Leanne Knuist Photography

Different types of triggers for flashes

HSS, TLL, or Manual, what’s the fuss all about?

HSS, TTL and manual modes on speedlights will be explained in theory and practice in this exciting workshop. Why HIgh sync shutter speed should be top of mind when purchasing triggers and receivers.


What are triggers and receivers?

The trigger is the unit that goes on your camera. 

The receiver goes with the light, this could be a loose unit or your light may have a receiver built-in. 

The trigger sends a signal to the receiver once the shutter button is pressed. Like switching your tv on with a remote, the remote is the trigger and the tv has a receiver. 


  1. Manual

Manual triggers and receivers are just getting the flash to go off when the shutter is pressed. These units usually don’t have any fancy capabilities. 


  1. TTL

Through the lens. This is an automatic feature that allows the flash to determine through the camera what flash output to use. 

This feature pretty much does the think work for you.

  1. HSS

High sync shutter. Shortly if you don’t want to be limited with your camera settings this is a very important feature. Some triggers will only allow you to shoot a maximum of 1/250 shutter speed which limits you to only adjust your ISO and Aperture to get the needed exposure.

HSS is also dependent on your camera, if your camera does not have this feature getting HSS triggers and flashes won’t work. Some cameras range from 1/4000 and 1/8000 shutter speeds; this is the maximum range the triggers and flashes will use.


  1. Rear Curtain sync

This is a feature that will allow the flash to go off as soon as the shutter is done completing taking the photo. If you are shooting a  very slow shutter speed to capture movement and only want to set the flash to go off and capture the last bit of the movement in focus. This is a key feature.


  1. Studio Triggers & Speedlight triggers

When you shoot in the studio you will generally shoot with manual triggers as most studio lights are manual as well and do not have the TTL and HSS feature. In-studio you are pretty much in control of the lighting and there are little to almost no outside interference or factors you need to work with.



If you are looking at buying Speedlights and Battery-operated studio lights that you will use outside, the TTL and HSS features are important. You will be working with factors outside of your control. For example, the sun, external light sources or you need to think quickly on your feet.

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