Fuji X100 Insane Flash Sync Speed

The Fuji X100 has a crazy-high flash sync speed thanks to its 4-leaf shutter.  The Strobist crowd is really going to dig this thing.  Talk about killing the Sun…

Using an old Nikon SB-26 in manual mode connected via a Pearstone 6′ extension cable, I did some backyard experimenting with the X100. 

Aside from the odd assortment of brands (Fuji camera, Nikon flash, and Canon version of a Pearstone cable), the resulting lighting cocktail that the X100 is capable of wrangling is quite impressive.  And, in case you were wondering, because we’re going all manual with the flash, the flash and cable don’t really matter since it’s just a dumb trigger with no TTL communication.

Anyway, here’s a quick shot in mid-day sun at 1/4000s using a single speedlight at 1/64 power at camera left.  Minor adjustments in Lightroom.

Since I was just holding the flash so close, I actually had to stop down to f/4 to keep from blowing out his face.

The above shot is into the sunset at ISO 200, f/2.8 and 1/4000s.  Still firing the SB-26 at 1/64 power.  A good portion of the dark area behind her was lit up by the setting sun; however, the 1/4000s shutter just ate up all that ambient and even gave the Sun a good run for its money at f/2.8.

These old speedlights are the perfect mate for the X100.  You can still find them used online; however, if you’ve got a photo store nearby that buys and sells used gear, you can sometimes get great deals on SB-24’s and SB-26’s.

Anything at 1/8 power or lower on the SB-26 gives you a shorter flash duration than the X100’s minimum shutter speed of 1/4000.  Even if you want to drop back to a “slower” shutter speed of 1/1000, you should be able to milk the SB-26 for all it’s worth.

Just in case someone wants to know, here’s the Nikon SB-26 flash duration times according to the SB-26 manual (I’m assuming these are t.5 times and not t.1 times since there’s no specification otherwise – if anyone knows, feel free to drop a comment below):

  • Full power = 1/1000s
  • 1/2 power = 1/1100s
  • 1/4 power = 1/2500s
  • 1/8 power = 1/5000s (shorter than max shutter speed of X100)
  • 1/16 power = 1/8700s
  • 1/32 power = 1/12000s
  • 1/64 power = 1/23000s

The one thing I haven’t looked at is whether I’m losing a bit of the tail end of the power dump at full power (if these times are, in fact, t.5 times).  If you’ve got new Nikon flashes in your gear bag, like the SB-800 and SB-900, they are even faster and will stop down to 1/128 power for shorter than 1/40,000-second flash duration.  No danger of pushing the max shutter speed of the X100 there.

Combined with the solid image quality, the X100 is shaping up to be the camera of the year in my book.  I’ll have more on this slick new camera soon.

In the mean time, the Fuji X100 is available from Photography Bay’s trusted retail partner, B&H Photo, at the following link:

Fuji X100 at B&H Photo

Note that this is a hot item right now, so the stock status is a little hit or miss.

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