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Canon camera with flash on

How to Set-Up the Flash?

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If you consider the flash of your digital camera just another built-in function, honestly, you’re missing a lot in the world of photography. Flash photography is the type of photography itself. Using the external flash (pop-up flash) properly, you can see visible improvements in your footages.

It illuminates the subjects properly in low light situations, helps balance exposure, and opens the creativity window.

The former function – illuminating the subject- is pretty obvious, but even photographers usually miss out on this tiny function’s creative potential.

Besides reaping the benefits of built-in flash, professional photographers mostly upgrade and invest in an external flash too.

External flashes can work beyond the limitations of built-in flash, but they require an investment – you have to buy them separately.

Whereas built-in flash is inside every digital camera, from the cheapest one to the expensive one.

This article will focus on flash photography using the built-in flash, ways to set the flash, and some tips and tricks to step-up your photography using it.

What is Flash Photography?

As the name shows, flash photography is where a built-in electronic flash or an external flashbulb/light illuminates the insufficiently lit subject.

Low light photography

A digital camera produces a flash of artificial light typically with-in 1/1000 to 1/200 of a second, depending upon the camera. This lightning is at a color temperature of about 5500 K.

Here is how a flash can help you in your photography:

  • Illuminating the subject with clean, bright light
  • Balance the exposure in low-light situations. It helps to export the perfect exposure.
  • You can use the built-in flash to minimize or get rid of unwanted shadows in your footage.
  • Adds up creativity. For example, for motion photography, you can use flash with slow shutter speed to add a half-frozen impression, highlight the subject to add an artistic touch, achieve window style lightning effect at any time of the day, and add dramatic effect, Cetera.
  • Gives you control over brightness.
Built-in flash settings

How to Set-Up the Flash?

Setting up a camera flash and using it properly is no big deal. In fact, it is pretty simple.

There are two basic ways you can use this feature: auto mode and by using manual mode.

Here are the ways to set these modes and optimize their outputs:

Auto Flash

In this mode, the built-in camera light meter evaluates the light in the surroundings and produces the flash output when it feels the requirement.

It also analyzes the aperture settings and ISO value to give the correct exposure.

External flash control

From flash intensity to the timings, everything is interpreted by the camera automatically.

Automated flash comes in handy in some situations, especially for beginners.

But in the end, the camera isn’t intelligent enough to know what you are looking for.

Sometimes it can cast an unwanted lightning effect in your images. If you are a beginner and don’t know about manually setting flash, go for auto mode.

But if you are trying to get creative with exposure, go for manual or TTL mode.

Manual Flash Mode

Manual mode gives you more control over the flash and allows you to use it more creatively.

Instead of allowing the camera to automatically lit the subject and sometimes giving you the results you didn’t want, you control flash and use it when you feel necessary.

Manual flash settings are pretty easy to pick-up. Using the manual flash properly, you can also enhance and adjust the exposure triangle elements (ISO, Aperture, and Shutter Speed).

External flash settings

Manual mode is represented with ‘M.’ Some cameras have dedicated flash wheels or buttons; otherwise, you can find it in your settings.

Manual flash mode allows to reduce or increase the amount of flashlight intensity, unlike auto mode, which turns on and off exposure automatically to adjust the exposure.

The 1/1 power setting will output the full power of the flash.

The 1/2 power setting will output half the power of the flash and so on.

Once you set the flash’s intensity manually, it will stay the same until you turn it off or change the flash intensity again manually.

Factors influencing Manual Flash

If you are using manual mode, your aperture settings, shutter speed, depth of field et cetera affect the manual flash.

Aperture influences the most when it comes to the brightness of the flash. Aperture controls the amount of light passing from the lens and reaching the lens.

Flash zoom

Higher aperture, less light entering the camera, and vice versa. On higher aperture, less light entering the camera, making flash more effective.

More light reaches the sensor on a low aperture, making the flash less effective, especially if it is on the lower intensity.

Another manual setting highly impacting Manual flash setting is shutter speed (time for which the camera’s shutter is open).

Long shutter speed, more light exposure. Lower shutter speed, less exposure.

Shutter speed does not directly affect the flash exposure, but it does affect continuous ambient light, room light, or daylight.

So it is necessary to take into account this setting too before setting the flash illumination setting manually. 

Shooting low light photography

Setting flash on manual mode:

  • Find your perfect composition and ambient exposure by setting the aperture, f-stop, and shutter speed.
  • If your camera has a flash meter, check the intensity of the flash. Set it on your desired intensity.
  • Using a camera without a light meter, set the flash intensity, and check the exposure.
  • In the case of a brighter image, lower and setting, and if the image is too dark, increase the flash intensity.

Mastering manual mode

Honestly, there is only one way to do so: PRACTICE! Try flash on different intensities with different manual settings.

Experimenting with your digital camera’s flash will allow you to add creativity and dramatic effects to your footage and explore different settings that work the best as per the shooting situation.

Some Other Built-in Flash Modes:

Red-Eye Reduction

The type in which there is a pre-flash before the main flash reduces the unwanted red light effect in the subject’s eye.

It is a semi-manual mode. You have to turn it on, and after that, it will work on its own.

Flash control

Fill Flash

It focuses and fills the darker area of images, such as a subject with the sun behind them.

It works the same semi-manual way as the previous model.

Slow Sync

This mode allows the photographer to fire the flash at a slower shutter speed and make low-light shooting, especially night photography, much better.

Suppressed Flash

Using this mode turn off the flashlight.


Besides illuminating the subject, there are several other benefits of using the flash of your digital camera.

All you need to do is practice and experiment with your flash! It will allow you to get professional-looking results as well as add creativity to your footages.

Automated flash settings can produce good results, but it isn’t always the case. Instead, sometimes, the auto mode can add undesired effects and ruin the image.

To avoid such issues, get images with desired exposure, and add creative effects, you should try manual and semi-manual flash modes.

Studio lights

Setting flash manually is as simple as setting your digital camera’s simplest setting, but it produces great results.

Red eye-reduction, fill flash, slow sync, and others are amazing flash modes that require little to no effort to set but help achieve great output and reduce post-production work.

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