A guide to PocketWizard HyperSync and High Speed Sync settings

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Your DSLR typically has a flash sync speed of 1/250s, for mirrorless camera it is slightly slower at 1/180s. This flash sync speed is a physical limitation on how fast your shutter certain travels. When you are using flash and your shutter speed is faster than the flash sync speed, part of your frame will blocked by the shutter certain and typically  a black band appears on your image.

To overcome this, most speedlights have a High Speed Sync mode (HSS), Nikon calls it FP and Canon calls it HSS. In this mode, the speedlight acts as a continuous light by pulsing the light as the shutter certain travels. If you are unsure about HSS, check out this article.

[Rewind – Setting up off camera flash and How to setup Pocket Wizard]

If you are a strobist like me, you probably are still using Pocketwizard triggers despite Canon’s new 600EX-RT with built in RF transceiver. For Nikon users, we are still waiting for Nikon to come out with their own version of speedlights with built in transceiver. Pocketwizard might be losing its ground because of this, but their triggers are still an industry standard and very reliable. If you are using a mixture of studio lights and speedlights, Pocketwizard triggers will be compatible with all of them. You can even trigger Nikon speedlights and Canon speedlights together via Pocketwizards triggers. 

 

Pocketwizard Flex TT5 (Nikon|Canon) and Mini TT1 (Nikon|Canon) have two operation modes that will let you shoot faster than the flash sync speed i)High Speed Sync and ii)HyperSync. They are two different modes and are not to be mixed up. The HSS mode is identical to the FP (Nikon) and HSS (Canon) modes by pulsing the flash before the first curtain opens and continue to pulse for the duration until the second curtain closes. HyperSync operates with a normal burst of flash, which has much more energy compared to a pulsing flash from HSS. HyperSync also uses precision timing to align the flash’s duration and output curve with the moving shutter curtains, so it does require some tweaking involved. Hypersync works with any flashes and even studio lights, it is the only way to let you shoot at higher shutter speed with studio lights.

For more information on how Hypersync works check out this guide from Pocketwizard.

With Pocketwizard Flex TT5 and Mini TT1, there is a learning curve on to how to connect them  and configure them. If you are to use its high speed sync and hyper sync modes, there are even more settings to adjust. I use a mixture of Flex TT5 and Plus III, so to get them to work properly together, I have been testing the different settings via the firmware utility and have spent many hours of testing and trailing to make sure I understand how everything works and what to expect from the different combination of settings. If you want to use Flex TT5 as a receiver with the Plus III, you need to change the Flex TT5 receiver channel to “Standard” instead of “ControlTL”.

You can download the latest Pocketwizard firmware and utility here.

For this article, I am using firmware 3.7 for Flex TT5 and Mini TT1. There are five components (Plus III as receiver, Mini TT1/ Flex TT5 as transmitter, Flex TT5 as receiver, a Speedlight, a Studio Strobe) in the setup which should cover all the different combination of Pocketwizard connection. Depending on the different settings on the transceivers and connection to the speedlight or strobe, the output of the flash behaves quite differently. Here is a summary on what to expect with different Pocketwizard settings and connection. Leave us a comment below if you have any questions.

Scenarios Shutter speed Plus III receiver
setting
Mini1/Flex TT5 transmitter setting Flex TT5 receiver setting Speedlight setting Studio Strobe Results
      Control HyperSync setting HSS setting Control Mode Connection    
Speedlight 1 <1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
TTL mounted on Flex TT5 x Normal flash TTL mode
Speedlight 2 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
TTL mounted on Flex TT5 x Flash FP/HSS mode
Speedlight 3 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
M, power 1/1 mounted on Flex TT5 x no full power, flash pulsing at maximum limited output
Speedlight 4 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
M, power 1/1 sync cable via P2 x no FP/HSS, manual flash, banding above 1/250s
Speedlight 5 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
TTL sync cable via P2 x no FP/HSS and TTL, full power, banding above 1/250s
Speedlight 6 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Hypersync only Disabled ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
M, power 1/1 mounted on Flex TT5 or sync cable via P2 x Hypersync mode at manual flash power, banding above 1/500s
Speedlight 7 > 1/250s Standard Ch1 ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s x TTL sync cable x No flash fire
Speedlight 8 > 1/250s Standard Ch1 ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s x M, power 1/1 sync cable x No flash fire
Speedlight 9 > 1/250s Standard Ch1 ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Hypersync only Disabled x M, power 1/1 sync cable x Hypersync mode at manual flash power, banding above 1/500s
Strobe 1 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
x x Sync at 1/8000s if using long flash duration
Strobe 2 > 1/250s Standard Ch1 ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Untick Hypersync only HSS begins at 1/250s x x x No flash fire
Strobe 3 > 1/250s Standard Ch1 ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Hypersync only Disabled x x x HyperSync, works up to 1/800s
Strobe 4 > 1/250s x ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
Hypersync only Disabled ControlTL Ch1
Standard Ch1
x x HyperSync, works up to 1/800s
Strobe 5 > 1/250s x Standard Ch1
(Basic trigger ON)
Disabled Disabled Standard Ch1 (Basic trigger ON) x x only works up to 1/200s, banding above 1/250s

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About Kent Yu

Kent is a professional wedding and portrait photographer based in Wellington, New Zealand. He and his team specialise in modern and contemporary weddings. Kent has his work published in international magazines and is a regular author to a number of photographic publication. He is fascinated by photographic equipment and enjoys showcasing the gear used in creating his images. You can find him on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Google+
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