Choosing a Flash for your Digital SLR Camera
A good quality flash is one of the most common upgrades the average photographer will purchase after they have settled on their camera and lenses. Many digital SLR cameras come with a small flash built in, but for the most part these are relatively ineffective for most types of photography. More importantly they offer little, if any form of adjustment or controllability. On the other hand the average detachable flash allows you to adjust the brightness and angle of the flash to suit your needs and deliver the perfect shot time after time.
Why Not Simply Use the On-Camera Flash?
There are a number of very good reasons for you to avoid using the built-in flash that comes with your new camera. One is that the light produced by this type of flash is typically unfiltered, rendering it very harsh in nature. This can lead to problems such as red-eye that can ruin your photographs or require tedious work on the computer to remove.
Another reason to add a detachable flash is that the on-board flash is generally relatively weak. This means it has a very limited effective range or that it is only designed for close-up shots. Camera makers do this on purpose as a way to reduce the amount of drain the flash places on the battery. A detachable flash operates on its own batteries ensuring that it does not put any type of drain on your camera’s battery.
As with any technical equipment you buy, there are always terms specific to the device or technology. In the case of a digital flash, there are three very important terms which you need to be aware of:
Recycle Rate: This refers to how fast the flash recharges between uses and is ready to go again. Obviously if you are taking portraits or still shots, speed is not really an issue, but if you are taking action shots you need a flash with a much higher recycle rate.
Guide Number: This number refers to the physical size of the flash. When you are taking portraits a smaller unit is fine, but if you are taking large interior shots you need a larger flash that is capable of filling the area with plenty of light.
Flash Sync: This is actually a function of your camera that is vital to an external flash unit. If you buy a camera with a low flash sync speed, the external flash will end up limiting the camera’s shutter speed. Higher quality cameras have faster sync speeds allowing them to handle better flash units.
What to Look for in a Detachable Flash
The detachable flash unit is designed to fit on the “hot shoe” mounted on top of the DSLR camera. This small metal bracket has been designed to allow you to easily slide the flash in place and secure it in place. The hot shoe passes the signal from the camera to the flash letting it know when to fire. There are a number of features you should look for that will make your digital camera flash more useful:
- Recycle Rate
- TTL (through the lens) metering
- Tilt and Swivel
- Auto Zoom
Bear in mind that while price may play a part in your final decision, it should only play a small part. There is little point in buying a cheap flash unit only to find that it lacks the power or features you really need, only to end up spending even more money buying the one you should have purchased in the first place.
Here are Five Top Rated Digital Flashes for You to Consider
|Flash Comparison Chart|
|Neewer TT560 Flash Speedlite||Altura Photo (AP-UNV1) Speedlite Flash Kit||Altura Photo E-TTL Auto-Focus Dedicated Flash Kit (AP-C1001)||Canon Speedlite 270EX Flash||Canon Speedlite 430EX II Flash|
|Tilt and Swivel|
|Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review||Read Review|