In portrait photography, one of the situations I find rather difficult is when I shoot on a bright sunny day. This is because I like to have blurred backgrounds in my portraits and I can’t use wide apertures (ƒ/2.8 to ƒ/1.4) without risking overexposure. If I photograph this situation with normal flash, I will have to use smaller apertures from ƒ5.6, ƒ8, ƒ11 and so on… I will have well exposed images but not so blurry background. If I use normal flash, I can only use up to 1/250sec. Olympus’ native flash sync speed is 1/250, taking flash photographs beyond this, will result in images with a dark shadow we call shutter curtain.

30mm, ISO200, 1/5000sec, ƒ/1.6 Metz 58AF-1 on Olympus EM1X

The solution is to use High Speed Sync. High speed sync overcomes the limitations of the camera’s native flash sync. It allows me to use shutter speeds over 1/250 up to 1/8000 while keeping my aperture wide open.

To do this, I use the Metz 52AF-1 and Metz 58AF-1 flashguns on my Olympus OMD cameras (EM5, EM5mark 2 and EM1X). It has to be TTL flash for the Olympus system.

How to set it up:

1 Put your flashgun on your camera. Turn on your camera in manual or aperture priority.

2 Turn on your flashgun and choose Manual HSS. On my Metz 58AF1, I also set the flash power to 1/2. This gave me a more obvious fill light. Adjust how you like. This should now set the camera in a fast sync mode.

Photography by @snowdonphoto

3 DO NOT TURN OFF YOUR CAMERA. Turn OFF your flashgun and remove it from the hot shoe.

4 Put a wireless trigger which works with the middle contact on the hot shoe and you’re done!

Without flash, OMD EM1X , 30mm ƒ/6.3 ISO 200, 1/160sec
30mm, ISO200, 1/8000sec, ƒ/1.4 Metz 58AF-1 on Olympus EM1X

If you’re not using a Metz flashgun, here’s how to do it with the Olympus FL50R and cactus trigger.

If you know another way to use HSS with Olympus cameras, do share it in the comments below. Thanks for reading.