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Compensating for the Flash Exposure

The E-TTL system will usually do an excellent job of balancing the flash and ambient light for your exposure, but it does have the limitation of not knowing what effect you want in your image. You may want more or less flash in a particular shot. You can achieve this by using the Flash Exposure Compensation feature.

Just as with exposure compensation, flash compensation allows you to dial in a change in the flash output in increments of 1/3 of a stop. You will probably use this most often to tone down the effects of your flash, especially when you are using the flash as a subtle fill light (Figure 8.15 and Figure 8.16).

Figure 8.15

Figure 8.15 This shot was taken with the pop-up flash set to normal power. As you can see, it was trying too hard to illuminate my subject.

ISO 400 • 1/60 sec. • f/4 • 200mm lens

Figure 8.16

Figure 8.16 This image was made with the same camera settings. The difference is that the flash compensation was set to –1.3 stops.

ISO 400 • 1/60 sec. • f/4 • 200mm lens

Using the Flash Exposure Compensation feature to change the flash output

  1. Press the Q button to activate the Quick Control screen on the LCD.
  2. Use the up/down/left/right (Cross keys) to move the cursor to the Flash Exposure Comp. icon.
  3. Rotate the Main dial to adjust the flash compensation in 1/3-stop increments (left to subtract and right to add).

  4. Press the shutter button halfway to return to shooting mode, and then take the picture.
  5. Review your image to see if more or less flash compensation is required, and repeat these steps as necessary.

The Flash Exposure Compensation feature does not reset itself when the camera is turned off, so whatever compensation you have set will remain in effect until you change it. Your only clue to knowing that the flash output is changed will be the presence of the Flash Exposure Compensation symbol on the rear LCD, so make sure you check it. It will disappear when there is zero compensation set.

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