Canon EOS 60D, Using the Built-in Flash

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There are going to be times when you have to turn to your camera’s built-in flash to get the shot. The pop-up flash on the 60D is not extremely powerful, but with the camera’s advanced metering system, it does a pretty good job of lighting up the night… or just filling in the shadows.

The built-in flash will automatically pop up in most of the Basic Zone shooting modes (Full Auto, Creative Auto, Portrait, Close-up, and Night Portrait) if the camera senses that there isn’t sufficient light for your scene. In the Creative Zone modes (P, Av, Tv, and so on), you’ll need to push the Flash button, located on the front of your camera, to activate it.


The standard flash synchronization speed for your camera is between 1/60 and 1/250 of a second. If you set the shutter speed faster than 1/250 of a second, it will be too fast to catch all the light produced from the flash. In fact, you’ll find that your camera won’t let you go beyond 1/250 of a second when the pop-up flash is activated.

The key to great flash photography is controlling the shutter speed. The longer your shutter is open, the more ambient light you can let into your image. If you are photographing a person during a sunset and drop your shutter speed low enough to capture the light behind them, you can add beautiful colors to the background. Using different shutter speeds with a flash makes it possible to create some fun and creative shots as well

  • Program (P): The shutter speed is automatically set between 1/60 and 1/250 of a second. The only adjustment you can make in this mode is to your exposure compensation by using the Quick Control dial to change the f-stop.
  • Shutter Priority (Tv): You can adjust the shutter speed to as fast as 1/250 of a second all the way down to 30 seconds. The lens aperture will adjust accordingly, but typically at long exposures the lens will be set to its largest aperture.
  • Aperture Priority (Av): This mode has three custom settings for adjusting the shutter speed when using the flash, depending on your needs. The default setting is Auto, which will set your shutter speed and is the recommended setting to start off with. (This setting can be changed in the 60D’s menu in the Custom Functions tab, and is the seventh option under the C.Fn I: Exposure menu item.)


The built-in flash uses a technology called E-TTL II (Evaluative Through The Lens) metering to determine the appropriate amount of flash power to output for a good exposure. When you press the Shutter button halfway, the camera quickly adjusts focus while gathering information from the entire scene to measure the amount of ambient light. As you press the Shutter button down completely, a pre-flash occurs to meter the light off the subject from the flash, and a determination is made as to how much power is needed to balance the subject with the ambient light. This applies to the P, Tv, and Av camera modes.

If you have special metering needs, such as a background that is very light or dark, you might consider using the Flash Exposure (FE) Lock to meter off your subject and then recompose your image in the viewfinder.


  1. Press the Flash button on the front of your camera to turn on the built-in flash. Then point the camera at the area that you want to base the flash exposure on (this is normally your subject).
  2. Press the FE Lock button, located on the back of the camera (the button with the asterisk above it). You will see “FEL” (Flash Exposure Lock) appear on the bottom of the viewfinder momentarily, and the flash will fire a pre-flash to measure exposure. The AE/FE lock symbol (an asterisk) will also appear in the viewfinder.
  3. Recompose the scene as you like, focus, and press the Shutter button completely.

The FE Lock will cancel after each exposure, so you have to repeat these steps each time you need to lock the flash exposure.


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