I guess you can leave it to Ari Partinen to pull a stunt like this. In case you don’t know him, Ari was the guy surprising the world with his incredible shots from the Nokia 808 PureView last year. When I was still eagerly waiting to test the 808, I took the liberty to share all of his shots in a dedicated set on Flickr - I’m quite sure you’ll know at least a few of them.
Anyway, on a post over at Nokia Conversations, you can read that he and his colleague Marko Saari managed to use “the built-in xenon flash on the Lumia 1020 to trigger the main flashes, to allow them to capture the movement”. I’ll quote from the article from here:
Ari explains: “The flash on the Lumia 1020 has two short pulses. So we used a small external flash as a medium to disable the first pre-flash pulse coming from the Lumia 1020, and then fired the main external flashes only on the second pulse. This made sure the main flashes were synchronized perfectly with the moment we pressed the shutter key on the Lumia 1020.”
“We could have just used bright lights to illuminate the subject and not challenge ourselves with the flash synchronization. But for us, it was important we could capture the movement in the pictures and you can only really do that with a xenon flash.”
When asked how exactly, Ari explaines (and I quote from his reaction on Nokia Conversations again): ”The small external flash had a mode that makes the flash fire only to the second flash pulse that the optical tricker sees. This type of mode is very common in cheap external flashes, because pre-flash is used in practically all point and shoot cameras and slr systems, when not used in manual mode.”
Well, to be honest, I still don’t really get how he did it, but the result is stunning I think. You’ll see several of the shots in the original post, and I’m happy to share the video Nokia published today below: