How to choose the right flash for your DSLR

How to choose the right flash for your DSLR

Devices intended for advanced photographers, SLRs are most often owned by demanding users who know that the quality of light is an important factor in the success of their photos. So, is it built-in flash or external flash? The choice of flash will be made according to the profile of the photographer…

The built-in flash, useful to start

Usually located above the viewfinder on DSLR cameras, the built-in flash can be used automatically, allowing amateur photographers, or those new to their first DSLR, to let themselves be guided to obtain light when this is lacking in the environment. Slightly more advanced photographers can use this onboard flash manually, but keep in mind that using the flash requires skill, otherwise there will be too many missed shots. As you progress in photography, you will notice the limits of this device: low modeling possibilities, the impossibility of directing it, and low power...

An external flash for professionals

Power too low, imprecise settings, and pivoting of the light source impossible: the built-in flash will rarely suit professional photographers who generally prefer the use of an external flash. The most commonly used type of external flash like Canon's Speedlite 430EX III-RT, the cobra flash is a small portable flash that is very easy to transport and attaches to the housing as soon as it is needed and is far from expensive studio lamps. Adjustable in all directions and adjustable in terms of the form of light projected (concentrated or spread, for example), these cobra flashes have much greater power than built-in flashes, and they can even be used to illuminate subjects taken from very far with a telephoto lens. Be careful though, you have to check that the desired cobra flash is compatible with your camera before buying it.

We will pay attention to the guide number ( NG ) which is an indicator of the power of the latter. A high number means that the flash has a high power, useful for positioning its light far from the subject or for adding complex shapers (softbox or umbrella type).

Specific lights: studio and macro flashes

For lovers of fixed or macro photography, you should know that there are respectively so-called “studio” flashes and so-called “ring” (or macro) flashes, two very specific types of external flashes. On the one hand, the professional flash like the Nikon SB-5000 is usually held on a tripod (or another type of support) and produces extra-powerful light, perfect for photoshoots for example. And on the other, the ring flash will be used for all macro photographers and subjects very close to the lens.


When it comes to choosing the best flash for your DSLR, you have to consider many different aspects. One of those things is that you have to decide whether you want to use a single flash or a multiple flash setup. Depending on your situation and the type of photography you are doing, you might find that either a multiple flash setup or a single flash setup is the better option. If you want to know more, you can read my full article on choosing the right flash for your DSLR.

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