Photo tricks. Part 8.

In this part of the photo tricks again the features of working with the flash.

Photo tricks. Part 8

Photo tricks. Part 8

Manual flash power

When using the flash in manual flash control mode (also denoted by the letter “M”), the flash is set to light output in fractions of the maximum allowable flash output. You can experiment, on most CZKs there is the possibility of setting the power even of the built-in flash in manual flash mode. So, a power of 1 \ 4 indicates that the flash will work only at a quarter of the full power, and 1 \ 32, which is one thirty-second of the full power. 1 \ 1 is full power... The larger the share, the more powerful the impulse will be. I come across very often the fact that people think that a flash just works with a given power and always gives the same “flash”. But this is not the case, the flash controls its output, especially in TTL flash modes.

Flash in M ​​and TV (S) camera modes

Usually the built-in and external flash are used indoors in manual flash mode M. The camera is usually set to one of the modes P, S, M, A... In S modes (TV - priority excerpts) and M (manual mode) it is very convenient to use the flash, as you can set a short shutter speed. In poor lighting conditions, such as indoors, when using the aperture priority mode, most cameras set the flash exposure to 1 \ 60 seconds. This is not always convenient, since when shooting with a telephoto lens, for example, with an 85mm fix, you can allow blurring of the background or moving objects due to 1 \ 60 hand shake or normal movement in the frame of what we are shooting. But in S (TV) and M modes, you can set the desired shutter speed, and the automation or the photographer will adjust the flash pulse to the desired exposure. Yes, 1 \ 60 is almost always the limit for automation when working with the flash in dark conditions.

Important: Nikon cameras can only be set to longer excerpts, for example, 1 \ 30 c when working with the flash, but who needs them? For Canon Cameras You can set the flash exposure to 1 \ 200 s and forget about this inconvenience.

Important: Do not confuse manual flash control with manual camera “M”. And yet, 1 \ 60 is such an inconvenience only in really bad lighting.

In fact, if you use both the camera and the flash in manual mode, then the camera will get the same amount of light at the same flash power at any normal shutter speeds from 30s to 1 \ 200s. In fact, if we shoot for 1 \ 15s with the same flash power in dark conditions, then the light that the camera will receive will have the same amount if we shoot for 1 \ 160s with the same flash power. This effect is due to the fact that the flash itself lasts a very, very short time, about 1 \ 1000s. This is one of the main advantages of using both the camera and flash in manual mode. In S mode (TV, priority excerpts) the camera itself selects the aperture value, and often this is the maximum allowable value for the lens, which is not always suitable for a given idea. To use the flash at shutter speeds below a certain thresholdneed to use high speed sync.

Personal experience:

The problem of 1 / 60th of a second in aperture priority is really a very inconvenient thing. At the same time, the S mode is not a panacea, since the automatic opens the aperture to the maximum. Only mode M remains, in mode M at a given shutter speed and the aperture, the camera adjusts exactly the flash power so that it is normal Exposition (at the same time, the flash should work in automatic mode). I always use this when filming in nightclubs, restaurants, on weddings etc. In general, playing with exposure is a very good training for a photographer, I advise you to look at the article. Exposition.


Working with flash is always a good workout for the brain. As usual, I advise you to do your own experiments, especially with manual flash output.

 Thank you for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

Add a comment: Michael



Comments: 97, on the topic: Photo tricks. Part 8.


    Good afternoon. Tell me, nikon d5200 I want to photograph the starry sky. I put the manual mode (m), and how can I turn off the flash. Software it does not turn off.

    • Twilight_Sun

      At 5200, the built-in flash closes with a finger. Closed = Off. Normal can be removed.

  • ioanych

    Just shut the built-in flash, and do not install an external flash :).

  • Andrei

    Good article!!! And the instructions for the camera say: Using an external flash in TTL mode, the flash always fires at full power!
    And for some reason I even use the camera in manual mode and the flash in TTL shutter speed changes to 200 (even if I set to 300)

  • Michael

    The camera is set to M mode. Flash external manual - no TTL and auto. How does the camera-flash link work in this case? Will the camera itself dose the external flash output based on the set ISO, aperture and distance to the subject? Or the flash will simply give out the set power and the photographer will have to select the exposure by setting the power, or by changing the aperture, making test shots, i.e. "By typing"?

  • Vic

    I reread the article many times, but still did not fully understand it. The fact that in TTL mode the flash adjusts the power itself is understandable. And in the M mode, it also selects the power within the power limited by me, for example, within the limits of up to 1/4 of the specified maximum, or will it always “beat” exactly with the power of 1/4? I was confused by Arkady's phrase at the end of the first paragraph, or rather the word “Especially” - “I come across very often the fact that people think that a flash just works with a given power and always gives the same“ flashes ”. But this is not the case, the flash controls its output, this is especially important in TTL flash modes. ”But still: does the flash control its output in manual mode (up to the specified output), or not? thanks

    • Arkady Shapoval

      It is logical that at a given power the flash works with the set value.

      • Vic

        Arkady, thank you very much!

  • Radik

    Hello Arkady, I did an experiment with a flash (Nikon D3200 camera), and in the end I got the following results: a flash in TTL mode itself adjusts the flash output; flash in Manual mode always gives the power set in the settings. But as I understood from the text, it is in the Manual (manual) mode that the flash should regulate the power, so my question is: when you wrote about the manual mode, did you mean the TTL mode? If not, explain why the flash does not adjust the power in Manual mode as described in the article.

    • Arkady Shapoval


    • Arkady Shapoval

      Needless to say, it was about the automatic mode, otherwise, for a given flash output, it will adjust :)

      • Radik

        Thank you so much and like VKontakte for clarification :)

      • Maksim

        It's just that this idea is really not quite correctly formulated in the article. I was also confused at first ...

    • Sergey Akimenko

      Hello. help I can not set the shutter speed shorter than 1/200 when the flash camera nikonD3200.

      • Roman

        And don't install. For shorter exposures, an external flash with HSS - high speed synchronization support is needed. But the camera should be able to do it, and the Nikon 3xxx series (and, it seems, the 5xxx series too) cannot do it.

        In principle, shutter speeds of less than 200 are rarely needed when shooting with flash. This is shooting fast moving objects, splashes of water and the like. For all other purposes, either reducing the flash output (-1, -2 exposure levels) or the ND filter on the lens will help.

      • Arkady Shapoval

        It should not be shorter

  • Oleg

    Sat 700 gives me 2 puffs, one at the beginning the other at the end with a long exposure (1sec) - why?

    • Maksim

      Apparently the flash mode is TTL on the rear curtain. In this case, the first puff is for metering and it does not affect the exposure of the frame, because occurs before the shutter opens, and the second puff is the worker, on the rear curtain!
      When working on the front curtain, there will also be two puffs, only at the beginning. The first also before the shutter is opened for metering, and the second immediately after the shutter is opened. At the same time, they will seem like one puff, because happen very fast one after another!

  • santeam

    My Nikon D80 in A, when the flash is turned on (both built-in and external) and there is a lack of light, it sets 1/60 regardless of the min. excerpts in autoiso. And abruptly “refuses” from 1/60 only when there is enough light (for example, in a dimly lit room, redirect the camera to the light). Those. to shoot indoors with flash and 1/125 or shorter, I use M mode as you recommend.
    A D5100 in the same conditions in A can set min. shutter speed selected in autoiso! those. 1/125 right in mode A (but not shorter than 1/200, because it does not have FP).

    • Dmitriy

      If set to auto-iso 1/250 will sync to 1/200. It works even if auto-iso is disabled, the main thing is to set the shutter speed limit in the iso settings. Thus, 1/200 can be used in aperture priority.


    Arkady, the manual for Sat 910 says that in the TTL mode the reflected light is measured and, accordingly, the heat of the camera is produced by the camera on the basis of preliminary pre-arches, therefore we do not need to regulate the flash power in theory, in other non-TTL modes there are no such pre-arms and we just we adjust the flash power, but in auto mode I don’t quite understand how the flash works, on the basis of which the camera receives information about the power of puff

  • Maria

    Hello! I got myself a puff of nikon 910 (I’ll say right away I didn’t want the latest model because the beginner but I had no choice) I shoot on the flash in manual mode 1/4, the lens 50f1.8 c on the camera, shutter speed 1/200 and 1/200 f from 2.8-4 the Nikon D 90 camera. Such a problem when shooting the camera works faster than the puff, that is, the puff thinks and then only the pulse accordingly the frame runs away (when moving objects) I don’t understand why I have more than one instant impulse but how would you two? Thanks no one else to turn to! On a puff on the first curtain stands.

  • Oleg

    Canon 1100D camera, Canon 540EZ flash. A-TTL flash mode does not support.
    In TTL mode, is the power set by camera exposure?
    Is it possible to somehow activate the A-TTL mode in cameras with E-TTL.

  • Serge

    (“For Canon cameras, you can set the flash speed to 1 \ 200 s and forget about this inconvenience.”)…. How so? even in d3100, adjust 1/200 !!!

  • Anatoly no.

    Hello. I got a Soligor TIF340 af zoom flash on occasion. But I don’t know how to set up my 5100. He doesn’t want to recognize it and the frames are all highlighted. I tried in all modes. I can experimentally select the shutter speed, iso and aperture, and take a normal photo. But you can configure the camera itself to interact. Thank you for your work on the site! It’s great!

  • Saintleg

    Arkady, good day! without exaggeration, I “graze” in the open spaces of your blog every day, for which many thanks to you!

    The flash question is as follows: SB-800 puff, TTL mode, IR illuminator on, D5100 camera, A mode, 50 / 1,8G glass, M / A focusing. AF-C focusing, release priority, dynamic AF area mode, spot metering, manual focus point adjustment. shooting conditions: room during the day, hunting for a trouble-free son. the impression is that AF misses ... turned off the spotlight, better, adjust the focus manually and click about 10 frames in a row. when viewed on a computer, there are misses. I do not want to sin on the back focus of the glass. what else would you advise to pay attention to ?? while writing, I thought about focusing priority for AF-C ...

  • anonym

    Help me to understand!? nikon d80 when you turn on the built-in flash! And shutter speed shorter than 1/200 can not be changed! ?? How and what to do !? Thanks everyone for the answer!

    • Lynx

      1. Buy external.
      2. Shoot no shorter than 1/200.
      3. read about “sync timing”. at least in the instructions for the camera

  • Alma

    Good afternoon. Have you encountered such a problem in a flash? I have a Nikon SB700, I shoot in the M mode of the camera, when I connect the flash, it first makes 3 clicks (chk, chk, chk) and then it only works. I tried other camera modes AUTO, U1, U2 in these modes it works normally, with one click. (Camera Nikon D7100)

    • Victor

      Try disabling TTL mode

  • Vladimir

    Hello, I ran into such a problem - in manual mode, with the minimum possible power of 1/128, a strong overexposure is obtained, I switch to TTL and everything is fine. How can I reduce the flash output below 1/128? ISO, aperture and shutter speed didn't change naturally

    Godox TT685f Flash (Fuji Version), Fuji X T3 Camera

  • Eugene M.

    Good afternoon, Arkady, colleagues.

    Can you tell me if the Nikon system has the ability to manually control the power of the on-camera flash (not supporting CLS) from the camera menu? Similarly, how can you control the power of the built-in flash?

    In theory, a lot of information is transmitted from the camera to the flash via the TTL protocol, it can be assumed that there should be no special problems transmitting the power value. But so far I have not come across a description of such a function. Perhaps no one needs this or Nikon is more profitable to promote native CLS-enabled flashes.

    I want to try remote photo sessions using a program like DslrDashboard, but I found only two options to control the flash from the camera menu - TTL (and the model's eyes closed due to preflash) or Nikon CSL (the need to purchase flashes with CLS support).

    • Michael

      Nikon's camera flashes cannot be controlled from the menu at all. All control is carried out on the flash. This can be done by Canon through the menu

  • Alexey

    Nikon d200 + sb-800: before shooting, the flash gives three puffs, this slows down the shooting process, please tell me how to turn it off?

    • B. R. P.

      Red-eye reduction?

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