Pop-up Flash for high ISO


Is a pop-up flash important when ISO speeds go up to 6400 and beyond?

Answer by: K Madhavan Pillai, Chief Editor, Better Photography

In a very basic sense, a pop-up flash is very useful to fill in shadows in harsh light, or to add a bit of sparkle to the eyes, apart from illuminating a subject when light levels are low. Furthermore, increasing your ISO not only allows you to make good exposures in lower levels of light, it also serves to increase the working distance or range of the flash. These alone are excellent reasons to have an on-board flash. Perhaps, you may be surprised to know that many senior photographers opt for entry to mid-level DSLRs because they come with an onboard flash, which is absent on higher-end cameras. When you know how to further adjust settings for it, the flash becomes a hugely creative tool.

Exposure: 1/2sec at f/8 (ISO 800), in-built flash set to -2/3rd stop). Photograph/K Madhavan Pillai

Flash Exposure Compensation allows you to dial up or dial down the power of your flash to make your foreground illumination more or less pronounced. Combined with regular exposure compensation, where you increase or decrease the exposure for the background (here is where control over ISO lets you decide how slow or fast your shutterspeed is, or your use of a larger or narrower aperture), you can control how your subject and overall frame looks. Rear and Front Curtain Sync allows you to move to a slower shutterspeed than the camera’s flash sync speed, defining whether a moving subject is before or after the light trails or blurs. This can equally also combine with camera movement techniques, zoom and tripodbased techniques, quite nicely.

There’s a lot that can be done with an on-board flash. A sensor with good high ISO capabilities, exponentially increases the possibilities with it.