Why do most digital cameras have so tiny flash - Part 2

Discussion in 'Digital Photography' started by aniramca, Dec 7, 2006.

  1. aniramca

    aniramca Guest

    Thanks for all of the comments!
    New digital cameras (Canon, for example) are trying to sell new feature
    which can work up to ISO 1600. They said that it will improve photos
    with low light conditions. Is this a solution for using digital camera
    for a photo in a large room? My old Lumix camera always requires post
    photo processing to increase the brightness and contrast of the photos.
    I thought that it was just my camera. However, recently our colleauge
    at work took some shot of a lunch gathering inside a restaurant (large
    room but relatively low lighting) using a Canon camera (ELPH) and it
    appeared to produce the same quality pictures (dark) without post photo
    processing. I recall that using my old SLR and an external flash
    (regular size), I can easily achieve good, bright quality photos under
    this situation.
    Anyone know if the new ISO 1600 digital camera can solve some of this
    problem and is it worth to get one?. Is this actually similar to use an
    ASA 1600 film on a low light photography? I am still wondering whether
    I did something wrong in my photo shots. Because, I seemed to be
    convinced that my tiny flash will NEVER do the job for taking photos in
    a relatively large room indoor and with ambient low lights (like inside
    a large restaurant). I tried to use the "night" photo option, It came
    up better in the tiny LCD screen, but when you download the photos to a
    computer, they are getting fuzzy (longer time exposure). I also tried
    with manual option and pushed the exposure to maximum +1 or +2 over. It
    helps, but I sometime need more than that. If I use gamma correction
    too much in the post photo processing, it becomes grainy.
    Second question is about the use of external flash. Thanks for info
    that I have to be careful to use "Old external flash" with new digital
    camera which has a hotshoe. I never thought of that. I guess it means
    that if I buy a digital camera with hot shoe flash, I probably need the
    appropriate external flash recommended by the same camera manufacturer?
    ... therefore cannot utilize my old flash. In the old SLR photography
    with flash, my camera automatically set to 1/60 time, if flash option
    is selected (although some of newer SLRs and more expensive ones can
    have ranges of time exposure other than 1/60). Would this be a case for
    the new digital cameras? When the photo is taken automatically by a
    flash, is the time set to 1/60?
    In the past I am always worried to have a camera with a built in flash.
    30 years or so ago, I heard from suppliers of external flash that with
    so many charging of the flash, the flash bulb will eventually burn out.
    If this is the case, then you can not use the camera with the flash
    anymore (just like buying a TV with DVD player. If the DVD player
    busted up after 1 year, and the TV can last for 10 years, then you end
    up with a TV with unfunctional DVD for the remaining 9 years. Therefore
    I always get the DVD player separately). Is this a problem with modern
    digital cameras with internal flash? My Lumix is over 3 years old now
    and perhaps using more than 1000x flash pictures (and many more with no
    flash). The flash is still working, as well as the camera.
    Thanks for the info
    aniramca, Dec 7, 2006
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  2. It is just one more tool, not a solution.
    That could be many things. Many cameras have the ability to adjust the
    original exposure, which is the best, assuming the original exposure is
    really off.
    Restaurants are difficult to archive good lighting with or without any
    flash. A larger flash does not, in itself, help much. The problem is that
    some subjects are closer to the flash and some further away. This is the
    same if you are using a 4x5 film camera or a micro digital camera. With
    the old 4x5's we dodged and burned when we printed. With digital images you
    can do much the same on your computer.

    A flash you can remove and reposition can sometimes help or you may use
    a number of flashes. I can remember one shoot we did using a 8x10 that we
    used about a half dozen flashes all in different locations.

    My digital camera has 3200 and is far from new. No it does not solve
    the problem. It just offers an additional tool.
    Often, if you have a powerful flash that can be re-aimed, you can bounce
    the flash off the ceiling to get a fairly good distribution of light. That
    only works with white ceilings. The better solution is several remote
    flashes set up to more evenly light the entire area you want to photograph.

    What you are asking to do is much the same as happens at every
    graduation ceremony. Mon and pop are up in the top row of the seats and
    using a Kodak Instamatic 104 with a flash cube and expect a nice close-up
    photo of their son. It won't happen.
    Joseph Meehan, Dec 7, 2006
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  3. aniramca

    Scott W Guest

    The real solution IMO is stop trying to use a flash and get a camera
    that can photograph using available light. This means a DSLR and a fast
    lens. It has to be very dark before I can't get a photo without
    using a flash.

    I have two lenses that I like, a 50mm f/1.8 and a 28mm f/2.8, these and
    the camera at ISO 800 work very well.

    Scott W, Dec 7, 2006
  4. aniramca

    ray Guest

    Flashes on digital cameras are notoriously weak. Assuming you're using one
    without a hotshoe, the solution is a hotshoe slave and a decent flash unit.
    ray, Dec 8, 2006
  5. aniramca

    ASAAR Guest

    No, most of the new cameras having high ISOs such as 800 and 1600
    have it in name only. You try it once or twice and go back to using
    a maximum of ISO 400 or even ISO 200. Your camera's flash isn't
    adequate, and that's true for almost all small P&S cameras. They
    all give a maximum usable distance, and that's usually good enough
    to photograph someone at your table . . . if the table isn't too
    large. But on-board flash is undesirable for this purpose, because
    the light varies in the extreme from one end of the table to the
    other. You'd either have to use multiple external flashes to get
    uniform light, or use a camera sensitive enough to not require flash
    at all.

    Some of Fuji's cameras are exceptions, with the dumb little
    F10/F11/F30 models and the new, larger, more sophisticated S6000
    having very usable high ISOs. According to dpreview's new review of
    the S6000, its noise really starts to show up at ISO 1600 but it can
    be improved quite a bit if you shoot RAW instead of JPG. Most S6000
    owners would probably want to stick with ISO 800 and lower, but
    that's not bad at all when some of its competition struggles with
    ISO 200. If you'll only be printing small snapshots, ISO 1600 might
    be usable, but barely, I think. Whether it would work in a large
    restaurant depends on the lighting of course. I used Fuji's
    smaller, less sensitive S5100 in a restaurant and it worked pretty
    well, so the Fnn's and S6000 would work in far more restaurants.
    But in even dimmer rooms you'd need a more sensitive DSLR,
    preferably with a faster lens.
    ASAAR, Dec 8, 2006
  6. aniramca

    Ron Hunter Guest

    The flash units built into most cameras will probably outlast the
    cameras other components. There in no doubt that newer flash tubes have
    longer life, and higher light output than the older ones. I wouldn't
    worry about this issue as compared to external flash units.
    However, the smaller the flash unit, the less light it is likely to be
    able to project, restricting the distance at which you can get usable
    pictures. DSLRs usually have more powerful flash units than compact P&S
    cameras, because there is room for larger ones, and the battery power is
    usually adequate to drive them. The real answer to low light
    photography is a camera with higher ISO rating, which means it can
    collect more light (larger lens), and it is more sensitive to that light
    (better sensor). A camera with good ISO 1600 (or even 3200) can
    capture shots in low light without resorting to flash, if the motion
    isn't too fast for the shutter speed. The bottom line is that flash is
    pretty much useless over 20 feet, unless you have external flash
    systems, and much less than 20 feet for smaller cameras.
    Ron Hunter, Dec 8, 2006
  7. aniramca

    John Turco Guest




    The main component of an electronic flash unit, is a quartz tube,
    filled with (mostly) "xenon" gas (hence its technical name, "xenon
    flash lamp"). High-voltage electricity "excites" the gas, thereby
    causing the flash to "fire."

    So, you see, as there's no incandescent "bulb" involved, it can't
    actually "burn out." I suppose it's vaguely possible that the xenon
    could leak out, eventually; yet, I've never seen (or heard) of such
    a thing happening.

    John Turco <>
    John Turco, Dec 11, 2006
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