Digital SLR: Digital camera accessories Digital camera external flashguns
Sometimes, the flash on your camera might not be powerful enough for your needs – a typical digital camera flash will illuminate your subject within a range of a few metres of the camera only (this is why most pictures from the stands at night time football matches come out looking foggy and unclear).
Some higher end cameras come with a hotshoe on the top onto which you can fit an external flash and other accessories. To see which cameras have this feature, check out our digital camera and digital SLR reviews.
An external flash will give you a bigger flash range and illuminate subjects that are a little bit further away. You can also usually change the direction of the flash. External flashes also have the advantage that they have more stamina (or recycling time), so you can take more consecutive flash photos without waiting for the flash to recharge.
Flashguns use their own batteries, usually AA, saving your digital camera's batteries. Plus, as the flash is further from the lens, the incidence of red eye is reduced.
For digital SLR cameras, each manufacturer has its own range of external flashguns, and these aren't usually interchangeable between brands.
The major branded flashgun product ranges are:
Digital camera flash mounting types
Flashguns can attach via various methods:
- Ringflash – provides an even light source around the lens, eliminating shadows and ideal for macro or fashion photos
- Twinflash – similar to a ringflash, but with two flash units
- Hammerhead – often high-powered, these sit on brackets to the side of the camera body, giving off-centred lighting.
Digital camera flash features
- The Guide Number (GN) is a measure of the flash power output – higher figures are more powerful. It tells you how far the flash will reach at any combination of aperture and ISO.
- Through The Lens (TTL) flash metering sets the correct flash output and exposure according to data from the camera's image sensor.
- Swivel and bounce heads allow the flash to bounce light off surrounding surfaces, such as the ceiling, to give a softer light.
- AF Assist means that the flash is used in addition to the camera's own AF illumination, giving more accurate Autofocus (AF) over longer distances and with less available ambient light.
Looking to buy a new digital camera? Read the Which? guide to choosing and buying a digital camera.
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