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Should I Buy an External Flash or Get a Fast Lens?

Dragging Your Flash

Here are two more examples that I want to use to illustrate the advantage of having flash. The photo was taken with a f/2.8 zoom, which was insufficient to get ample light in at night without considerable blur or grain.

This was taken a few minutes ago, past 9PM. The sky is dark, the only ambient were two overhead tungsten tubes (about 20W each)…

There’s quite a bit of ambient registered in the background despite the direct flash from the pop-up flash. The shadow thing on the right was caused by my camera strap, sorry about that.

The lighting was obviously frontal, as evident with the sharp shadows around my wife’s left arm. The pop-up, however didn’t overpower the scene, it worked like a fill-in instead of a main light.

What’s the EXIF? ISO 800 – Aperture F/5

Now try those two setting in Av mode at home at night with whatever ambient you have (1-3 low-wattage ambient lights max) and see what happens… You’ll probably get a shutter speed of around 1/2 to 1/4 or so and your image will result to a blurry photo due to cam shake.

Try to switch to auto or P mode and use flash and take a photo, your cam will try to get you a decently sharp photo at 1/60 of a sec or so and you’ll probably get a dark-background/typical flash shot where no ambient light registered (like the back wall and lights from the other buildings).

The photo above was taken with a shutter speed of 1/10th of a second, hand-held. The pop-up flash was set at +1.3EC since it was really dark and the pop-up flash won’t be powerful enough. There’s virtually no cam shake visible and the flash isn’t very harsh on the subject.

Read the conclusion on the last page.

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