What is High-Speed Sync and When should You Use it?

High Speed Sync

High-Speed Sync

High Speed Sync (HSS) is a feature available in many Canon DSLR cameras. High Speed Sync (HSS) is a digital photo-manipulation technology that produces high-quality photographs from a camera with lower-than-normal shutter speeds.

What does HSS do?

High-Speed Sync

The camera automatically switches from autofocus to manual focus during a series of shots. Once you have taken the last shot, you can choose whether to lock in the auto focus settings or return the lens to its original position. The camera takes one picture using autofocus, followed by a series of pictures using manual focus. The final autofocus and automatic exposure values are then used to produce a JPEG file that you can view, store or print out. The camera uses the same image data as an M mode or movie function.

How does HSS work?

High-Speed Sync

During the exposure of the first image, the camera automatically shifts to manual focus. When you press the shutter button, it locks in the position of the focusing element. During the next series of shots, the camera moves the focusing element back to autofocus. It does this by moving a mechanical lever called the focus ring. The camera also records information such as the amount of movement, which indicates how accurate the autofocus was during each shot.

Canon HSS does not work in Live View mode.

How can I use HSS?

High Speed Sync can be set to ‘On’ or ‘Off’ in the Shooting Menu. To switch between the two options, scroll to the right to the Shooting Menu and then select the option. You can also control the Auto Focus/Manual Focus Shift speed in the Shooting Menu. You can set it to Fast (1 second), Normal (2 seconds) or Slow (10 seconds). The default setting is Slow, which means the camera will take 10 seconds to shift focus from autofocus to manual focus. You should experiment with the different settings to find out what works best for you.

When HSS is enabled, the camera records images in burst mode, but you cannot take a single shot. Instead, you must take a series of images by pressing the Shutter button.

Using HSS

For the best results, use the following settings to ensure the images look great:

• Use the widest aperture possible (f4 or f5.6). This ensures that the entire scene remains sharp in the final image.

• Use a tripod for sharp images.

• Switch on Live View mode when taking the photos.

• Enable HSS on the Shooting Menu.

• Choose a slow focus shift speed, which allows more light to reach the sensor.

• Set the ISO to a low value to stop the noise in the image from being too high. If you use a tripod, switch off the mirror lock-up function in the Shooting Menu to avoid blur.

Can I use High Speed Sync without the aid of a tripod?

High Speed Sync can be used with and without a tripod. The speed at which the shutter opens and closes will depend on how fast you move your camera from one subject to another. With a tripod, the shutter is always open, which makes for fast shooting. Without a tripod, the shutter remains open for a shorter time, which means less blur. But without a tripod, the camera moves as you move, so the shot can end up blurry.

You don’t need a tripod if you are using High Speed Sync to photograph moving subjects, such as a running athlete or a child in action. Moving subjects are photographed while the shutter is open.

High Speed Sync is a clever feature that allows you to fire off shots at high speed without a tripod. If you are using a tripod, then use it only if you want to.

If you are shooting with your camera on a tripod and want to get the most out of your images, turn the High Speed Sync feature on and set the shutter speed to 1/500 sec, which is the fastest speed at which the shutter can close in a half second. If you want to slow down the shutter speed even more, move the shutter speed dial to 1/250 sec. You will probably notice some blurring, but you can still get some decent shots. For example, you can shoot a moving car on a country road, and at 1/500 sec, you’ll capture the car as it passes in front of the lens.

If you are shooting with the camera on your shoulder and don’t need to get a sharp shot of your subject, don’t use High Speed Sync. It will give you a blurred picture.