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Author Topic: Using the Built-in Flash  (Read 6840 times)

slinky

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Using the Built-in Flash
« on: February 13, 2012, 11:44:51 AM »
Long time reader, first time poster.

So I've pretty much resolved that the built-in flash on my 450D should not be used and have accordingly bought some fast primes for low light situations but am still finding times where I need more light to bring down ISO and/or increase shutter speeds. I have the intention of picking up a used speedlite 430ex ii since I think that will give me what I need (HSS would be nice) but I was wondering if in the mean time it would be worthwhile to pick up a diffuser to attach to the built-in flash?

Flash Diffuser Universal Pop-up for Canon EOS 450D 500D 300D 400D DSLR Camera

Universal Pop-up Flash Diffuser for Canon EOS 450D 500D 1000D 550D 600D 1100D

These two for example are very reasonably priced and if they give any sort of usable results, I would consider picking them up, even if just to play around with until I get a dedicated flash. If they're effective, I might even use them in the future when I don't want to carry the flash around.

Would appreciate any thoughts and comments and would love to hear any experiences with people using these types of diffusers with built-in flashes. Thanks!

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Using the Built-in Flash
« on: February 13, 2012, 11:44:51 AM »

bycostello

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #1 on: February 13, 2012, 12:00:56 PM »
pop up flash just doesn't have enough power for anything except a snap shot..  save ur money for the flash unit...

AmbientLight

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #2 on: February 13, 2012, 12:05:23 PM »
In my humble opinion you should buy the SpeedLight, but I am not sure, why you would not simply bounce the flash off a wall or something similar instead of using a diffuser. Is there a specific reason based on what you shoot that a diffuser would be easier to use?

neuroanatomist

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #3 on: February 13, 2012, 12:13:05 PM »
As bycostello, the pop-up flash is already pretty weak, and adding a diffuser will cost you a stop or more.  A pop-up flash diffuser will certainly soften the light, but for it to be effective you'll have to practically shove your camera into the subject's face.

I'd just get the 430EX II, and instead of buying a diffuser for the pop-up, buy a StoFen for the 430EX II to soften that a little more.  Then bounce it off the ceiling, and you'll get quite decent lighting (not as soft as a monolight in a big softbox, but quite decent). 

About the only place a pop-up flash is useful is for fill light outdoors.
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awinphoto

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #4 on: February 13, 2012, 12:18:23 PM »
It's not that the popup flash is to never be used, it can be a tool if used correctly and in the right context...  What it is intended to be is a fill flash (fill in the immediate shadow detail).  It isn't quite powerful to use anywhere beyond lets say 10 feet, and hence there is the misconception.  Now even if you get a speedlight, and you plan on shooting with it on camera, you are basically using a more powerful pop up flash in that it's coming from the same direction, same purpose, just more power... tool time anyone?  Now if you take the flash off camera, I'm not sure if your camera has a PC out cord or not.. but if it does, you can use your pop up as fill and your flash as an off camera key light, which is the ideal situation.  Whenever you upgrade, if you decide to upgrade to the 60D or 7D, you can then use your popup flash as a wireless commander and use the popup as fill, speedlight as key, and then you could even then be more creative, use umbrella, softbox, etc for your speedlight.  I've even used a makeshift diffuser on the popup to soften it and make it more functional as well as keep the commander function with the off camera speedlight. 

With your camera, you may be limited on what you can do with your pop-up and or speedlight, but if you can use both, then you could have the best of both worlds.  If you can only use your flash on camera then you wont be getting anymore than a popup flash on steroids.  If you can somehow get your flash off camera, you could be more creative, but depending on your camera you may want to some how add a fill light if possible or use reflectors to fill in the shadow areas. 
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neuroanatomist

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #5 on: February 13, 2012, 12:32:59 PM »
If you can only use your flash on camera then you wont be getting anymore than a popup flash on steroids.

While this is true for the lowest-end flashes, the big difference with the better speedlites is that the head can be angled up or to the side, which means you can bounce the light off the ceiling.  Since the 'softness' of the light is directly proportional to the size of the illumination, the ceiling acts as a big, overhead softbox (assuming it's low enough, and white).  That's a lot more than 'a popup flash on steroids' IMO. 
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slinky

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 12:47:02 PM »
Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing everyone. I figured that if $2 made the built-in flash even slightly more usable, it might have been worthwhile but it sounds like the power just isn't there to get through the diffuser.

And yes, the intention with the Speedlite would be to bounce it off the walls/ceiling to soften the light indoors.

neuro, do you suggest getting the softbox for the Speedlite AND bouncing it off the ceiling or one or the other?

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #6 on: February 13, 2012, 12:47:02 PM »

neuroanatomist

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #7 on: February 13, 2012, 12:54:42 PM »
neuro, do you suggest getting the softbox for the Speedlite AND bouncing it off the ceiling or one or the other?

Bouncing off the ceiling will be better than a softbox.  The largest softbox you can mount directly to the Speedlite on-camera isn't really very big, usually not more than about 8"x10".  I have a Lumiquest Softbox III that I use occasionally, but usually with the flash mounted on a flash bracket and connected with an off-camera cord.  Even then, you need to get close to the subject for soft light.

The StoFen diffuser isn't a softbox, just a little translucent cover for the flash head.  I use it when I bounce the flash - it throws a small amount of direct light at the subject, which is good for fill and catchlights, while letting most of the light bounce off the ceiling.  FWIW, the 580EX II has a little pull-out bounce card that does something similar.

For a softbox, the bigger the better.  I do have a couple of Lastolite 24" Ezyboxes that I use with 430EX II's (triggered by PocketWizards), and an even bigger 48" octabox that I use with a monolight (studio flash).  But I wouldn't go there striaght off... ;)
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awinphoto

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #8 on: February 13, 2012, 01:02:21 PM »
Interesting thoughts. Thanks for sharing everyone. I figured that if $2 made the built-in flash even slightly more usable, it might have been worthwhile but it sounds like the power just isn't there to get through the diffuser.

And yes, the intention with the Speedlite would be to bounce it off the walls/ceiling to soften the light indoors.

neuro, do you suggest getting the softbox for the Speedlite AND bouncing it off the ceiling or one or the other?

Just keep in mind, bouncing will carry some of the color of the wall/ceiling bounced... like if your in a room with red accent walls, you may get a red color cast on your subject...  Also the higher the ceilings or farther away the walls, the less effective the flash will be, but then again it may work out for you.  I have a 20"x20" softbox for my speedlight but that's to be used off camera.  For on camera, have like a 5"x5" softbox... The jury's still out how much of an effect such as small box has, but for what it's worth. 
Canon 5d III, Canon 24-105L, Canon 17-40L, Canon 70-200 F4L, Canon 100L 2.8, Canon 85 1.8, 430EX 2's and a lot of bumps along the road to get to where I am.

slinky

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #9 on: February 13, 2012, 01:13:02 PM »
FWIW, the 580EX II has a little pull-out bounce card that does something similar.

The 430 doesn't have the bounce card? I thought that it did.
I have lots to learn about this stuff.

awinphoto

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #10 on: February 13, 2012, 01:17:18 PM »
FWIW, the 580EX II has a little pull-out bounce card that does something similar.

The 430 doesn't have the bounce card? I thought that it did.
I have lots to learn about this stuff.

The 430 has a pull out diffuser type thing but the 580 has that and the white card.  It's kinda flimsy but handy at the same time... Its one of this things I'm sure you could make with shiny white business card type paper and use with your 430 if you want it. 
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wickidwombat

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #11 on: February 13, 2012, 06:07:39 PM »
I agree with everyone else regarding lack of power on the built in flash however it will be ok in 1 situation with a diffuser and that is if you are very close taking the shot with a wide angle lens say of young children you know those cute shots where their head looks really big. Because you are so close to your subject the effective power is increased regarding exposure.

The best use of the pop up flash is to control an off camera flash and to provide a little bit of fill flash if you want to diffuse that fill flash a bit, these are good because they are so small can just pop into your pocket
the orange one can be handy if you want to get tricky with your colour balance and Gel your off camera flash too
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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 06:27:38 PM »
Actually, the Lightscoop http://lightscoop.com/ kind of works. You have to compensate for the reduced light, but as gadgets go, this is not a bad one. Certainly no substitute for a good strobe and it's not going to cover long distances, but in a pinch it can be a lifesaver.

Uses a mirror instead of a diffuser, so I think it probably conserves some of the light a little better. More expensive, though. Handy to throw in the camera bag for emergencies.
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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #12 on: February 13, 2012, 06:27:38 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2012, 06:58:05 PM »
Actually, the Lightscoop http://lightscoop.com/ kind of works. You have to compensate for the reduced light, but as gadgets go, this is not a bad one. Certainly no substitute for a good strobe and it's not going to cover long distances, but in a pinch it can be a lifesaver.

Uses a mirror instead of a diffuser, so I think it probably conserves some of the light a little better. More expensive, though. Handy to throw in the camera bag for emergencies.
ah thats nice to bounce, with a low white ceiling could work ok and quite compact too
$30 though rather put it towards a real flash
« Last Edit: February 13, 2012, 07:09:40 PM by wickidwombat »
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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 07:00:14 PM »
Don't waste your time pimping the onboard flash, it's just a waste of money.

Get yourself a 430 EXII and bounce it from whatever you can find (ceiling, wall, curtains, reflector). Flash photography will never be the same for you, I guarantee. You can later get some triggers to fire the flash off-camera, which will open yet another new world. But for a start, just get a plain 430 EXII.

Photography is all about light. If the available light is crappy: Make your own.

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Re: Using the Built-in Flash
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2012, 07:00:14 PM »