When shooting pictures, sometimes natural light is not enough. In which case, we need to use an artificial light source for great image quality. There are many choices – from the built-in flash of the camera to flashguns and studio flashes.
Today I will write a general presentation about the camera flashgun and camera flash types, hoping that this will give you a good idea of what you’ll need to buy to archive the best picture quality.
Camera flash types
Most of the modern cameras have a built-in flash. This is the most basic artificial light a photographer can use, but it is constrained. It is not powerful enough, the subject should be relatively close, and it can not correctly illuminate groups of people – for example. Also, it is not performing well with a very close subject, as in macro photography it will drop the lens shadow in the picture.
With this in mind, well talk about more advanced lighting systems, which will prove to be handy gear for great images.
Hot Shoe flash – flashgun
This is the most popular type of flash. You have a wide range of different models to choose from available from the camera manufacturers or independents, with prices for any budget. The most cheaper (basic models) have more power than a built-in flash and is synchronizing with the camera’s TTL metering and AF, automatically providing the best exposure.
If you care about your budget, I strongly recommend taking a look at Amazon for camera flash types before you adventure into town shops. This can save you cash with no worries – they have to return policy and offer a guarantee as well.
Called like that because of their shape, they are usually attached to the side of the camera with a bracket that screws into the tripod bush. From here on, it works like the flashgun, connects through a wire, and TTL module connector to the camera’s hot shoe to provide AF and TTL metering.
The hammerhead guns offer more mobility than flashguns (tilt and swivel heads) and generally more power. Can be mounted both right or left side of the camera, or on separate tripods to source light as needed. Some of them can trigger the camera so that you can be in control from different locations – don’t necessarily need to be behind the camera at all times when executing shoots.
It can be used with diffusers or reflectors – as required by the task.
Macro flash systems
There are two main flash systems for macro:
Macro flash – are usually high performance. They can provide adjustable light for different angles. The macro flash can shoot continuous or flash, which gives you maximum control over light power and direction that is essential in capturing image details.
This is the most expensive professional gear. But if you can afford it, you’ll soon find out that this investment worth every penny.
Ring flash – is a cheaper alternative but still with excellent results. It comes with adapter rings for different lens diameters and with colored flash diffusers so you can give your picture some lovely color shades. The ring flash offers a shadow-free image. As the flashlight source is mounted on the lens and the light power is low, it is designed for close up pictures.
Please keep in mind that this will not work with the reverse ring technique. As in this specific case, you are reversing the lens to attach them to the camera through the medium of the reverse ring. In which situation, the side of the lens to which we refer when we talk about the ”diameter of the lens” (the location where the ring flash must be mounted) is now already used.
For this scenario, I would recommend a gun flash, hammerhead flash, or a studio flash (with diffusers or reflectors – as needed), or just the natural light when possible.
If you want to read more about macro flash systems, I wrote a post about that.
Studio flashes are designed to give the photographer absolute lighting control for their pictures.
Usually, much higher-powered than flashguns can be used with diffusers and/or reflectors for directing the light as needed.
The studio photographer has the option to use a single light source or multiple heads depending on the task – portraiture, fashion, model, macro, etc.
In the end …
For further understanding of camera flash, please see this video by Michael The Maven, which is very useful for beginners. It is a very informative tutorial about how to use the camera flash for best results, enjoy:
I hope this general presentation helped you to have a better idea about camera flash types, what they do, and from where to buy them at a reasonable price. Don’t get a hurry, think about which are your priorities and buy only if you conclude that you need it.
It is easier and better for your financial life to acquire something later in time when you decide you need extra gear than to buy stuff in the beginning and come later to the conclusion that you have never had a use for that. I did that and lost some money.
My goal is not only to share information but my experience also. For that, I am talking mostly about my mistakes, which I am hoping is a possible way to keep others from doing the same as I’ve done.
Please ask below if you need more information, or comment with anything you may want to add. I am always happy to help and to learn from your experience if you’re happy to share too. Thanks for reading through the end!