TTL vs manual flash: what’s the difference?

ttl vs manual flash
(Image credit: Future)

Flash photography can be complicated, unpredictable, and unflattering, and it’s chock-full of complex jargon and acronyms. Then there's also the question of kit. Do you use the best flashgun or strobe, with the best flash triggers

To get the most from your camera’s flash system, you have to understand how it works. There are two main ways to expose with flash: by setting it to Manual mode (where available), where you control the power of the flash yourself; and TTL (Through-The-Lens) flash mode, where the camera measures the brightness of the flash being reflected into the lens and automatically adjusts the output.

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-To reduce the flash exposure, use…To increase the flash exposure, use…
TTLNegative Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC) (on some cameras, the regular exposure compensation setting also affects the flash exposure).Positive Flash Exposure Compensation (FEC)
Manual• A smaller aperture • A lower ISO sensitivity • A lower flash power • A softbox or similar modifier … or move the flash further away• A larger aperture • A higher ISO sensitivity • A higher flash power … or move the flash closer

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Lauren Scott
Freelance contributor/former Managing Editor

Lauren is a writer, reviewer, and photographer with ten years of experience in the camera industry. She's the former Managing Editor of Digital Camera World, and previously served as Editor of Digital Photographer magazine, Technique editor for PhotoPlus: The Canon Magazine, and Deputy Editor of our sister publication, Digital Camera Magazine. An experienced journalist and freelance photographer, Lauren also has bylines at Tech Radar,, Canon Europe, PCGamesN, T3, Stuff, and British Airways' in-flight magazine (among others). When she's not testing gear for DCW, she's probably in the kitchen testing yet another new curry recipe or walking in the Cotswolds with her Flat-coated Retriever.