The camera flash is one of the most significant tools to set a right exposure in order to get realistic results. The built-in flashes serve the lens to take the pictures clearly; the more versatile external flashes help to shoot most difficult shots with ease and added creativity.
Built-in vs. External flashes
Let’s compare the functions of built-in or pop-up flashes to external or accessory flashes.
Often shooting a distant object falls short of the adequate light if you use the built in camera flash of your digital camera. This happens due to the limited power of the bulb fitted in the built in camera flash. However, the external flashes contain more bulb power as compared to the built in flashes, which can shoot the distant or dark objects with much ease. The ability to throw light farther is measured by a flash’s guide number, which equals the aperture (at a given ISO speed) multiplied by the number of feet the flash is from the subject.
At times when camera flash proximity to the subject is desirable, the shadow to the lens caused by the built-in lens may destroy the results of the picture, hence the external flashes become inevitable for perfect pictures. Then in certain situations, the lights are required to be flashed through reflections and bouncing, which can be possible only with the help of swivel and bounce heads offered only by the external heads.
Camera Flash types
Though every camera comes with a built-in camera flash, there are some limitations of such flashing units. The main difficulty with such flash units is that they have a relatively lesser power. Moreover, the position of such flashes is very close to the optical axis of the lens, so there are chances of the picture getting distorted. So, these problems lead many professional and amateur photographers to take resort of the external flashing units. Basically, there are four types of flashguns available with their specialties.
- Built-in/pop-up camera flash – The built-in flash is provided with every digital camera according to the exposure metering, focusing and zoom systems. But, the lack of power affords the shooting range of up to maximum 15 feets, making the long range shooting impossible. Also, as the flash is so close to the camera’s lens, it may cause the redeye effect while shooting a portrait. The redeye effect is caused by the reflection of the flash shining in the subject’s eye that enters the camera’s lens. Then, the built in flashes can’t be bounced or reflected from the walls or ceiling to soften the lighting effect. While shooting the close-ups, the lens can direct a shadow over the subject.
- Dedicated hot shoe-mounted camera flash – The dedicated flashguns are designed to link electronically with your camera’s exposure, focusing, and zoom system. It offers more power than the built-in flash, hence covers larger area. Often, dedicated flashgun comes with swiveling or tilting head for directing bounce flash. The greater distance between flash and lens helps in reducing the redeye effect in the images.
- Hammerhead camera flash – This flash can also be tilted and swiveled like the hotshoe-mounted flashes. But often, it has more power than the hotshoe-mounted guns. Since, this flash can be mounted alongside the camera on brackets located at the side of the camera, it provides a better angle and grip than other flashguns. That is why it is more popular amongst the press photographers.
- Ringflash – The ringflash fits around the camera lens and the round tube produces much softer and more even illumination. It compensates the limitations accruing from other types of flashguns. It is very useful for macro photography.
When to avoid using the flash
The flash should not be used everywhere. It should rather be used in the situations where the unnecessary shadows are required to be eliminated. One such place is when shooting outdoors or under the sunlight.
- While shooting the landscapes, the flash has to be kept off because it would not be effective.
- When there is some reflection in the image such as a glass, mirror, or some other shining object, using straight flash destroys the picture by filling the photo with reflections.
- Shooting dramatic photos in low-light conditions, switch-off the flash as it will just disturb the brightness, so you can use slow shutter in such conditions.
- When shooting at a shorter distance or indoors, you should use other lighting sources such as bulbs, lamps, or open windows because flash would make them look washed out.
- For low-light photo of moving objects such as vehicles or people, the camera should be set at night scenery mode rejecting the usage of flash.
Getting rid of flash flaws
If you want to avoid the most common flash flaws, you follow the tips listed below:
- To decrease the impact of flashlights, you should increase the distance between your camera and the subject while using the zoom lens of your camera to fill the frame.
- To avoid overexposure, you can redirect the flash lights to another surface. This would ensure that you get clearer and adequately exposed pictures.
- You can select the night mode from the mode dial on your digital camera to shoot a picture with slow shutter speed.