Nikon D7000, 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 D7000 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.

If you are working with one of the automatic scene modes, the flash should automatically activate when needed. If, however, you are working in one of the professional modes you will have to turn the flash on for yourself. To do this, just press the pop-up flash button located on the front of the camera (Figure 8.8). Once the flash is up, it is ready to go. It’s that simple.

A quick press of the pop-up flash button will release the built-in flash to its ready position.
Figure 8.8 A quick press of the pop-up flash button will release the built-in flash to its ready position.

Shutter speeds

The standard flash synchronization speed for your camera is between 1/60 and 1/250 of a second. When you are working with the built-in flash in the automatic and scene modes, the camera will typically use a shutter speed of 1/60 of a second. The exception to this is when you use Night Portrait mode, which will fire the flash with a slower shutter speed so that some of the ambient light in the scene has time to record in the image.

The real key to using the flash to get great pictures is to control the shutter speed. The goal is to balance the light from the flash with the existing light so that everything in the picture has an even illumination. Let’s take a look at the shutter speeds in the professional modes.

  • Program (P): The shutter speed stays at 1/60 of a second. The only adjustment you can make in this mode is overexposure or underexposure using the Exposure Compensation setting or Flash Compensation settings.
  • Shutter Priority (S): You can adjust the shutter speed to as fast as 1/200 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 smallest aperture.
  • Aperture Priority (A): This mode will allow you to adjust the aperture but will adjust the shutter speed between 1/200 and 1/60 of a second in the standard flash mode.

Flash range

Because the pop-up flash is fairly small, it does not have enough power to illuminate a large space (Figure 8.9). The effective distance varies depending on the ISO setting and aperture. At ISO 200, f/4, the range is about 14 feet. This range can be extended to as far as 20 feet when the camera is set to an ISO of 1600, f/8. For the best image quality, your ISO setting should not go above 1600. Anything higher will begin to introduce excessive noise into your photos. Check out page 147 of your manual for a chart that shows the effective flash range for differing ISO and aperture settings.

The pop-up flash was used to fill in shadows. The longer exposure time allowed the ambient light to illuminate the rest of the scene.
Figure 8.9 The pop-up flash was used to fill in shadows. The longer exposure time allowed the ambient light to illuminate the rest of the scene.

Metering modes

The built-in flash uses a technology called TTL (Through The Lens) metering to determine the appropriate amount of flash power to output for a good exposure. When you depress the shutter button, 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, the flash uses that exposure information and fires a predetermined amount of light at your subject during the exposure.

The default setting for the flash meter mode is TTL. The meter can be set to Manual mode. In Manual flash mode, you can determine how much power you want coming out of the flash ranging from full power all the way down to 1/128 power. Each setting from full power on down will cut the power by half. This is the equivalent of reducing flash exposure by one stop with each power reduction.

Setting the flash to the Manual power setting

Setting the flash to the Manual power setting

  1. Press the Menu button and then navigate to the Custom Setting menu.
  2. Using the Multi-selector, highlight the item labeled E Bracketing/Flash and press the OK button (A).
  3. Highlight item E3 Flash Cntrl for Built-in Flash and press OK (B).
  4. Change the setting to Manual (C) and then press the OK button to adjust the desired power—Full, ½, ¼, and so on—and press the OK button (D).

Don’t forget to set it back to TTL when you are done because the camera will hold this setting until you change it.