Flash Photography with a DSLR camera

Reply Sun 28 Mar, 2010 05:20 pm
My unanswered letter to canon....................

Dear Sirs,

Flash Photography with a DSLR camera

Is there any way to allow a DSLR camera to take flash-lit photographs in fully-automatic mode - in pitch darkness?

I am a rural dweller and most of the action occurs at night - when there is absolutely no light and you can't see your hand in front of your face.

With the old 35mm SLR, the camera was already set on the correct ISO film speed and the aperture was already set correctly for the appropriate flash unit -

all you had to do was focus (using a small flashlight) and push the button to take perfect pictures every time. Maximum set-up time would be two seconds.

With a DSLR (specifically my Canon 500D), you can get the camera to focus automatically as the the flash strobes to obtain some light - but once it has focused, it just sits and waits for you to do something as it can no longer see what it is supposed to be photographing! Using a flashlight to light the subject is very awkward for a couple of reasons. One, you need both hands to take a good picture and two, if the flashlight is too bright - you wind up with the subject overexposed in the middle of a pool of light. Most frustrating.

Having to set the DSLR camera manually, using an external flash unit is not possible in pitch darkness. You have to push all sorts of buttons, twiddle all sorts of dials, run up and down a couple of menus, push some more buttons - then hold the flashlight to try and focus on the subject. By this time, not only are you are blinded by the light from the viewing screen - but the subject has flown, hopped or wriggled away!

Surely, if the camera is able to obtain enough light from the strobe-flash to focus automatically - it must be possible for the flash to remain ON for the split second required to take the picture?

I have gone through the instruction manual and can't find anything. I have logged on to various internet forums regarding night photography - and they invariably start off with "....make sure there is enough light for you to be able to focus the camera."! I have experimented in numerous ways with the camera - but haven't yet come up with a solution.

I have missed a great many good photographs because of this DSLR, and I am becoming extremely frustrated with the inabilty of my camera to do what I tell it to do. What's the point of all this complicated electronic gear if the camera won't take the kind of pictures that a 40 year old camera does to perfection?

All I want to do is point-and-shoot at night using the in-built flash unit. What's so hard about that?

I look forward to you response - maybe telling me where I am going wrong???

Alternatively, would you kindly pass this on to your engineers, designers, electronics experts (or whoever invents the chips) to see if they can come up with a re-designed camera which will do as it's told!

Yours sincerely,
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