Camera Modes

Flash modes

Changing the flash mode to match the scene or subject you’re photographing, whether in low or bright light, can result in better illuminated images.

popup flashMany digital cameras have several flash modes from which to choose. A built-in flash is small and not very powerful so make sure to stay within the specified flash range for the focal length used.

Digital camera flash modes

  • Automatic mode — Flash triggers automatically when the camera determines more light is needed in a scene. Turn off this mode  in places that forbid inside flash photography such as museums.
  • Red-eye reduction — Fires the flash several times just prior to exposing a photo. Reduces the reflection in a subject’s eyes that causes red-eye. The rapid flashes cause a subject’s pupils to contract and helps minimize the red-eye effect. Inform subjects before using this mode as the pre-flashes can cause people to look startled.
  • Forced (fill-in) flash — Keeps the flash on in situations where automatic mode would keep it off. Used when additional illumination is needed, such as when the main source of light is in the back of a subject or shadows prevent details from showing. Can be effectively used outside when subjects are within the flash range.
  • Suppressed flash — Turns the flash off.
  • Slow sync (also called night scene)* — Use to capture a dimly lit background at night. The flash fires briefly to light the foreground subject.
  • Rear-curtain sync* — Similar to slow synch but flash doesn’t fire until right before the shutter closes.
  • Flash exposure compensation — Used to increase or decrease the output of the flash; not all digital cameras have this feature.

*Tripod or other camera support recommended.

About the author

Gail Bjork

Gail Bjork, who is passionate about digital photography, is the owner and editor of Digicamhelp.Gail is the author of three illustrated ebooks about digital photography. A number of her photos and digital photography related articles appear at other websites.In 2006, a series of her photos, People in the Louvre, were exhibited at the Underground Photo Gallery
in Iisalmi Finland. Eight of her photos taken in the Florida scrub are on permanent exhibition at Parrish Medical Center in Titusville, Florida.Gail served twelve years as an elected member of The School Board of Palm Beach County, Florida, one of the largest school districts in the U.S. She has also been the editor of a small town newspaper and a free-lance writer. Gail and her husband owned and ran several small businesses.

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