Oct 092013


Those of you who know me, know that I hate the POP UP flash, if it was up to me, I would removed the thing from every camera there is.  Why I hate POP up flash?

  • If you are not Careful it gives such a bright harsh light, washing out the faces of the subject, making the photo unwatchable and the subject UGLY
  •  Ambient light is always romantic and natural, with pop up flash in the wrong hands it kills the natural light and again the photo looks ugly

So to avoid the above two,  its simple, DONT use POP UP FLASH . But lets face it, there would be conditions where you are forced to use the POP up flash, and to me, only two Scenarios:

(1) The lighting conditions of the place you are in is soo low where your camera and lens cant cope with the low light condition, and as a results, your Shutter speed is registered low value, and when shoot hand held you end up with a SHAKY blurry photo. Hence here you will need your Pop up flash so that you can safely increase your shutter to a value good enough to avoid the shaking i.e. for example shutter of 1/50 and above.

(2) Your subject is situated in a SHADOW area and surrounded by high highlights, e.g., in the middle of afternoon.  And your camera cannot distinguish between the highlights and shadows, and you end up getting a photo where your subjects is dark. This situation is called CONTRASTY situation or the other known term is High Dynamic Range situation (HDR). Thus,  you will need your pop up flash here to introduce what we call a FILL light to light up your subject.

So if you must us a POP UP flash, at least you should know how to control THE POWER OUPUT OF THE flash, so that to avoid that harsh ugly light. And to do that is simple, use your Camera Exposure Compensations (EV+/-) to control the power out put of the flash.

For Nikon is this button


And For Canon is this button



For other Camera, check out your camera manual to know which button is the Exposure compensation.


The Below Three photos of my son, demonstrate the above two situations and how to go about using the Exposure compensation to minimize the Flash Output

(1) This First photo shows a situation where I need a flash, the room is dark and as well, notice on the left side of  my sons face, there is some darkness and shadow that I need to fill some light in that Area



Leica X2, A:2.8, S:1/30, ISO:1600


(2) So I pop up my flash and took a shot, and this what most of us end up getting. Very harsh ugly light (Ring a Bell anyone?)



Leica X2, A:2.8, S:1/60, ISO:1600


(3) Here I used the Exposure Compensation (EV+/-) and reduce the value by -1 Stop. By doing this, the flash out put power have reduce by one stop and ended up getting a better flash, which is not so harsh and the same time, I managed to fill in the dark shadow on his left side


Leica X2, A:2.8, S:1/60, ISO:1600

Thats it, now anytime you need to use a POP up Flash, at least use it with a style and minimize its Ugly strong output, by controlling it using your Camera provided Exposure compensation (EV+/-) Feature. You can either reduce it, to lessen the power of the flash, or increase it in situation you need more flash power.

Please comments and let me know what you thought about this TIP, and if you have any further question regarding this topic, please ask away below and I will get back you as soon as possible.




  9 Responses to “When and How to use your Camera Pop-Up Flash”

  1. A very useful tip well noted down, thanks Salim.

  2. This is a very helpful tip! In the situations you described above, I usually kick up my ISO which has its own problems. Would this tip work for a night shot (where I usually use ISOs of 3200 or 6400 etc.)?

    • The whole point of this is not to kick up the ISO that much, because you have your flash as a source of light now. Just bring it up to a decent value (to a point you dont introduce to much grain to your photo, varies from one camera capability to another).

  3. Very useful tip. I never tried this facility.

  4. Hi Salim,

    Are you familiar with Professor Kobré’s Lightscoop®? It’s a great accessory that slips over your pop-up flash and bounces the light to the ceiling or wall, resulting in a larger source of more natural light — and eliminating that awful bright harsh light, washed-out faces and unattractive shadows that we so often see in flash photos. I’ll email you more info and see if you’d like to give it a try!

    Best, Mary, Lightscoop CEO

  5. same here Mr. Salim. I seldomly use the pop-up flash, And since I seldom use it, I never knew about this camera function until reading this blog. Amazing. Thanks for sharing this it really helped a lot. 🙂

  6. Hi,

    This is very useful information about camera built-in flash. I am having Nikon D5200 Camera. In Menu setting under custom setting we have option bracketing/flash mode inside this camera have Flash cntrl for built-in flash setting next to this we can set TTL or Manual mode. If i select TTL mode than is it required to Exposure Compensation (EV+/-) reduce the value by -1 Stop.


 Leave a Reply

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>




Get every new post delivered to your Inbox

Join other followers: