Are you trying to decide whether or not to go Strobist?
There are many different reasons why external flashes are favored over the cameras built-in flash unit. One of the biggest benefits would be the power. An internal camera flash has limited options and adjustability. While you can make use of compensation, it still does not help in how far the light can cover. Most on camera – built-in flashes lose effect at approximately 5-15 ft. An external flash has greater output and so its light can travel further. This is often critical when you’re shooting moving subjects as well as subjects outside which might be further away. You can also benefit from greater depth of field.
An internal or built-in flash cannot be moved. An external flash is not as close to the camera lens, even when attached to the cameras hot shoe mount. This helps to minimize red eye occurrences and that “Polaroid” appearance. Adjusting the flash to bounce light off objects can certainly benefit the quality of light to your subject. This makes the picture to look more pleasing and natural. The actual flash piece can be removed from the digital camera by using an external cord or wireless flash triggers, allowing for more creativity with your photos. Besides infant triggering options the available accessories are mind staggering. Prickly anything made for expensive studio systems are available for external flash systems. Including; softboxes, beauty dishes, gels, snoops and barn doors, just to name a few.
Your camera flash unit requires much more time to recycle for subsequent pictures. When you’re shooting a subject that is moving or changing positions, a faster recharge time can make a visible difference. Sometimes a subject that is actually in focus may look fuzzy when using a built-in flash. Most high-end external flashes have optional high energy power supplies. These power supplies can shorten your recycle time to just seconds and provide consistent light all day long. Using external flashes will not drain your cameras battery as on camera flashes do.
There are numerous controls for the external camera flashes (Guide Number, Fill / TTL, Manual). All these features provide freedom as well as creativity to control the quality. The most common setting utilized is called TTL. This is when the cameras computer works along with the flash to analyzing precisely how much light is required to on any given subject. Of course this is calculated within milliseconds and through the lens, so the light delivered to your subject is perfect. Manual mode is also used to increase the distance of the flash and quite often as a fill light, outside in bright sunlight.
Today we see more camera manufactures that offer external flash equipment, which works in conjunction with the camera, yet remotely, with or without cables. Canon calls this eTTL, Nikon calls it iTTL. Both systems offer the ability to control the flash remotely, from the cameras menu. Both send a signal to the flash via an inferred, direct line of site beam. The down side to the inferred system is distance between camera and flash. Plus you need to be careful to insure no obstacles are blocking your line of site path, or the flash may not function.
External flashes can range in price from $50 to several hundred dollars per flash unit. If you’re a strictly amateur photographer, you’ll surely need to keep using the on camera flash. On the other hand, if you’re a soon-to-be professional photographer, you will want to save some money and choose the external flash.
Our gorgeous cover model; Michelle, may be reached through Don. Michelle’s cover photo was supplied by: Don od Ronin Photo Design.
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I'm a Northern California Professional Photographer, based just outside San Francisco California. I specialize in commercial product advertizing and architectural. I have been working with Bay Area modeling agencies for more then 10 years, shooting portfolio development for models and high-end makeup artists. I am highly creative and always unique. I shoot cutting edge projects in the studio and on location. Dave
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