Fuji X100 – Super High Speed Sync!

Today I discovered another of my new Fuji X100’s unique powers. Its leaf shutter has the ability to sync with a flash unit at an ambient-crushing 1/1000 of a second. My D700, by comparison, has a maximum sync speed of 1/250th (you can go higher, but it dramatically cuts your speedlight’s effective power).

With a sync speed so high, I can compete with noon day ambient with a single flash gun and use wider apertures for shallower depth of field, something I couldn’t possibly do with my D700 without much more powerful lights. I tested out this really cool feature today, connecting one of my SB-900 flashes to my X100 with a sync cable (above). For the shots below, however, not only was the SB-900 running light through its dome diffuser, but also through a softbox with two more layers of diffusion material. Despite the bright, harsh sunlight (we took these pictures at around high noon) and all that extra diffusion cutting the flash power, I was still getting my exposures the way I wanted them.

Notice the aperture settings below. To give me even more control over the ambient while using as wide an aperture as possible, I activated the X100’s built-in 3-stop neutral density filter:

Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Of course, there’s no TTL communication between the SB unit and the camera, so everything here is manually set. I pegged the shutter speed at 1/1000 to give me a wide aperture, and simply adjusted my flash power/distance to taste (flash output was between 1/8 and 1/1 power for these images).

Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/5.6, ISO 200

Never thought I could saturate a noon-day sky so much at such wide apertures while using a single hotshoe flash (through several layers of diffusion!) to light my subject. The results are pretty surreal. Suki, however, is obviously not amused.

Fuji X100 – 23mm 1/1,000 sec, f/4, ISO 200

Sorry Suki.

Fuji X100 – 1/1,000 sec, f/2.8, ISO 200

Wow, I thought I loved the X100 before I discovered it can sync at such a high shutter speed. Now I’m utterly head over heels for this camera. =)

See more on Flickr!

91 thoughts on “Fuji X100 – Super High Speed Sync!

  1. oooh that’s what makes this look so unreal — the bokeh + blue sky in daylight! normally you don’t see that. how awesome! i need to take some lessons from you about all this lighting business. 🙂

  2. Leaf shutter has always been this way and has been an advantage for years making it is easy and nice. The D700 though does sync to 1/8000 in FP250 and FP350. FP350 does cut power though.

  3. Before I read this post, I thought these shots were from your D700. Brilliant job improvising with the flash and look forward to hearing more about the x100.

  4. i’ve been lurking on your blog after it came up in my reader’s explore. just thought i’d say hi and shamelessly admit that i squealed with delight and pretty much died at the three shiba stars post. love.

  5. Wow, they look great. Just got my X100! Have a Canon 550 EX flash and would like to have a go too. What cable have you used to sync? Would it work for my flash? Love your photos and technique. Cheers.

    1. Thank you! I’m not familiar with Canon flash guns, so I’m not sure if it would work, but I used a Nikon SC-29 sync cable to trigger the flash.

  6. great shots, the x100 is an amazing camera, just after taking shots on the beach with the smaller sb800 and I can tell you its time Nikon Leica an Canon offered leaf shutter lenses…..

    1. I shoot at f/2 a lot with the X100, but in this case f/2 wasn’t giving me a dark enough background for my taste at max sync speed. I stopped down to f/2.8 and smaller to bring the ambient down further.

  7. These are really impressive shots, and I’m pleasantly surprised by the IQ of the camera compared to what I’ve seen on other review sites. You may have just helped Fuji with another sale.. good job!!

  8. Just curious which flash bracket are you using? is it travel friendly?
    same question with your soft box!

    Love your shots!

    1. Thanks! Used a 24″ Lastolite EZY Box for this series of images. The set comes with a bracket and extendable handle to attach your flash to. It collapses down very small so yes, definitely a nice portable solution.

  9. Great shots! Even more amazing than the performance of the X100 is your ability to get Suki to sit still! My Shiba Inu would be half-way to the horizon if I took her out for a photo session…

  10. Nice post. I’ve got the same 24″ Lastolite Ezybox hotshoe so will most definitely have to give this a try with my X100. Guess I’ll need to get myself synch cable tomorrow. It’ll give me something to play with until my D700 gets back from Nikon, as well as a lighter package to run round with when I wnt to leave the big old’ DSLR at home.

  11. Hi Jonathan, I stumbled upon your blog a few days ago and have read almost every post! It’s informative and your shots are beautiful. Not to mention, I love San Francisco (one of my favorite cities), dogs and photography so your blog is a real treat! I’ve never been a fan of flash photography, mostly because I really do not understand how to do it properly so I haven’t experimented with it more than using the pop up/intelligent flash on my cameras, but your posts on the subject, and your tips and tricks are really interesting and the results are perfect. I just wanted to ask if this set up that you have up there (with the SB900 and SC-29 cable) works on P&S particularly the Fuji X10 (cause that’s my newest baby and I love it!) I’d be really interested to try out all your flash tips on it.

    1. Hi Bianca! Thanks for stopping by and checking my blog out. The X10 has a hotshoe like the X100 does, so I imagine it should work with the sync cable and SB unit just fine, but I can’t say for sure because I haven’t tried it myself.

  12. I love these shots – especially the 1st as Suki is beautifully ‘connected’ to the overall picture. Certainly a technique I will try with my X100.

  13. Jonathan,

    I keep referring to this blog post as I consider buying a Fuji x100. I am really into using large diffused flash outdoors. Currently using the Nikon HSS system with 4 SB800’s in a nice, but pricy Foursquare softbox.The harsh California is brutal when you can’t choose they time of day to shoot your subjects.

    I also have a handful of fabulous Leica M mount lenses from my newspaper days that I’m wondering if they will work on an x100. Do you or any of your blog followers have experience with the old (circa 1970..I bought them used) Leica lenses such as my 21mm Super-Angulon-M f/3.4 or Summicrons? I know they lens coatings weren’t that great back then, a potential issue in backlit situations, but the sharpness and lack of distortion was amazing.



    PS: beautiful dog!

    1. Don,

      Thanks for the comment! The X100 is not an interchangeable lens camera. The 23mm lens it has is built right into it. However, if you don’t mind the cost, the upcoming Fuji XPRO-1 will take a Leica M mount adapter. That may be the camera you’re after.

    1. And you should read the first paragraph of my post again 😉
      At shutter speeds above 1/250th on my D700, I can only sync with my speedlights if I use Auto-FP high speed sync, which switches the lights to a lower-energy mode of dissipation. The effective range of the flash is therefore dramatically reduced. So while my Nikon can sync at higher shutter speeds, the true maximum sync speed of the camera is still 1/250th. The Fuji, on the other hand, will sync at much higher speeds without a penalty in effective flash power.

      1. I just assumed the d700 can sync like a d1x up to 500 and from there it will sync with an electronical shutter to 8000. (or even 16000) I also think that the early nikon amateur cameras also had this feature but I’m not sure about this.
        I also know that the fuji syncs up to 1000 because of the electronic shutter since almoust any digicam syncs up to 1/500.

  14. Great article and good comments! I am not sure if I understood this correctly: If I would connect my 430EXII with an off camera cord to my X100, the speedlite works in manual mode? But then it should also work if I mount the speedlite directly on the X100 hotshoe, or am I wrong? Something has to trigger the canon flash…Thanks for any answer!

    1. I haven’t tried it with Canon flashes, but I found that if I connect my SB-900 to the X100 directly, it does indeed fire just as it does when I connect it via the sync cable.

      1. Alright. I just remembered that I mounted my speedlite already once directly on the X100 , and the flash fired, but the flash light was way to intense. Probably the flash wasn’t set to manual mode or it was set to full power, I can’t remember. Anyway, I will try again and write some feedback here! Thanks so far.

  15. Love your post. Thank you.
    I own a x100 and in need of a flash gun. Can you recommend one please? You sound like the guy in the know.

    1. You can certainly get Fuji’s own or try to use one from another camera you use. If you’re not sure yet just get a cheap one you can experiment with for a while =)

  16. Hi Jonathan,
    Its nice to come across your blog about Finepix X100 using Nikon Flash + Off-camera Flash cord !!
    I just got my hand on the X100 and I would like to explore more on Off-cam flash on it.
    ummmm ….I’m not quite familiar with manual flash unit settings; could you give me some advice about settings? e.g. Manual mode, Adjust Flash Output to 1/8 … more on this info?
    More important … how to determine the Flash output power? based on … distance? iso?
    My family have Nikon SB-800 & Off-camera flash cord ( non Infra red one) that I can use it for experiment !!
    Ultimately … I hope I can get familiar within with hi-speed sync mode !

    1. Hi Peter,

      If you want to get super predictable results, you could use an external light meter to get your flash settings right when using a setup like I describe above. This works for very controlled settings. In my case, chasing my dog around a park? I just guess what the power needs to be. I usually get pretty close =)

      1. Thx Jonathan,
        May I ask you a bit more?
        I tried using Finepix X100 with Nikon sc-17 (cord) and try Nikon SB 26 & SB 800.
        Unfortunately … this combinations seems not working.
        Later I tested using Nikon D2H with sc-17 and both flash(s) and confirmed both are working.
        ( I believed direct mount the flash to X100 should not work either )

        I am just wondering … is there any settings required in X100 in order to use non-Fuji flash( I believe not )?
        Checked that my X100 is still under firmware 1.01 ; does it required higher version to make this work??
        Or … is it my X100 faulty?
        Any clue to share?

  17. Hi Jonathan,
    At last, I found an old PANASONIC FLASH ( with Manual & Auto only ) … I tested again with SC-17 and no working. But I mount it to X100 directly ; seem working. So it seems this SC-17 compatibility issue.
    Again, Nikon D2h + SC-17 + SB-800 or SB-26 = WORKING. And it is just not working with X100.
    Sorry my mistake again.

  18. In fact, you can push it to 1/4000; it wont work at f/stops wider than f/8, but it can be done. My “go-to” ambient killing set up with the X100 is to use a long off-camera cable, with the camera set to 1/4000, f/8, ISO200. This is 2 stops below “sunny 16”, and a single speedlight in a umbrella at ~4-6 feet can give me f/8. If I shoot a bit later in the day, I can get 1/2000, f/5.6 or even f/4, which is a breeze for small flash.

    Since I love the 35mm (equiv.) focal length anyway, this is becoming my camera-of-choice for off-camera lighting. The only wrinkle here is that my Pocketwizards will only give me 1/1000; if I want the extra 2 stops of ambient killing shutter speed, I have to go wired.

  19. Hi, Jonathan
    I love your photos. Just one quick question. Is 1/1000 the maximum x-speed achievable with internal flash? Can you go even higher?

  20. i could totally see myself shooting on the street with flash like that. But then how am I gonna sip coffee without a free hand. That’s something to think about ;P

    Nice dog!!

  21. Interesting comments,,,,

    free yourself from the cord,,, i tried this with my elinchrom Skyport transmitter and receiver with a canon 580 ex flash and it works a treat,,,,,

  22. Hi, ever since i got my X100, i’ve been reading your blog non-stop and I really look up to your work with this fantastic camera. I myself love this camera to death! anyway, I recently got my YN560EXII and wanted to give off-camera flash with a sync cable a try( just like what you did) i worked great at high sync speed like 1/1000th, which is fantastic but… In aperture priority mode, every time i use flash it will select a shutter speed of 1/30th at what ever aperture/ISO settings if i want to shoot movements in the background at night. even if i don’t use flash, aperture priority does not go below 1/30th. Is this the lowest it can go in aperture priority or is there a way to make it select a slower shutter speed in aperture priority mode without changing it manually? or do you just change manually to a slower shutter speed if you use flash to freeze the subject but still get blurry background?

    sorrie for the long question 🙂

    1. Hi there! It sounds like you might have Auto ISO activated with a minimum shutter threshold of 1/30 set at your camera. Have you tried turning that feature off? That should free your camera up to select shutter speeds lower than 1/30th in aperture priority mode.

      1. That did the trick! I can go below 1/30th now. thank you very much. Do continue to post more X100 stuff as well, its inspiring to all of us reading and looking at your pictures:)

  23. I’ve been shooting for about 68 years, and for about 50 of those with Leica Ms and later adding Rs into the mix. Age and illness forced me to sell my latest kit and I decided to go digital with a Pentax K5 and a few of their Pancakes. Well, coming straight from nearly seven decades of film, the K5’s 400 page instruction book scared the poop out of me! I didn’t want to use this capable camera as a “point-and-shoot,” but I also didn’t want to be in a box before I learned to use it. So, I gave it to my son.
    Long story short, I wanted simplicity, but couldn’t afford any of the German Leica stuff, nor even Sony’s new tiny full-framer. Last week my son let it slip (he’s 53 and should know better) that for my 75th birthday the family’s giving me an X100LE Black Kit.
    So for the past few days I’ve been reading everything I could find on the net concerning the X100. Let me tell you that of all the literally thousands of pages I have read, your posts have been the most helpful, nicely written, and informative –and, of course, I love your pictures and your dog. That’s all I really wanted to say. The only thing is, I’m so excited about my X100, I hope I don’t give myself a coronary before my birthday rolls around!

    1. Hi Robert,

      I really appreciate your comment, and I’m glad an X100 made its way into your hands. Even though many fantastic cameras have been released since I purchased the mine, it’s still easily my favorite digital camera ever. I hope you enjoy many more years with yours! Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog =)

  24. Hey Jonathan! I’ve really enjoyed reading your blog posts and all of your photos. I’ve been looking for a serious P&S that would complement my D700 for travel and casual shooting. Because of the price, quirks, and fixed lens, the X100 hadn’t even been on my radar. Now that prices have come down and reading all of the exhaustive reviews from pro’s and advanced amateurs, I’ve pulled the trigger on one. Despite all of its quirks (most of which have been fixed in firmware it seems), this is a power house in a compact package. I can’t wait to get it into my hands!

  25. Wow. These are awesome.
    I was looking into the new X100s that’s about to drop and wondered if my SB-800s would work. Can we trigger wireless from the built in or does it need the cable?

  26. I’m using Fuji X-E1 n already bought Nikon SC-29 but still it didn’t work with my SB900 @ 1/500s . . . please let me know why this’s happening? I’ve already use M mode in mySB also in myX-E1. Thanks

    1. It’s the X100’s leaf shutter that enables you to sync with a flash at higher shutter speeds. The X-E1 is equipped instead with a focal plane shutter, so the high speed sync capabilities of the X100 are not in the XE-1’s bag of tricks unfortunately.

    1. Hi Michael – setting the flash mode to “external” should allow you to only fire a ocf flash.You will need a radio trigger or cable for this . Setting he flash to “commander” mode can be used to fire a ocf flash optically using the on-camera flash (this second method I personally have not tried) .

  27. Hi Jonathan – are you shooting JPG’s or RAW I’m noticing when viewing the .RAF files in LR4.4 Develop module, the colors look flat and the characteristic Fuji  “pop” is missing. On the other hand no such problem when viewing JPG’s in LR.

    1. @Michael what Saif said =)

      @Saif I really like Fuji’s in-camera processing, so I tend to shoot JPEG for most of my casual photography with the X100. If you shoot RAW and upload to LR, things will definitely look different because LR will ignore Fuji’s processing and interpret the unprocessed RAW data using its own parameters. A JPEG file out of the camera is already processed using Fuji’s parameters, which is why you’re not seeing the same thing happen when you view JPEGs in LR.

  28. HI Johathan,
    This was an awesome post. Thanks so much for sharing. I love your lighting and your adorable subject. 🙂
    I was wondering if you know of any wireless triggers that will work with the X100 instead of using the cable. I have the Phottix Stratos II for Nikon but they don’t seem to fit into the hot shoe. I actually have the X100s (just got it yesterday and your review of the X100 pushed me to make the final decision and buy it) and I assume the X100 and X100s have the same type of hot shoe. I read in the comments that one of the readers mounted his Nikon flash directly on the X100 but my Nikon flash can’t fit. The hot shoe mount on the X100s seems to tight. 😦

    1. Hi Vanja,

      Thanks for the comment! I recently did some work with the X100s and an SB-910. Take a look at the last two photos in this post: https://jonathanfleming.wordpress.com/2013/05/06/dolled-up/. I triggered the remote SB unit wirelessly using pocket wizard plus IIIs (one hot shoe’d to the X100s, the other hooked up to the SB-910s PC sync port), and it worked really well. Are you sure you can’t get your Nikon flash to fit on the X100s? The camera has a standard hot shoe, so it should work just fine.

      1. I guess I did that wrong. Should have replied to this comment. 😉 You can delete the other one.

        Thanks so much for your quick reply! Wow! Those are gorgeous. All your work is!
        Ok, I tried again and it worked. Yay! I was able to get the SB-900 on the camera and fire it in manual mode as expected. It was a little tight at first but I guess it’s because the camera is brand new. My Phottix Stratos still won’t fit though. It’s strange because they fit into my Nikon D3 and D90 just fine. The part that goes into the hot shoe seems to be just a tiny bit thicker than the ones on the actual flash and I’m scared to shove it in there. I’ll try to do some more reading and see what I can find. I saw that a few others used similar triggers and it worked and I was really hoping these would work for me since I have several of them already.

      2. Ok, it finally worked. I just pushed it in there. I knew that it just must have been really tight. And they work. I can’t wait to play. Thanks again for responding so quickly.

      3. Great blog, just picked up a X100 this week. I also use Stratos II radio triggers for wedding work. Not had a chance to try these yet with my x100 but I suspect I can’t do high speed sync with them. According to specs they only go upto 250th sec. I’d need to buy the Odin and associated receiver to do it properly I think. Jonathan I don’t know if you have shot wireless hss with the X100?

  29. Thanks so much for your quick reply! Wow! Those are gorgeous. All your work is!
    Ok, I tried again and it worked. Yay! I was able to get the SB-900 on the camera and fire it in manual mode as expected. It was a little tight at first but I guess it’s because the camera is brand new. My Phottix Stratos still won’t fit though. It’s strange because they fit into my Nikon D3 and D90 just fine. The part that goes into the hot shoe seems to be just a tiny bit thicker than the ones on the actual flash and I’m scared to shove it in there. I’ll try to do some more reading and see what I can find. I saw that a few others used similar triggers and it worked and I was really hoping these would work for me since I have several of them already.

  30. Hi Jonathan,

    These outdoor portraits of Suki are awesome! I have my fuji x100s and planning to use my olympus fl600r using wireless trigger for outdoor portraits. I don’t have a 24″ softbox, but I’m thinking of getting a Lumiquest LQ 119 (9×10 inces) or LQ 124 (10×14 inces). I prefer a smaller softbox because I will bring it during my travels. Do you think these smaller softbox will help soften the light compared to using bare flash at all? And given that I want to do is similar to the composition you’ve done above (subject plus background or scene), and softbox will be position as close to the subject as possible. Thanks 🙂

    1. Hi there! Yes, you’ll get a softer quality of light with a 9×10 or 10×14 light mod, but just be sure you get that light source close to your subject for maximum effectiveness, as you already stated.

  31. Hi Jonathan,
    Thank you for sharing these amazing shots! I just recently purchased a X100 and could not be happier. I was looking to do exactly this with a SB-700 I have. Any suggestions on a cord to use or does it not really matter? I want to start off simple for now so not looking into any triggers, etc yet. So just a plain old corded setup for now. Thanks!

      1. Hi Jonathan,
        I really love your pictures! Especially Suki! Thank you for sharing your x100 tips. Will the Nikon SC-29 cable work with the SB-600? I tried mounting the SB 600, it worked, but i have to set in in manual mode with flash power around 1/16. Is there a better way to adjust the SB600 on the x100? Thanks again!

  32. Hi Jonathan,

    Earlier this year I read already your wonderful blog about Fuji x100s in combination with an SB910. I also normally work with a D700 and sometimes in combination with one or more 910’s (OCF).
    I bought my X100s also thanks to your post and that of Zack Arias, also a very Fuji X camera enthusiast!

    I also bought a SC-29 to work OCF with my x100s and a 910.
    Too bad that there is still no TTL solution for this setup,…;-(,..???
    I want to take the x100s and a 910 (with trifold umbrella) on my upcoming holiday to Crete.
    I still consider to take the D700, (for TTL sakes) but as you know its still pretty heavy in combi with the 24-70,..even with the MD10 off the cam.,..;-(,..so its still better to leave this rig at home and work with the X100s.

    Butt,..on the streets, markets and harbours i like to work fast when i spot a nice ‘scene’,….
    Because the people i want to picture, (fishermen, market people etc) won’t wait whit their work
    until I finally found a good manual setting on the SB 910,……
    (And It’s definitely been a weird face that Dutch tourist with his stupid umbrella in the summer! ..;-)

    In TTL i don’t have that problem,…Point, focus and shoot!
    Soo,…Having said this,…..
    Is their a kind of ‘formul’ that i can use, whiteout doing several manual settings, (1/1/, 1/4, 1/8, 1/16 etc)
    Before i have a ‘good exposed’ picture?

    PS,…I also work with the X100s and my PW Flex TT5 (Nikon) triggers!
    A little tape on one of the Flexes and this system works also!,…only on ‘Manual’ of course!

    Tnx Jonathan!,…& keep up the good work!,.;-)

    WKR, Tom

    1. hi, question, is there no way to set some settings in camera and flash to do this without that YN622N or that cable mentioned in this post? thanks

      1. thanks for your comments and answers Jonathan, really appreciate it. now actually what I meant was if it is equally possible to use the X100F and off camera Nikon SB900 together without that cable. So can you do that remote with settings on X100F and SB900. Or does it really need to be a cable for some reason? Reason why I am asking is that I really want to buy the X100f and start testing with high speed sync and off camera flash… thanks and greetz from Belgium

  33. hi, so I understand you only took A very open, short shutter speed, and manually tried some flash outputs right? So you had to do a lot of attempts I would understand to have the final result?

    1. Good question! In these cases the flash power was at maximum the entire time. To adjust the amount of flash exposure on my subject, I simply adjusted the distance of the light source to my subject.

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