Semi-professional and entry-level DSLR cameras usually have built-in pop-up flash units. In low light environments you can use the built-in flash to add some additional light on your subjects. However, there is a problem with built-in flashes. They fire direct and harsh light that does not look very good, in some situations and especially on people. We will give you the answer in this short article to the question: when should you use the in-built flash on your DSLR.
Flash photography is an art form and not just for shooting in low-light conditions. New DSLR cameras come with exceptionally high ISOs. But flash photography isn’t dead just because they make it possible to shoot in virtual darkness.
For a beginner photographer it might be difficult at first to master flash photography and confusing to understand the pro jargon such as remote triggers, flash exposure, and rear curtain sync. However, learning how to use the in-built flash on your DSLR camera really isn’t as complicated as you may think. A little flash light can make a great difference to your shots, whether you’re using more complex multiple off-camera flash techniques in order to achieve arty effects or just your in-built pop-up flash to eliminate shadows from portraits.
There are products on the market that allow you to diffuse the light coming out of your in-built flash. However, we don’t recommend those products for the following reasons:
· It is difficult to redirecting the light from the in-built flash.
· Your in-built flash is pretty weak as if you try to diffuse its light you will lose plenty of it.
· It is not necessary to waste money on products that are not going to give you considerably better results.
Instead to waste money on a flash diffuser, we recommend you to try some simple light bouncing by using a piece of paper. For instance, when shooting indoors, you can simply hold a large letter-size piece of paper in front of your in-built flash when you take a picture. If your image is underexposed you can try increasing your camera ISO to help with exposure or increase the flash power by using flash compensation on your camera.
You can also your in-built flash as fill-flash outdoors. These are the situations when you’ll find your pop-up flash the most helpful. For instance, when you shoot against bright backgrounds you might end up with an underexposed subject and a properly exposed background. In these situations you can use your in-built flash to improve the results, since your flash light will lit your subject’s face.
Most new DSLR cameras can control the way the in-built flash fires. For instance, on Sony and Nikon DSLR models you have at least three options, rear curtain sync, front curtain sync, and slow curtain sync. In case of Canon DSLR cameras and some other brands, the rear curtain sync is called “2nd curtain sync”.
On all DSLR cameras the Front Curtain Sync is the default setting. In this setting the in-built Flash fires a pre-flash to analyze what flash power should be used and then, at the beginning of the exposure, immediately fires the main flash.
When using the Rear Curtain Sync the DSLR camera fires a pre-flash at the beginning of the exposure and the main flash at the end.
In Slow Curtain Sync setting the camera fires both the pre-flash and the main flash at the beginning of the exposure. The difference between this setting and and front curtain sync, is that the camera in Aperture Priority and Auto modes slows down the shutter speed when using slow curtain sync.
Always remember though that flash is an art form in itself – just look at the images from this Kent based wedding photographer and you will see exactly what I mean – http://www.funkypixel.co.uk/ – it can takes years to learn how to use flash properly, so don’t be dismayed by your early attempts.