Cheat sheet: Rear curtain flash – how it works and why you need it

Rear curtain flash

(Image credit: Digital Camera World)

What is front and rear sync?

Flashguns produce a very short, intense burst of light. The flash ‘duration’ is very short, typically 1/500sec or even 1/1000sec, even though you will usually be working with much slower shutter speeds, and hence longer exposures, than that.

This means you have a choice about when the flash fires during the exposure – at the start (first-curtain sync) or at the end (rear-curtain sync). The ‘curtain’ is part of the focal plane shutter design of DSLRs and mirrorless cameras. The first curtain of the shutter moves aside to expose the sensor, the second moves across an instant later to cover it up again.

Front- or first-curtain sync

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