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Blueberry Nov 3, 2009 12:16 PM

External flash vrs camera flash
Are there times when you would use the flash on your DSLR over an external flash? The only time I can think you would is when you don't have your external flash available.

mtclimber Nov 3, 2009 12:50 PM


The actual physical distance that the flash is away from the lens of your camera makes a real difference in image quality. The consider this as well: I use a whole lot of bounce flash, and that cannot be accomplished with your camera's built-in flash unit.

Have a great day.

Sarah Joyce

JKA Nov 3, 2009 3:07 PM

Hi Sarah,

Can you share your bounce flash setting information with us (settings on camera and on flash unit)?
Thank you very much!


mtclimber Nov 3, 2009 5:03 PM

1 Attachment(s)
This is actually pretty simple. For the attached photo I used my Sony A-230 with the Sony 55-200mm lens attached. The camera was set to Auto ISO. On the A-230 I mounted the Sony HVL-F-56 Flash with the head pointed to the 70 degree position. I made sure I nailed the focus and took a hand held shot with the camera and flash combination. I let the flash and the camera work together to get the photo.

Sarah Joyce

mtclimber Nov 5, 2009 6:21 PM

Frankly, I am blown away by the fact that his thread has not received any answer to my post. I am happy to teach the bounce flash technique, but there does not seem to be much interest.

Sarah Joyce

JKA Nov 5, 2009 10:04 PM

Hi Sarah,
I can understand your point. Knowing bounce flash is not new but the problem is not everyone can master it well. I have asked many professional photographers in the pass on how to resolve my underexposed photos with bounce flash. They told me that whatever I was doing is fine. They are all using fullframe sensor camera for their work but I am not.
I also know that most of us do shoot in raw mode and do a lots of post processing with the underexposed photos. The problem for most of us is the over exposed photos.
I wanted to learn how to take well exposed photos with bounce flash and without doing a lots of post processing.
With tips here and there and keep trying I am hoping that I will be able to do it well some day.
I know you will answer my question, that is why I asked this question on this post.
Please fell free to open a new thread about bounce flash photography or just share your experience with us.
Thank you very much!

mtclimber Nov 6, 2009 12:31 AM

Hi there, Joe-

Bounce flash is really rather subjective. You might be able to make a rather precise evaluation about the proper exposure, based on what you see on your LCD screen. But what is more likely is that the same LCD screen is going to surprise you. When you pull up the image that you captured with your camera. You mutter something akin to OMG (oh my gosh!) as what you viewed on your LCD screen and what you see when you pull up the image on your computer are indeed entirely different.

Well, the obvious question is how do we solve that rather wide disparity? well for starters, you take what you see on your LCD screen and then temper it with the result that you are expecting when you pull the image up on your computer.

No, that is NOT an instant thing, it is sort of a learned thing. But sooner or later you will nail that bounce flash exposure quite well. It takes practice..

There you have all the how to do's. It is not a perfect science by any measure. Good Luck!

Sarah Joyce

Mark1616 Nov 6, 2009 1:59 AM


Originally Posted by Blueberry (Post 1015999)
Are there times when you would use the flash on your DSLR over an external flash? The only time I can think you would is when you don't have your external flash available.

You have answered this question correctly yourself, on-board flash is horrible so I would only use in an emergency.

JKA Nov 6, 2009 10:37 AM

Hi Sarah,
I am getting better results with helps from this forum and others.
Colour white balance is my main problem. After using 5500K, 1/125 second settings. TTL flash mode and 75 degree tilt flash head, the image is much better now for front bounce photo.
I will try the sides and back bounce next.
Thank you very much!

JohnG Nov 6, 2009 11:32 AM


Getting good flash results whether bounced or direct isn't always easy. For starters, not all cameras are equal with regards to how well their flash systems work. Pentax isn't as good as Canon and Canon isn't as good as Nikon for example. The better the system the less work you as the photographer need to do.

Underexposure with flash use is usually a result of inaccurate metering by camera/flash OR not powerful enough for the job. On the metering side of things, it's helpful to gain an understanding of how your particular camera's flash system meters a scene. Just like a camera's metering system for exposures. When you understand how the system meters the scene you can identify extremely light/dark elements in a scene which might skew that metering. In some systems you can force the camera/flash to meter off the center focus point, lock in that meter reading and then you can recompose. For example, with a Canon DSLR this feature is called Flash Exposure Lock (FEL) - take the scene of a bride in white and groom in black. You can point the center point at a face, hit the FEL button and the camera/flash will meter off that face. Now you don't have to worry about the white dress or black tux skewing the metering as much.

With the power aspect - it's a matter of understanding if you bounce light the light has further to travel and it will get more dispersed. So if your subject is 20 feet away a direct flash might have no problems illuminating your subject. But if you're bouncing that light off a 30' ceiling now the flash is traveling some 60 feet instead of 20 (more than 60 but I'm not about to figure out the geometry :) ).

Overexposures are a result of either improper metering - see above or the subject being close. Remember when you bounce at an angle some of the light is hitting your subject directly and some of it bounced. The closer your subject is to you the more light will hit them directly and it's intensity will be greater than the bounced light.

Also - one thing to keep in mind - as your batteries get lower you'll get less consistency in flash results as the flash doesn't get properly charged. So if you start seeing some eratic behavior in your flash exposures from shot to shot it might be a good sign you need to change the batteries.

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