High Speed Sync with OMD

Just recently I found a youtube link with a video someone explaining how to make high speed sync work with Olympus OMD EM5 Mark I. Skeptical I tried it out and got it to work after several attempts. I can not explain how it exactly works but it does definitely.

Let´s start at the beginning and let me explain what this method of taking photographs means. Most people who found this article on my site will already know. If you want to take a photo in daylight using of camera flash, either to give your subject an extra kick of light or to under expose the background and let your subject pop out because lighten up by artificial light, you have to set your camera to a fast f-stop and a high shutter speed on the other side. Of course does the focal length also play a big role, but to get the lowest depth of field all parameters have to play together.

Of camera flash and high shutter speed does not go together the way things are developed from the camera manufactures and so everybody tries to find a workaround with triggers and flash synchronization times and so on. But I use Olympus OMD bodies and for Olympus this officially does not work with off camera flash but with the TTL flash on the hot shoe of the camera.

With the ttl flash on the camera you have to set in the flash menu to TTL FP or Manual FP for shorter sync times than 1/250 of second.  Yes not mentioned before but 1/250 is the max. sync time your OMD will allow to sync with the flash.

I want to photograph with off camera flash during daylight and create a shallow depth of field. I want a look in my photos similar to Nikon or Canon cameras can with the triggers and flashes available for their systems. There is a system from Elinchrom a friend of mine uses with his Canon. This system allows him to shoot with a high shutter speed in aperture or manual mode, use the Elinchrom Ranger. Isn´t that awesome!

But with an Olympus OMD EM5 Mark I camera you can do exactly the same. Sounds unbelievable first but it works. You can shoot with the fastest f-stop, up to 1/8000 in manual or aperture mode and you can use a studio flash or portable flash and any cheap trigger which works with the middle contact of the hot shoe of your OMD. I am not really sure if any flash will work because of the flash duration times different flashes have but I assume it should work with most flashes and strobes.

Just 3 days ago I figured out how it is possible and yesterday I took this photos of a friend.

45mm @f1.8 1/4000 ISO200 Metz AF52 off camera in Umbrella 2m from subject

 

45mm @f1.8 1/3200 ISO200 Metz AF52 off camera in Umbrella 2m from subject

It was a overcasted day and rained a bit but anyway it was so bright that my old OMD EM 5 was on the upper end of the shutter speed when I set it to f1.8. The editing of this photos I did in Lightroom.

 

So may lets get to the point where I explain how to set up your camera. You have to follow exactly this procedure to make it work, otherwise it won´t.

  1. Put your ttl flash on your OMD. Obviously it has to be a ttl flash for the olympus system.
  2. Switch on your camera and your flash. Your camera in aperture or manual mode
  3. chose on your flash the option Manual FP. Now the flash sets the camera in a fast sync mode.
  4. Switch off the flash and remove it from the hot shoe but leave the camera on
  5. put a wireless trigger which work with the middle contact on the hot shoe
  6. the receiver and flash or strobe you use doesn´t matter now

Now you can start shooting with high shutter speeds but as soon you switch off the camera now the high speed setting will get lost and you have to start at step one again. My OMD went in sleep mode during our short session but kept the setting. I did not have another flash or porty handy so I used the ttl flash but if you do so you have to make sure you set your flash after step 4 in manual mode.

So that´s basically it. I am looking forward to use it again and with my studio lights and portable strobe. Hope this little secret makes many Olympus shooters happy and it would be awesome if Olympus could implement a point in the camera menu to set the camera in the FP mode without needing the flash on the hot shoe.

45mm @f1.8 1/1000 ISO200 Metz AF52 off camera right behind the couple

This last photo in the phone box was taken during daylight.

I am sure with this technique used is much more to play around and being creative. Happy Shooting!

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