Flashguns for Digital SLR & Mirrorless Cameras
Most digital slr cameras come with a built in flash which if used effectively can help reduce unwanted shadows in daylight or light up a backlit subject. Most photographers will use their built in flash on automatic when the sun goes down or inside a building. Direct flash often produces harsh unflattering light and as flash is subject to the inverse square law, light drops quickly to leave dark backgrounds.
One of the major advantages of digital slr cameras over digital
compacts is the sheer number of accessories that can be used to enhance digital photography. One of the major accessories is the flashgun which fits into the hotshoe of a digital slr or can be connected via a sync lead if the camera has a flash sync socket or hotshoe adapter. Flashguns vary in size, power & complexity.
Most digital SLR camera manufacturers such as Nikon, Canon, Olympus, Pentax and Sony produce their own flash system while independent flash makers such as Sunpak, Nissin and Metz provide compatible flashguns usually at a lower price. Some of the best selling flashguns for digital SLR cameras are listed in the table opposite.
Higher end flashguns such as the Nikon SB-700 or SB-910 have many advantages over many basic lower end flashguns including a bounce / swivel head for softer lighting, a higher guide number indicating more flash power, faster recycling times, manual controls for controlling light output, through the lens metering (i-TTL), slow-sync flash, rear-curtain sync flash and wireless capability allowing the use of a number of flashguns to form a portable studio type lighting setup for on location photography.
For beginners to digital slr flash photography, a basic flashgun from their camera manufacturer or independent flashgun producer with a guide number of around 30 to 36 with bounce / swivel head and some manual controls to control flash output will be enough to get started. Learning to use a single flashgun on and off camera will be invaluable before moving onto a wireless setup incorporating 3 or 4 flashguns. As with most subjects, regular practice with flashlight photography will improve your photography and help you gain experience.
Flashguns are not only for indoor or outdoor photography when the light gets low but can help improve the final photograph through daylight fill-in flash which can reduce harsh shadows or bring out features on a backlit subject. Portable flashlight photography can be valuable in all areas of photography including portraiture, travel, fashion, fine art, architecture, corporate, nature, sport, weddings, children, family, still life, advertising, editorial, stock photography and much more.