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Old Mar 9, 2010, 11:10 AM   #1
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Ok this is probably a very silly question... and very subjective... but when should I be using flash and when should I try and avoid it?
I know if the subject is out of the flash range I am better off not using flash as the camera then compensates with iso and shutter speed right?
However not using flash means more blurry shots correct?
When I use flash though sometimes the subject is over exposed.. like you can see a white reflection on them... does that mean I am too close or should I turn down the flash compensation?
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 7:30 PM   #2
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You will get a whole bunch of different answers to the basic question of when to use a flash. My own opinion is that using the flash, esp using the built in little flash, is an act of desperation. Should be avoided if at all possible. Don't do it unless nothing else works.

In particular, using the built in flash means you have lost all other options. And sometimes no other option is available.

If you find yourself in the situation where you must use flash very often, you should look into getting better gear. Ain't cheap, so worth thinking about for a bit.
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 8:04 PM   #3
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Built-in flashes are usually not good for more than the width of an average size room. Most flashes will overexpose if the subject is too close, so in these cases, it is best to use a diffuser to soften the light, or reflector to direct light to ceiling, allowing the ceiling to diffuse it. In either case, you lose a lot of light, and may underexpose your shots. It takes some practice to get to know when to do it.
Your camera will usually tell you when flash is needed - most of them have a little icon of a lightning bolt somewhere in the viewfinder or lcd. When it is red, this means that flash is recommended - it may blink. What it is really telling you is that your shutter speed is to slow to give you a good exposure with the aperture and ISO setting you are using. You may be able to change these to get a good picture.

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Old Mar 9, 2010, 9:01 PM   #4
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thanks for the replies... I guess I will just have to play with it. I noticed that often when I don't use the flash the whole picture is brighter... and you get more of the background lit up... why is that?
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 9:03 PM   #5
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Nech-

There are very positive things about flash: it is consistent, it predictable, the proper White Balance is easily achieved. The average built-in in flash unit on most cameras provide only sufficient light to achieve a Flash Range of only 9 to 12 feet.

Flash Range is defined as the distance between the camera and your subject, measured in feet. Cameras with small, weak built-in flash units like the Panasonic ZR1, ZS1, and ZS3 have a more limited Flash Range of only 6 to 8 feet.

The biggest problem with built-in flash units is that they are inherently very under powered. That results in huge shifts in exposure, leaving very dark, unlighted backgrounds and harsh shadows, because that built-in flash unit is only a peanut sized shaft of light.

The solution or workaround is not popular at all, as Bill Drew mentioned, because adding a Slave Flash to increase the needed light in your photo environment represents an added expense for the camera user. But it works very effectively, eliminating those pitch black backgrounds and harsh shadows.
l
For the question: when to use flash? The answer is easy. Whenever, you are indoors, without appreciable natural light available to light your photo, you will have to use flash. The more flash lighting that you have available, the more natural your photo will look. That is why a Slave Flash is so helpful in adding dependable lighting to your photo environment.

The next question that we usually hear is this: show me how a Slave Flash improves the photo? So please take a look at the attached photo. Notice that there is an absence of harsh shadow, because the Slave Flash added needed light to the photo. This photo was taken at a distance of 30 feet with a Panasonic FZ-28 super zoom camera, using a powerful German made Metz Slave Flash. A Slave Flash also has another added benefit. It increases the Flash Range as well, depending on the power output of the Slave Flash. A powerful Slave Flash, such as the Canon HF-1, can extend the Flash Range out to 20 feet.

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Last edited by mtclimber; Mar 9, 2010 at 9:05 PM.
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 9:25 PM   #6
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Sarah,
Thanks for the explanation... so now... how much is a slave flash and do they work on all cameras? Is there a setting in the camera to tell it to use the slave? Or does the slave fire based on the built in flash firing?
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Old Mar 9, 2010, 9:55 PM   #7
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Nech-

Slave Flashes begin at around $(US)10.00 and go to well over $(US) 150.00. ASlave Flash will work with any camera, because it is triggered by your camera's bulit-in flash unit.

Here is another Slave Flash sample photo taken at a Flash Range of 12 feet with the Samsung SL420 (a $(US)110.00 camera) using an inexpensive slave flash from Zeikos (a large photo distributor) that costs just $(US)10.00.

All you have to do is set the camera to Auto ISO, turn on your camera's built-in flash unit. Then focus the camera normally, and the camera will handle the rest of the details.

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Old Mar 9, 2010, 10:02 PM   #8
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Nech-

Here is a photo of the camera and Slave Flash set-up

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Old Mar 10, 2010, 5:15 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtclimber View Post
nech-

here is a photo of the camera and slave flash set-up

sarah joyce

h o l y c a t s ! ! !
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Old Mar 10, 2010, 7:30 AM   #10
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So Sarah, do you carry around your slave flash with you when you have your camera on a regular basis or do you keep it for special occasions when you know you need more reach? How hard is it to attatch and how long time does it take? Looks like it just screws onto the tripod mount... does the slave flash come with that black holder thing? Again sorry for the silly questions.
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