When this was typed into our site’s search engine, I immediately became excited. Yes, a flash can fix almost any sort of bad performance with a camera. Lots of new photographers are leery of flash, so they only use constant light and neons. But you can add much more to a scene using a flash. It’s easy to do, and there’s no need for excessive post-production either. Let’s dive into this.
First off, photographers need to understand the flash (otherwise known as a strobe in some circles, or speedlight). Many think you use one when there isn’t enough light. But that’s wrong. Instead, a flash is a creative tool that lets you put light exactly where you need it. In the same way that you’d use prisms, lens filters, etc, you’d use a flash. To better understand it, it’s about adding in light that isn’t there to begin with. Instead of slowing your shutter speed or raising your ISO, you’d use a flash. If you’re at a wedding and photographing someone in front of you, they’re bound to have shadows under their eyes or chin. So by using a strobe and bouncing the light above and behind you, you can illuminate their face. Alternatively, you can bounce the light into their face to fill in those areas.
But a flash can do a whole lot more than that. Want to get the golden hour look? A flash with a gel can do that. Using high-speed sync, you can overpower the sun’s lighting. And when a flash is gelled to an orange color, it can look like a sunset.
Other Ways a Speedlight Fixes the Bad Performance of a Camera
To illustrate further, here’s an essential list of some of the ways a flash can help a camera:
- It helps with autofocus assistance in really low lighting. Flashes have infrared focusing beams that are far larger than those on your camera. The two can work together to ensure that your camera and lens are always in focus. Some of these photos were shot at f1.2, and even then the camera nailed the focus perfectly.
- For rendering colors and details in a scene, flashes ease the camera sensor’s and processor’s workload.
- A flash can help an old camera feel brand new. Your lenses will never look sharper because of the way that specular highlights work.
- Using a strobe, you can keep the high ISO numbers down and use less battery power.
- Even at a higher ISO setting, your flash will help the camera produce less image noise. If you’ve ever used a high ISO setting in good lighting, you’ll see how good the images tend to look. It’s only in the darkest settings where cameras struggle.
- You can position a light to get the look of sun flare. Modern lenses tend to do all they can to suppress lens flare. So why not get it back?
Usually, when folks buy a new or old camera, they think it can do everything. Then they eventually discover that a new lens may be needed. But when you’ve learned how to master lighting and using a flash, you start playing chess instead of checkers. We can’t stress enough how important a flash is.