What is flash sync? Your flash modes and when to use them (free cheat sheet)

How your flash modes work: free photography cheat sheet from Digital Camera World

Built-in flash vs off-camera flash

Built-in flash

Built-in flash

In fully-automatic mode, the pop-up flash fitted to most SLRs activates when light levels are low. However, in the more creative modes you can pop the flash up manually whenever you like, and use it for adding a little extra illumination.

Bear in mind that you’ll be limited to shutter speeds that are the same as or lower than the flash’s maximum flash sync speed – usually 1/200 sec or 1/250 sec.

Other limitations of built-in flash units include the risk of red-eye and the fact that the flash won’t fire in certain scene modes. Also, you might have to remove the hood from your lens to prevent it from casting a shadow across the image.



Off-camera flash

Having a flash fixed just above your camera is limiting, not least because it tends to create harsh shadows. Taking a hotshoe flashgun off-camera means it can be directed with more control, and if required can produce more even and flattering light.

Some cameras feature wireless flash connectivity, enabling you to trigger multiple flashes wirelessly, but all SLR cameras can be fitted with an off-camera cord. These enable you to connect the flashgun to the hotshoe and fire it remotely.

PAGE 1: What is flash sync?
PAGE 2: Rear curtain sync, red-eye reduction and flash metering
PAGE 3: How your flash modes work (free cheat sheet)
PAGE 4: Built-in flash vs off-camera flash


54 Portrait Ideas: free downloadable posing guide
40 More Portrait Ideas: part 2 of our free downloadable posing guide
Free f-stop chart: learn how to master your aperture
Flash photography basics: every common question answered