Nearly all cameras, from your high end SLR’s to disposable cameras have a flash function on them. A necessary evil, flash adds light when necessary, so that even in the darkest scenarios, a decent, sharp photograph can be captured. These days, we have digital cameras so we can see how the flash is doing immediately; too bright or too harsh, we can tweak accordingly to get a better shot.
The top reasons to use flash are:
1. To provide extra light in low light conditions
2. As a fill in on very bright days where the sun casts a shadow on the subject
3. To freeze motion on high speed shots
4. For creative reasons and lighting
5. In studios where the light needs to be controlled
Flash is used in nearly all kinds of photography, although in different ways. A studio photographer may set up a series of flash heads to create a soft flattering light and a wildlife photographer may use it to freeze the wings of a bird in mid flight.
Flash can come attached to a camera or it can come in a separate ‘flashgun’. Sometimes you can use these together. Using a separate flashgun means that you have more control and freedom over your image and the lighting, but it also means that your flash is more powerful. Flashguns can be used off the camera and can be moved around into nearly any part of the image you want.
Newer flashguns have plenty of features that you can play with and you can control the power output down to some very fine features. A dedicated flashgun is a great idea for your first flashgun as this means that your camera and flash can communicate with one another, creating an automated system.
Therefore there are advantages to buying own brand flashguns, although you can also consider manufactures such as Sigma, Metz, Sunpak, and Jessops.
Here are some of the types of flashgun you will find:
1. Manual – the cheapest type of flashgun but they need to be adjusted manually. Not great if you are a beginner but they can work as secondary flashes.
2. Ringflash – these are increasingly popular as they work well for nature and wildlife close-ups as well as for beauty/portraiture shots. These are usually attached to the end of your lens in a ring shape and are fired off a unit that is attached to your hotshoe. These are also quite expensive to buy.
3. Automatic Tilt and Swivel – this is an automatic and most common type of flashgun as it allows you to move the head so you can bounce the flash off walls for a softer look and is automatic too.
4. Hammerhead – this is a professional flashgun which screws into the bottom of the camera where the tripod usually is and the flash is attached to this extended bracket. Therefore the flash is off centre, reducing shadows and red eye.
5. Bulbflash – this is like a lightbulb and can cover 180 – 360 degree angle of views. These are great for indoors and large ground because there is no vignette with this type of even flash.