Flash 101 part 2

Hm…today iam very not in the mood…even skip the class…now i cant even sleep..so i decided to continue for FLASH 101 part 2. Same as before, i would like to give the credit to “Curtis N the Master Flasher” the writer of this article. For those who has missed the previous article FLASH 101 part 1, you can go HERE: FLASH 101 part 1.

You can either read this in my post or you can directly go HERE for the original article. For those who like to read it here, please do continue.


A beginner’s guide

Many cameras, including some fairly expensive DSLRs, have a built-in (pop-up) flash unit, as well as a hotshoe for an attached flash unit. Beginners often ask why or if they should buy a separate flash attachment, and this tutorial is designed to answer that question.Which flash should I get for my EOS camera?

I wanted to include some sample images before I posted this, but since I don’t know if/when I’ll ever get that done, I decided to go ahead with the text.

We’ve all seen pictures of people whose eyes have that diabolical red glow. It can ruin an otherwise very good shot. It is caused by light reflecting off the retina in the back of the eye. This phenomenon is worst when the subject’s pupils are dilated (indoors), and when there is a narrow angle between the light source (flash), eye, and lens. Geometrically, the two factors which affect this angle are the distance between the flash and the lens, and the distance between the camera and the subject’s eyes. One way to avoid this problem is to move the flash further from the lens. The more distance there is between the flash and the lens, the further away the camera can be from human subjects without causing red eyes. Typically, a hotshoe-mounted flash unit will be twice as far from the lens as a “pop-up” unit. A flash bracket can be utilized to make this distance even greater.

The effective distance of any flash is dependent upon the aperture and ISO setting used. For example, at f/8 and ISO 100, the built-in flash on today’s DSLRs will be effective only if your subject is within about 5 feet of the camera. Of course, you can increase this range by opening up the lens and/or using a higher ISO setting, but that comes at a cost – less depth-of-field and more digital noise. A good flash unit has about fifteen times the power of a built-in unit, with perhaps four times the effective distance. This allows the use of smaller apertures (for better depth-of-field) and lower ISO settings (to reduce digital noise). Power is also critical for bounced flash and fill flash in sunny conditions.

The ability to point the flash at a wall or ceiling will do more for the quality of flash photographs than just about anything else. It can mean the difference between a harsh-looking “snapshot” and a pleasing photograph that doesn’t even look “flashed”. Illuminating the ceiling has the effect of making the light source much larger, creating softer shadows, a brighter background, and more natural-looking results. The power required for this technique varies widely according to the height and color of the ceiling and other factors, but even with a low, white ceiling it can require as much as four times the power of direct flash. With direct flash, you’re lighting up your subject. With bounced flash, you’re lighting up the whole room!

There are a wide range of “diffusers” and other attachments which somehow modify the direction of some or all of the photons flying out of the flash unit. They can be as simple as a 3 x 5 index card and rubber band. Other attachments include the Lumiquest Promax System, mini softboxes, the Sto-Fen Omni-bounce, and the Lightsphere II. They all work a little differently and they each have their place. Generally they are designed to make the light source larger from the subject’s perspective, or to provide some direct illumination with bounced flash. Another completely different modifier is the Better Beamer, which creates a powerful, narrow beam for long-distance wildlife shooting. When used properly, flash modifiers can dramatically improve flash photographs, but you need a flash unit to use them.

Flash brackets come in a variety of styles and serve a dual purpose. In addition to moving the flash unit further from the lens (see reason #1), they also allow the camera to be rotated to vertical orientation while keeping the flash above the lens. This prevents those ugly side shadows on backgrounds which otherwise ruin vertical shots when using a hotshoe-mounted flash indoors. Some styles work by flipping the flash unit, keeping it oriented the same way as the camera. These allow the flash to be zoomed with the lens to avoid wasting light (and power) with direct flash. Other styles allow the camera to rotate while the flash remains over the camera. These make it easier to change orientation while mounted on a tripod, and they work better with some flash modifiers such as the Lumiquest Promax System. Use of a flash bracket requires a sync cord to electrically connect the flash to the camera.

Most good flash units have additional features not available with the built-in. They include:
1)A focus assist light – This light casts a pattern of lines on your subject to allow the autofocus system to work better in low light situations.
2) FP Flash (high speed sync) – This enables the use of high shutter speeds. If you’re using fill flash outdoors and want to use a wide aperture to blur the background, FP Flash is a necessity.
3)Manual mode – This allows you to set and adjust the flash unit’s power, rather than relying on automatic flash metering, and also enables the use of optical slaves. It’s more of an advanced option, but sooner or later you’ll find it useful.
4)Wireless E-TTL – Allows the use of multiple flash units at various power ratios in a master/slave arrangement with E-TTL flash metering.

To summarize, today’s Digital SLRs are packed with amazing technology, and with the right lenses they can produce wonderful images. But the built-in flash units on these cameras are lacking in power, too close to the lens, can’t be tilted for bounce flash and can’t be used with flash modifiers. In short, they rarely produce anything better than “snapshot” quality. Their usefulness is so limited that high-end professional camera bodies don’t even have a built-in flash.

My recommendation to people who buy a DSLR is to buy a good flash unit for it as soon as funds allow. While there are many types of photography that don’t require flash, most beginners photograph people more than any other subject. Flash can improve just about any “people” shot, whether indoors or outdoors. Before you buy another lens, before you get that fancy tripod or any other accessory, buy a good flash unit!


I hope this information will gave you all, the basic idea of why we should buy a separate flash attachment instead of  just using the build in pop-up flash unit. By putting this article, doesn’t means that I am a good flash photographer, I myself is a beginner and just wanna share the information that I think is good for us (beginner a.k.a noob) :p. So, that is all fot today, for those who find this article is good, and would like to continue for next chapter, just wait for my next post for Flash 101 part 3 and part 4. Or for those who cant wait, you can just visit
HERE and search in the Flash forum in the POTN (photography-on-the-net)

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