What Is Flash Shutter Speed?

This post is part of our Q&A section. If you want to submit your question, please use the form in the Contact page.


Dinesh (Mumbai, India) asked : I read your post about flash sync speed and now I got confused about flash sync speed and flash shutter speed. I went through Nikon D90 manual but couldn’t be satisfied with the explanation they gave. Can you please tell me the difference between flash sync speed and flash shutter speed?

If you have already read my post about flash sync speed as you mentioned in your question, I will skip that part and go through what is flash shutter speed and when to use it.

Flash shutter speed represents the minimum (slowest) shutter speed your camera will use when it is set to normal sync mode. Sometimes it’s also referred as a “studio sync” speed. Many photographers especially studio photographers have used sync speed of 1/60th of sec which has become somewhat standard. However some photographers like to shoot in different shutter speed. If you like to eliminate as much ambient light as possible, you should go with higher value such as 1/200th of sec or 1/250th of sec shutter speed. But if you want to capture ambient light (using rear curtain slow sync), you can start with 1/60th of sec and decrease the speed as you need.

There is no standard or correct sync speed, but if you are shooting under normal light inside studio or outdoor, default flash shutter speed which is 1/60th of sec can be best choice and then you can manipulate your speed depending upon whether you want to capture ambient light or avoid ambient light. And if you want to change the default value in your camera settings, its pretty much easy. If you are using Nikon D90, you have to go to CSM (Custom Setting Menu) and go to the Bracketing/flash and choose option e1. But if you are using D200, D300, D700 and other higher D-series like D2 or D3, you have to navigate through CSM and go to option e2.