For dark indoor scenes, the face of the subject may be unnaturally illuminated when you use the built-in flash. In this article, we teach you how to fix this by varying the amount of light from the built-in flash. You can adjust the settings to get the level of brightness you want. (Reported by: Teppei Kohno)
EOS 760D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/2.0, 1/125 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
Adjust the flash exposure of the built-in flash
Negative example (1)
- Without using built-in flash
Negative example (2)
- Using built-in flash (no flash exposure compensation)
Left: EOS 760D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/2.0, 1/100 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
When you take a photo without using the built-in flash, the tone of the indoor lighting will be quite dark and red. The light source is warm, but the human subject will appear dark. The texture of the face and clothing is not clearly depicted.
Right: EOS 760D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/80 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto/ Flash exposure compensation: EV±0
When you use the built-in flash and the light is a little strong, it does not give the human subject a three-dimensional feel, which makes the subject look unnatural. If this happens, you can adjust the flash exposure compensation to control the brightness.
Good example - With built-in flash (using flash exposure compensation)
EOS 760D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/2.8, 1/80 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto/ Flash exposure compensation: EV-1
By adjusting flash exposure compensation to EV-1 before taking a photo with the built-in flash, you will be able to capture the amount of light that falls on the human subject, and create a natural three-dimensional look in the photo.
Since lighting is poor indoors, the subject would appear slightly darkened. You may be concerned about the shadows that may form around the face depending on where the source of the light is. For such situations, the built-in flash is effective, but using normal settings may cause the human subject to look too bright, lose its three-dimensional feel, and make the subject look unnatural. If that happens, you will need to adjust the flash exposure of the built-in flash. This function is called ‘flash exposure compensation’, and just like exposure compensation, you can set positive or negative values for it.
If the flash is too strong, setting the flash exposure compensation to a negative value will reduce the flash output, resulting in a more natural depiction. It becomes possible to supplement the amount of light falling on the subject with a more natural feeling, while still making good use of the local light source.
You can find your preferred brightness with flash exposure compensation
Flash exposure compensation + 2
Flash exposure compensation + 1
Flash exposure compensation 0
Flash exposure compensation -1
Flash exposure compensation -2
EOS 760D/ EF50mm f/1.8 STM/ FL: 50mm (80mm equivalent)/ Manual exposure (f/2.0, 1/60 sec, EV±0)/ ISO 200/ WB: Auto
These photos were taken using the built-in flash while switching between 5 settings of flash exposure compensation. The brightness of the subject will vary depending on the amount of light used and you will see that the impression of each photo differs. Try and choose the settings that are ideal for you.
The flash exposure compensation is in 1/3 stop increments, and can be adjusted within the range of ±3 stops. The more positive value you set, the stronger the flash output will be. Likewise, the flash output will be reduced by setting a negative value. By default, the setting would be at ±0, and this is when you do your test shot. If the photo is dark, set a positive value. If the photo is too bright, reduce the value or set to a negative value. Furthermore, once you set the flash exposure compensation, the setting will stay the same even if you switch off the camera. Don’t forget to set back to the original settings.
How to adjust flash exposure compensation of built-in flash (*For EOS 760D)
1. Display quick menu
Press the [Q] button to display the quick menu.
2. Select ‘flash exposure compensation’
Press the cross keys, select “flash exposure compensation”, and press the “SET” button.
3. Set compensation level
Once the “flash exposure compensation” screen is displayed, use the sub-dial to adjust the amount of light of the flash. After taking the photo, return the setting to .
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Born in Tokyo in 1976, Kohno graduated with a Social Work degree from the Department of Sociology of Meiji Gakuin University, and apprenticed with photographer Masato Terauchi. He contributed to the first issue of photography magazine PHaT PHOTO and became an independent photographer after that, in 2003. The author of many books, Kohno not only shoots all sorts of commercial photographs, but also writes prolifically for camera and other magazines.