The prototype light-induced fluorescence transient (LIFT) instrument provides continuous, minimally intrusive, high time resolution (~2 s) assessment of photosynthetic performance in terrestrial plants from up to 2 m. It induces a chlorophyll fluorescence transient by a series of short flashes in a saturation sequence (180 ~1μs flashlets in <380 μs) to achieve near-full reduction of the primary acceptor QA, followed by a relaxation sequence (RQA; 90 flashlets at exponentially increasing intervals over ~30 ms) to observe kinetics of QA re-oxidation. When fitted by the fast repetition rate (FRR) model (Kolber et al. 1998) the QA flash of LIFT/FRR gives smaller values for FmQA from dark adapted leaves than FmPAM from pulse amplitude modulated (PAM) assays. The ratio FmQA/FmPAM resembles the ratio of fluorescence yield at the J/P phases of the classical O-J-I-P transient and we conclude that the difference simply is due to the levels of PQ pool reduction induced by the two techniques. In a strong PAM-analogous WL pulse in the dark monitored by the QA flash of LIFT/FRR φPSIIWL ≈ φPSIIPAM. The QA flash also tracks PQ pool reduction as well as the associated responses of ETR QA → PQ and PQ → PSI, the relative functional (σPSII) and optical absorption (aPSII) cross-sections of PSII in situ with a time resolution of ~2 s as they relax after the pulse. It is impractical to deliver strong WL pulses at a distance in the field but a longer PQ flash from LIFT/FRR also achieves full reduction of PQ pool and delivers φPSIIPQ ≈ φPSIIPAM to obtain PAM-equivalent estimates of ETR and NPQ at a distance. In situ values of σPSII and aPSII from the QA flash with smaller antenna barley (chlorina-f2) and Arabidopsis mutants (asLhcb2–12, ch1–3 Lhcb5) are proportionally similar to those previously reported from in vitro assays. These direct measurements are further validated by changes in antenna size in response to growth irradiance. We illustrate how the QA flash facilitates our understanding of photosynthetic regulation during sun flecks in natural environments at a distance, with a time resolution of a few seconds.