Built-In Flash vs External Flash: Which one suits me best?

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  By Michael Moodie
Built-In Flash vs External Flash: Which one suits me best? www.sleeklens.com

Flash photography could be considered one of those little hurdles you go over during your career in photography. It’s definitely not hard once you understand how artificial light works. However, if you’re new to it, you might get a headache on your first few attempts like myself. As you begin to learn about flash photography, you will also gain knowledge in regards to the various types of external or Speedlite on the market and what are the advantages of having these. If you are not looking to invest in an external flash, our good friends at Canon and Nikon includes on built into your DSLR. It’s a cute little pop-up flash which can be triggered manually or set off automatically depending on the shooting mode you’re in. The big question is, which one is considered better? In addition to that, what are the drawbacks of each? In this article, I will be giving you a brief insight as to which flash is better between the built-in and the external.

Built-In Flash Pros:

– With the built-in flash, you have no need to worry about additional equipment such batteries or a diffuser. You now have the luxury of simply walking with just your camera to get the job done. Most external flashes use AA batteries which can die pretty fast depending on how much light you’re trying to omit from your flash. That then leaves you to worry about your batteries dying on you or having to buy an extra pack of batteries before you head to a shoot. This can be hassling especially if you’re in a rush and tend to forget things pretty easily.

– A built-in flash is very easily accessible to the user. Most built-in flashes simply pop up when needed and can be discreetly locked down when it’s not being used or there is no need for it.

– A built-in flash adds no additional weight to your camera when shooting. When an external flash is mounted on to your camera, the significant change in weight can easily be observed. However with a built-in flash, well, it’s already there so there’s nothing additional to worry about.

Built-In Flash Cons:

– The number one reason why most professional photographers detest using the built-in flash is that harsh light it omits on to the subject. Light travels in a straight line until it is either reflected or absorbed. A built-in flash objective is to just set light to whatever subject is in front of the lens. It does not work to bounce light or even make it softer. Don’t get me wrong, in some cases the external flash works perfect but in most cases, you may end up with an ugly overlit image and a bright, harsh light on the face of your subject.

– The issue of red eyes also becomes a topic when we speak about a built-in flash. If you notice when taking pictures with dim or no light, the built-in flash tends to create a red-eye effect on to your subject. Many wonder why is this happening? Well simply put, the flash is a bit too close to the lens, as well as it is too direct unto the subject.

External Flash Pros:

– I think there are a bit more pros to having an external flash than cons. The first pro that every photographer loves is the ability to control the direction of the light. An external flash allows you to move the light source in various position for a more well-lit photo. This has worked to my advantage countless times and I can only imagine what it’s done for other photographers as well.

– There are more accessories available for an external flash than a built-in flash. These accessories aid you in casting out shadows, therefore it spreads the light coming from the flash or some accessories help to diffuse the light and make it a bit softer on the subject. This freedom to control and manipulate your light source will have you forgetting about your built-in flash in no time. These accessories are also pretty affordable on Amazon or even in your local camera stores. They vary in size and all serve different purposes depending on your needs.

– You can also control and adjust the amount of light your flash omits very accurately. This can easily be done while shooting so you get that right amount of flash that you need. In addition to this, a photographer can bounce as much light as they please depending on the setting they’re in. For example, if you’re shooting in a room with white walls or white roofing, your job becomes so much easier. White is known for reflecting light pretty well so in this case you can simply point your flash in the direction of the roof or wall and watch the magic happen.

External Flash Cons:

– I few issues you might encounter with the external flash is its added weight to your camera. It’s a pretty bulky item, so if you’re not a fan of hauling around a heavy camera then the external flash might just be a bit of a problem for you.

– As I mentioned earlier, most external flashes use AA batteries and depending on your daily usage, these can run down pretty quicker than you’d expect. You often find yourself having to check your battery levels as well as purchasing back up batteries just in case the ones inside the flash fails.

Generally speaking, an external is a million times better than using a pop-up flash but they both have their drawbacks. I hope this article has helped you to understand the significant difference between a built-in flash vs an external flash. Until next time, thank you for stopping by.


Rating: 3.67 based on 3 Ratings
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Michael Moodie is a Freelance Photographer and Photojournalist. He Enjoys Lifestyle Photography and Traveling while doing all things creative!

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