Understanding high sync speed flash.

Learn how to get your flash to match your shutter speed for properly exposed photos using high sync speed.

What is high sync speed?

Shutter speeds can be fractions of a second. Most DSLR cameras are programmed to sync with flashes with shutter speeds up to 1/200 of a second. While that’s definitely fast, many cameras have shutter speeds up to 1/500 and beyond, which is way too fast for your flash to keep up.

A high sync speed (HSS) lets you use your flash at much faster shutter speeds. It creates a better link between your camera and flash to make sure everything fires at exactly the right time.

How to turn on HSS.

To turn on HSS, go into your camera settings and find the menu that says Bracketing/Flash. You should see options for shutter speeds faster than 1/200. Select the one that best fits your shot’s needed shutter speed.

Then, find the HSS setting on your speedlight and do the same. Some speedlights automatically update to HSS mode once the camera is set. There should be an indicator on the LED once the camera is in the right settings.

When to use high sync speed.

Since most cameras have a native sync speed of 1/200, you’ll need to use high sync speed if your shutter speed is faster than 1/200.

HSS is very helpful when you’re shooting scenes where your subject is shaded but there’s a bright background — like for an outdoor portrait. The fast shutter speed will catch the flash as it illuminates the subject, without brightening the background.

Make adjustments with photo editing software.

When you’re dealing in hundredths of a second, there’s a lot of room for error. Luckily, even if you don’t get the exposure just right with your high sync speed, you can always adjust your photo’s exposure later using photo editing software like Adobe Lightroom.

Want more helpful photography tips?

Explore what more you can do with Lightroom to get the best exposure for all your shots.