Many DSLR cameras come with a handy popup flash, which can be used to great effect. However, these little flashes lack power, and you need to understand their limitations. They won't photograph anything a long way from the camera, for instance. The light isn't directional either, which can give a flat and somewhat harsh look to the final image. But the DSLR popup flash does have its uses, some of which are explored below.
- Fill-in flash. Ever tried to take a photograph of someone outside, but you ended up with an image where half the person's face is covered in shadow? The sun's rays cast a large number of shadows, but your small DSLR popup flash can easily correct this problem on a head and shoulders shot. You'll end up wth an evenly balanced shot with the face nicely lit, and good catchlights in the eyes. And the combination of ambient light with the flash will stop the shot from looking flat and obviously lit by the flash.
- Capturing action. The DSLR popup flash is also ideal for shooting creative action shots. By using a slow shutter speed, panning with the action, and firing your popup flash at the beginning of the shot, you'll be able to freeze the action, while creating blurred streaks in the background. This technique is known as "flash and blur." It's best to choose a subject that you can get close to for this to be successful as the DSLR popup flash has a very limited range.
- Manual adjustment for macro photos. You can use the DSLR popup flash to take macro (close-up) shots of things such as flowers. However, on its own, the light from the popup flash will be too harsh and flat, and it could bleach the colors from your image. If you manually adjust the exposure of your flash and set it at least a stop lower than your chosen aperture, you will get enough flash to bring the flower out from its background colors without blowing it out entirely.
- When you shouldn't use the DSLR popup flash. Don't ever try and use a DSLR popup flash to photograph a large group of people, as it can't possibly cover that kind of distance. Nor should you expect the popup flash to be able to illuminate even one person at night! In an indoor situation, the popup flash will cast extremely harsh shadows, which don't create an attractive shot. Unless you just want a quick snapsnot, it's best to limit your use of this tool to the tips listed above.