If you’ve been following my work over the years you’ll know I’ve been playing around with high speed flash sync for quite a while. I first posted about it back in 2009 and with my Nikon cameras and pocket wizards it was a fairly easy thing to do. This year however I switched 100% to Sony for my digital work, and high speed sync with my Nikon Pocket Wizard TT5’s just wasn’t going to work. I played around with my A7rii as soon as I got it 2 years ago, and it didn’t take long to figure out that my way of doing it using the Pocket Wizard MultiMAX wouldn’t work with the Sony either. I’m a big fan of the Elinchrom Quadra flash system, it’s powerful enough for most things I shoot, and at lower power it has a very quick flash duration. It’s also very portable, which is important when you’re carrying gear. When Elinchrom announced the EL-Skyport Plus HS a while back I got pretty excited.
With all new camera toys there’s a learning curve, and while I know a lot about high speed sync with Nikon, and I’d yet to use it with my Sony, and the EL-Skyport Plus HS transmitter was new to me as well. I took a bit of time and played around with it in the studio to make sure everything worked.
After getting everything figured out in the studio the next step was to try it on an actual shoot. I tried using just as a test on my Pennock Pass shoot, however there was a huge shutter delay when I turned the transmitter on. It was probably there in the studio as well, but as I was only testing the sync I hadn’t actually noticed. After I got back to the office a quick reset to factory settings and firmware update on the Elinchrom transmitter fixed the issue, so I set out to test it again. I had planned to do a sunset shoot with my friend Taylor at Riverbend Ponds, and it was a perfect opportunity to make sure everything worked properly now that shutter delay issue was fixed.
Shooting a balancing woman is great, but it doesn’t do much to test the action stopping capabilities of high speed sync. I needed to test it again with a fast moving subject and see how it held up. I had to do another shoot with Nate Adams for Niner Bikes, so we took the Elinchrom Quadra kit along. It performed flawlessly, even better than my old Nikon kit with the Pocket Wizard transmitters. The main difference being that at full power the Quadra puts out 400WS, which is about 4 times as much light as a Nikon Speedlight, and if you take the time to figure out how the ODS offset on the transmitter works, you can turn down the power and still get decent light. The Nikon speedlights really struggled at anything less than full power. My only wish is that I had two Quadra packs, both with HS heads. Until that happens I’m going to play around with using the Quadra to optically trigger my beat old Nikon SB800’s, but that’s another post.