ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Why you may Need a Flashgun/Speedlight for your DSLR

Updated on November 7, 2012
Flashgun/Speedlight with an Omni-Bounce Diffuser attached.
Flashgun/Speedlight with an Omni-Bounce Diffuser attached. | Source

The plight of the pop up flash

A pop up flash is a useful inbuilt feature of a D-SLR camera, and can provide basic fill in light applications. However, there are some significant limitations that you’ll encounter when using a pop-up flash as your only option for an on-camera light source, especially if you’re seeking to greatly improve your pictures.

These inbuilt pop up flashes aren’t included in the designs of higher end D-SLRs.. Cameras such as the Canon 5D & 1D Series and the Nikon D600, D800s, D3s and D4 have a profound ability to capture details in low light situations -- greatly reducing the need for fill in flash/light. Entry level and prosumer cameras most times never have a full frame sensor like that of pro cameras, and may require more fill in light which can be accessed via the pop up flash.

Need for Artificial Lighting

But there is need for artificial lighting in a number of situations, regardless of what level camera you have. Even if your style is more documentary and photojournalistic, you will still come upon situations where you need a versatile fill in light or even a main light from your own emitted source.

Flashguns are more powerful than pop up flashes

Flashguns, otherwise called speedlights or small flash units, are simply much more powerful than pop up flashes.Typically, the intensity of a pop up flash may be effective up to about 3 feet, whereas flashguns may emit effective light from about 9 to 10 feet. This means that you don't have to stay close to your subject to provide illumination if you are using a flashgun. Actually, you can have your flashgun off camera and nearer to your subject that the actual camera is so as to maintain a consistent exposure for all your images.

Use the bounce light technique with flashguns

Bounce flash is a powerful technique that can be used to mimic the fall of natural light on a subject. It’s not easy to achieve this natural effect with a pop up flash, as you will need to utilize other accessories and material. And even if you can get some amount of bouncing light, the power will not carry much. With a flashgun, you have the option to tilt and shift the head to point the light in several directions -- even behind you! Bouncing light from off neutrally colored walls, ceilings and reflectors can provide you with greater creative options. Your photographs will end up appearing more natural, with better contrasts and less blown highlights.

Speedlights have automatic and manual modes of firing

Choose among modes such as the highly accurate automatic (TTL) mode and manual mode. Set the intensity of light incremental ⅓ stops in either positive or negative direction to suit your particular need with a greater range than that of a pop up flash.

Use a range of diffusers to soften light from flashgun

You can also easily add a wide range of diffusers to soften the light from a flashgun. Furthermore, you could even obtain a sync cable or wireless transmitter, so that you can use the flash unit off the camera and have even greater flexibility in where you direct light. This may be applied in macro photography and even wedding photography where it’s essential to have naturally looking photographs.

Set up a simple budget studio with flashguns

With at least two flashguns, you can literally set up a budget studio, even on location where you can use one flash as master, and the other as slave to get even more power over the final outcome of your images.

Lots of applications with speedlights to try

There are lots of tricks and tips that come along with the use of flashguns on your camera. Some compact cameras may have a hot shoe to place an on camera flash, and even some of the new mirrorless cameras have that option as well.

It’s great to use the pop up flash for basic fill in light, but when you wish to graduate and start doing some more creative lighting on a budget then it may be time to get yourself at least one flashgun or speedlight.

Flashguns aren’t without their limitations though and there are differences between brands and models that you need to take into consideration. After experimenting with the versatility and power of a flashgun, you may end up hardly ever using a pop up flash afterwards. They're more practical to achieve more natural looking photographs on a budget.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)