully shoot well over 500th of a second with no more black strips in frame. I would not be able to freeze water droplets or grains of sand on a 35mm camera and Profoto 7b strobes without the use of the PocketWizard FlexTT5’s.”

Lava Magazine cover by Donald Miralle, 1/640th, f/8. ©Donald Miralle

Lava Magazine cover by Donald Miralle, 1/640th, f/8. ©Donald Miralle

Tony Donaldson is an athlete turned photographer who shoots almost anything that moves; cars, bikes, people, etc. He’s been using HyperSync for some time to bring images to life. “PocketWizard and HyperSync allow me the precise control I need for stopping action and dealing with bright daylight so I can create the images I want. Clients often can’t wait for perfect light, with HyperSync I don’t have to worry about compromising.”


HyperSync and Portraits

The other side of the equation is for anyone trying to make good photos when shooting in midday sun. For the professional, there is often no choice as to when a picture is taken. You either have a client that has an inflexible schedule or a wedding that happens right when the blazing sun is directly overhead. With the ability to go above x-sync, even way above x-sync, now you can tell the sun whose boss by shooting at wide open f-stops with high shutter speeds to get a fabulous soft background even at high noon.

©Eric Uys

ISO 200, 1/4000th, f/1.8. ©Eric Uys

Eric Uys hit our radar just the other day. He’s from South Africa and posted on our Facebook wall. His work got our attention quickly as he’s been using HyperSync in a lot of his portrait and wedding work. He’s done an excellent blog post on the subject but our favorite quote, which dates back to the release of the PowerST4, was this; “I then read that they had brought out the ST4 controller unit that will work with Elinchrom units and as a bonus due in fact them being all genius, it would sync your standard studio strobe at whatever speed you wanted it to sync to. IN OTHER WORDS, I could shoot with a full power studio strobe at f2.0 at a shutter speed of 1/8000th. There were no words in my mind, just a big fat overgrown WOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE going through every fibre in my body.”

Look for a Webinar from Mark Wallace on using HyperSync for portraits later this month.


What can HyperSync do for your photography? If you shoot action, portraits, weddings or anything else that requires a lot of flash and high shutter speeds, HyperSync could be the difference you’ve been waiting for.


All images and quotes in this post are used with permission and copyright the indicated photographers, all rights reserved; story is ©PocketWizard. Please respect and support photographers’ rights. Feel free to link to this blog post, but please do not replicate or repost elsewhere without written permission.

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3 Responses to “What Can HyperSync Do for You?”

  1. […] Check out what HyperSync can do for you. […]

  2. Alan Moore says:

    What power level or strobe would you use for HyperSync.

    • Ron Egatz says:

      With an opening this large, I would suggest full power. Elinchrom Ranger RX with an S head. A good light meter will always help you dial in what you need.