10 things to look for when buying a flashgun
Not all flashguns are created equal, so make sure you get one with the features that will be most useful to you
01 Be more centred
For off-centre portraits, zoom in and fill as much of the central region of the frame as possible with the subject’s face, then press the Flash value lock button before zooming out and recomposing the shot to avoid flash exposure inaccuracy.
02 Faster recycling
After a flash, most flashguns recycle to a state of readiness more quickly if fitted with NiMH rather than alkaline batteries.
03 Extra power
Some flashguns have a power input socket for connecting an optional external power pack. This lets you shoot for longer before needing to swap batteries.
04 Softer lighting
Some flashguns come with diffusion domes, which soften the light. For other makes and models, domes like the Sto-Fen Omni-Bounce are available separately.
05 High-speed sync
This is a great feature for combining flash with bright sunlight, or wide aperture, where you’ll need a fast shutter speed to avoid overexposure. However, the relatively short duration of flash tends to be much less powerful.
The repeat, or strobe, feature available in some flashguns enables the flash to fire several times within the same exposure, for example plotting the progress of a bouncing ball.
07 Camera controls
Flash modes like red-eye reduction, slow-sync and rear-curtain, as well as flash exposure compensation, can be adjusted via controls on the camera body.
Flash exposure compensation only alters the strength of the flash and therefore works independently of the camera’s regular exposure compensation. Use both to fine-tune the balance between flash and ambient lighting.
09 White Balance
Switching from Auto White Balance to the ‘flash’ preset value generally gives a warmer colour rendition and flatters skin tones.
10 Wired for light
If your camera doesn’t feature a Commander option for the pop-up flash, a dedicated off-camera flash cord enables easy remote firing.
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