On-Camera Or Detachable Camera Flash?

May 14, 2010

Flash is a method of providing additional lighting to a scene when there is not sufficient natural light. You can overuse flash, particularly if the camera is set to automatic and activates the flash whenever it decides that there is insufficient light. Digital SLR cameras offer a lot more flexibility for avoiding the use flash when you don’t want to, such as using extensive ISO settings for low levels of lighting.

But when you do need to use flash, digital SLR cameras can be equipped to provide very sophisticated results.

There are basically two types of flash units with cameras. There are the on-camera flash units which are typical with point-and-shoot cameras, and detachable flash units which are common with digital single lens reflex cameras. Before you purchase a camera it would be helpful to know whether or not you may want to use your camera without the flash firing anytime it decides the light is insufficient.

Almost every camera has some form of on-camera flash unit. On DSL cameras, for example, this is normally a pop-up unit on the top of the camera body. It will usually be activated by a button on the body. These types of units do not look like they’re very powerful, but they can provide very effective output and are sufficient for a number of flash uses. The biggest drawback with on-camera flash units is that they are fixed and so can only provide direct, frontal light, which limits the creative uses for the flash unit. This type of flash invariably leaves shadows in unwanted areas of the image.

Compact point-and-shoot digital cameras, of course, have on-camera flash units. When you use this type of camera for portraits then the subject is very likely to wind up with red eye. One of the advantages of a detachable flash is that you can bounce the light so that it is not aimed directly at the subject or the subjects eyes.

Detachable flash units are more powerful and flexible than on-camera flash units, and they should be considered seriously if you intend to make regular use of flash. Detachable flash units are attached via the hot shoe, which is located in the top of the camera body, and they are powered by their own batteries. Be sure and always keep a spare set of batteries handy as these batteries quickly lose their charge.

Some of the advantages of detachable flash units are:

Again, when you are purchasing a camera, think about whether or not you’re going to be using flash and how important it will be to producing the kind of images you are looking for.

Remember, keep taking lots and lots of photographs of your kids. You will be glad you did!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

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One Response to “On-Camera Or Detachable Camera Flash?”

  1. Tweets that mention Which Is Better: On-Camera Or Detachable Camera Flash? | Real Kids Photography -- Topsy.com on May 14th, 2010 5:01 am

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Betty A. Muscott. Betty A. Muscott said: On-Camera Or Detachable Camera Flash?: Flash is a method of providing additional lighting to a scene when there is… http://bit.ly/bixWco [...]

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