HyperSync and the Classic Norton

Dave Schmidt has shared his passion for Norton bikes in the past. Here’s his account of his latest shoot with a Norton motorcycle utilizing HyperSync® technology.

Take One, no flash F/4 1/1000, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Take One, no flash, F/4, 1/1000, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Personal Experience
We never seem to have enough time to shoot around here but testing the new firmware was a good excuse to take some pictures. It worked out well as our friends at the Classic Bike Experience had a beautifully restored ’69 Norton Commando they wanted some pictures of and dropped it off at our studio for a few days. (We photographed another Commando in 2011 and wrote about it here). Click here for a Behind-the-Scenes look at the shoot.

Take One, with flash, 7D, 1/6400, F/2.8, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Take One, with flash, 7D, 1/6400, F/2.8, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Take One
With a bright sunny day, I rolled the bike outside around noon for the worst natural light available. I grabbed two AlienBees 1600s from the lighting closet and set them up with standard reflectors on either side of the bike just outside the camera frame and about 10 feet (3m) from the motorcycle. I used FlexTT5s with AC9 AlienBees Adapters as receivers and connected them with RJ14 cords and plugged an unconnected miniphone cable into the sync port to disengage the optical sync. Flashes were set to full power.

I used a Canon 7D with a FlexTT5 and AC3 ZoneController on top and a 70-200mm 2.8 lens. The 7D was a pretty good performer with HyperSync before this upgrade so I was expecting some very strong results. With the 7D’s crop factor of 1.6, I ended up shooting the lens at 70mm which equated to 112mm. I wanted to shoot longer but was limited to where I could position the bike and where other cars were parked in the lot. As it was, I used the back of my pickup truck to get a higher angle to remove some background clutter.

I did the calibration-shot (which allows the ControlTL system to properly calibrate timing for the camera it’s being used with) at 1/125th and then pushed the shutter speeds up as quickly as I could. At 1/6400th I was still getting a clean shot with no visible gradation in the image and the bike was lit well with the AlienBees. The final image proved the performance but was not going to make the cover of any magazine.

Take Two, no flash, 5D MII, ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/250. ©David Schmidt

Take Two, no flash, 5D MII, ISO 100, f/3.5, 1/250. ©David Schmidt

Take Two
A couple days later the bike was still here and I wanted to try again. I got to the office early to squeeze in a quick shoot before meetings and email took over my day. I rolled the bike out into the morning sun and positioned it next to a puddle from some heavy rain the day before.

This time I was shooting with my own Canon 5D Mark II with the 70-200mm f/2.8 lens. With the prior firmware, the 5D Mark II had not been a great HyperSync performer. Its large sensor and somewhat slower shutter blades resulted with just one “stop” of improvement over x-sync in my use. My goal for this shoot was to shoot at 200mm at f/2.8 and blur the background as much as possible. The rest of the set-up would be identical.

With the lights positioned and the camera set-up, I did my “cal-shot” at 1/125th and then started to increase the shutter speeds. I quickly passed my prior limits without any visible gradation issues showing in the frame. The speeds kept climbing. I reached the limit for this camera and shooting scenario at 1/4000th of a second. This was a massive performance increase for this camera and it allowed me to create an image with the shallow depth-of-field I was looking for while still shooting in bright sun.

Take Two, with flash, 1/1600, f/2.8, ISO 100. Notice something missing? Hint: check the video. ©David Schmidt

It’s still not a magazine cover, but at least worthy of sharing.

There are a few basics HyperSync users should understand.

Results will vary by camera, flash and settings

  1. Professional cameras or cameras with small sensors generally work the best
  2. Full-size sensors require more shutter-blade travel time and will have more visible gradation at higher shutter speeds with short flash durations compared to other cameras
  3. Using flashes with LONG flash durations will improve results with all cameras
  4. Using ControlTL receivers will improve results.  This is possible with:

i. Elinchrom RX flashes with PocketWizard PowerST4 receivers

ii. Paul C. Buff White Lighting and AlienBees flashes with FlexTT5 with AC9s

iii. Paul C. Buff Einsteins with PocketWizard PowerMC2 receivers

  1. The Einsteins should be at full power

iv. Any studio flash connected to the P2 port of a FlexTT5

  1. HyperSync will work with a Plus II, Plus III, PlusX connected to any studio flash (note C above) as the receiver with either a MiniTT1 or FlexTT5 acting as the transmitter
  2. HyperSync does not work as well with Speedlights due to their short flash durations; use high-speed-sync for Speedlights, when appropriate
Take Two, with flash, 1/4000, f/2.8, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

Take Two, with flash, 1/4000, f/2.8, ISO 100. ©David Schmidt

We are excited to see what others can do with HyperSync’s creative potential. The PocketWizard photo contest this month should highlight this capability in many exciting ways.

Check out Dave’s blog for more of the Norton.


HyperSync on the PocketWizard Wiki

HyperSync Technology Page

HyperSync Webinar with Chris Garrison


All images, videos, and quotes in this post are used with permission and ©David Schmidt, 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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One Response to “HyperSync and the Classic Norton”

  1. […] for all kinds of genius photography, seems to attract wheels. Motorcyles and BMX. Bicycles. And more motorcycles. Last month I called it BikerSync®. Mark Wallace, a motorcycle guy himself, wheeled down the road […]