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Thread: Flash Problems

  1. #1

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    Flash Problems

    For the past 6 months I have noticed my camera (built-in) flash is not working consistently. Sometimes it works fine, sometimes it seems to over-fire and completely wash out the photo, and most of the time the photos are too dark. This is not how my camera used to work. I can't seem to find a consistent pattern as to "what is happening." I hardly ever had to edit my photos - maybe an occasional too dark photo or too light photo, but now, at least half of my photos are too dark.

    The camera is a Canon Rebel EOS 300D, kit lens EF-S18-55mm f/3.5-5.6
    Flash recycle: 3 seconds
    Flash range: 18 mm- up to 24 feet and 55 mm - up to 15 feet

    My Dad bought it in 12-2003, went blind in 2006 and I have used it now and then. Just estimating, I'd say I would be guessing high if 25,000 photos have been taken with it. He and I both just bring out the camera at family events, etc.

    TROUBLESHOOTING:
    Just recently bought a new battery to see if that was the problem - it wasn't.
    Outdoor photos always turn out fine, even when I use fill flash.
    Monitoring the way I take photos to see if I was not allowing flash to recycle long enough. That doesn't seem to be the problem.

    I had been planning on buying a Canon external flash pretty soon but now ??? So, what I want to know...if I buy an external flash will that solve the problem by overriding the built-in flash or is my poor camera dying?

    Now - my confession. I am perfectly satisfied with the way this camera takes photos (or used to take) even though it is not the most up to date technology. I am not interested in using off camera flash, studio lights, etc. In short, (please don't evict me from the board) I just want to take really good snapshots. Okay, okay....I heard everyone gasp.

    I have enclosed a few photos to let you see what is happening.

    Photo 104
    Flash Problems

    Photo 105
    Flash Problems

    Photo 106
    Flash Problems

    Photo 190
    Flash Problems

    Photo 191
    Flash Problems

  2. #2
    CougarFool's Avatar
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    Re: Flash Problems

    Hi Jeannie,
    You haven't said what mode the camera was in for these shots: P,Green rectangle, Av or Tv etc.
    I have a 300D, that has nowhere near as many shutter actuations as yours, but I don't use the built-in flash. They were built to a price though and it may be that something has finally broken!

  3. #3
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: Flash Problems

    Hi Jeannie,

    A quick 'half' reply.

    I'd suggest the major cause is that the metering is being fooled by the tones in the images.

    You need to learn how to anticipate this and use exposure compensation, different metering modes, or take full manual control, to correct for it.
    The problem probably also applies to your outdoor shots, but flash and indoors makes it far more noticeable.

    Reviewing these 5 shots, I suspect you have the metering set to average/matrix, or possibly centre weighted.
    The metering will attempt to make the scene mid grey.

    Photo 104 is not too bad, maybe about a stop under exposed.
    Make a mental note how much dark window is in the total image.

    Photo 105 has much more dark windows in the scene, so the metering is trying to compensate and make the whole image mid grey, so it increases exposure and since you used flash it does it with that. The much bigger problem is that the flash hits the much closer subjects and 'over lights' them in the process.

    Photo 106 has a bit less dark window and crucially; more of the closer light coloured carpet and foreground, so that doesn't suffer quite so much.

    Photos 190 and 191 show the same metering issue; with child; OK (note tone of clothing). Kiddy scuttles off in 191 revealing black T-shirt and cardigan, camera thinks; "I'll make that mid grey", (it did) and hey presto, light coloured arms and face are blown (over exposed).

    Now you know why it happens, how much help do you need to fix it?
    Then I'll give the other half of the reply

    cheers,

  4. #4

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    Re: Flash Problems

    Sorry, I was shooting in P mode (full auto) and in that mode the AF is automatically chosen by the camera. I normally shoot in P mode.

    But the fact is....this is not how my camera "used" to work.

  5. #5

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    Re: Flash Problems

    Just a couple of thoughts, Jeannie.

    What metering mode were you using and did you use the focus, hold focus, then recompose the scene method.

    It does seem that something is occasionally fooling the camera metering system. As Dave mentioned.

    If you are metering with spot or centre metering you may well be getting a false reading which gets transferred into excessive flash output.

    And if using evaluative (matrix) metering you may also get a false reading if you recompose the scene because the camera holds the original meter reading after being recomposed if you half press the shutter. And it may occasionally be expecting a darker scene than the recomposed area.

    Another variable might be if you are using the auto ISO option. I always manually choose my ISO setting as required.

    A possible clue is that with the 'good' shots the blacks are rather dark; but with the 'over exposed' shots the blacks are about right. Or slightly over; which can often occur if you don't allow for a bit of exposure compensation.

    If your camera/flash was worn out I would think that the problem would be more about excessively dark shots.

    Personally, I don't like using P for flash as, if I remember correctly, your camera will auto set to 1/60 and a fully open aperture. Which often doesn't suit the scene.

    My preference, although it takes a bit of experimentation, is to set the camera in manual mode. Choose a suitable shutter speed, but not more than 1/200, and an average aperture, say F8, then adjust the flash to suit.

    A bit of flash output compensation is often essential for good results, never totally rely on 'the camera knows best'. But you may need to keep changing it as your overall scene changes; which requires a bit of experience. And don't forget to check what the reading is, from the previous use, before shooting next time.

    Many photographers make an extreme setting for one particular case then forget to reset on the next day; and everything turns out wrong!

  6. #6

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    Re: Flash Problems

    Geoff:
    In the full auto mode the camera selects evaluative metering (7 AF focus points)
    I was not using the hold focus, then recomposing the scene method.
    In program mode the ISO is selected by camera
    I also never use the continuous drive mode

    At this point, I am trying to figure out why my camera used to take good photos under the same circumstances I still shoot under and now, at least half of them are too dark with a few overexposed. I guess only a repairman can answer that question.

    Thanks everyone for their input.

  7. #7
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Flash Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    Sorry, I was shooting in P mode (full auto) and in that mode the AF is automatically chosen by the camera. I normally shoot in P mode. But the fact is....this is not how my camera "used" to work.
    Please RECONFIRM what CAMERA MODE you are using.
    This is critical to ascertain possible reasons for your problem.

    There are incorrect statements and a incorrect assumptions which have been made, as for some examples:

     P Mode (the one with the letter "P"), is NOT FULL AUTO.
     Full Auto is represented by the GREEN RECTANGLE.
     When shooting in P Mode, the AF points are USER SELECTABLE - OR may be set to AUTO
     When the camera is in P Mode the ISO is NOT selected by the camera
     The METERING MODE is NOT user selectable function of the EOS300D.

    These errors are not important in and of themselves, but they do muddy the water, because the Pop Up Flash WILL have DIFFERENT FUNCTIONALITY, depending upon what CAMERA MODE is being used, therefore please re-confirm which CAMERA MODE is being used.


    WW
    Last edited by William W; 21st February 2012 at 07:18 AM.

  8. #8

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    Re: Flash Problems

    Pardon me, my stupidity is showing! It was in full Auto - the GREEN RECTANGLE. Talk about dumb!!!!

  9. #9

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    Re: Flash Problems

    That may change things somewhat as the camera is now making all the decisions.

    Have you tried a few experiments with the manual settings to see if you still get similar problems?

  10. #10

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    Re: Flash Problems

    No. I am not too knowledgeable with manual settings, but I will try to experiment over the weekend. I appreciate your help.

  11. #11
    William W's Avatar
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    Re: Flash Problems

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    That may change things somewhat as the camera is now making all the decisions.
    Yes it does –dramatically.

    Specifically we now disregard the TWO (different) modes of flash functionality which operate, if the camera is used in the "P" Mode.

    As previously mentioned the METERING MODE is NOT selectable in the EOS300D.

    ***

    Quote Originally Posted by rosapearl View Post
    I am not too knowledgeable with manual settings, but I will try to experiment over the weekend.

    You are going to run some tests ...

    Manual Camera Mode (“M” on the Dial):

    If you use MANUAL MODE (“M” on the Dial) to conduct your tests, the METERING MODE will default to CENTRE WEIGHTED AVERAGE: unless you have AUTO EXPOSURE LOCK activated, in which case the Metering Mode will be set to PARTIAL.

    (When you used the GREEN RECTANGLE the metering mode was EVALUATIVE).

    However, all that info is very nice to know: but the most practical resource you have (IMO) is to use either the FLASH EXPOSURE LOCK function or the MANUAL FLASH function.
    And both those functions are available to you when you are in MANUAL MODE.
    BUT you must have Auto Exposure Lock activated for Flash Exposure Lock to be active.

    I suggest you address the user manual for details of these functions and you take Dave up on his offer of explanation part 2 - if you want to make more of these manual functions.

    ***

    Another option:
    I suggest you do conduct your tests in Manual Camera Mode (“M” on the dial)

    Perhaps the EASIEST solution to suit your set of outcomes will be to use P Mode.
    I suggest you do try that and compare the typical results you attain across a broad range of shooting scenarios.
    P Mode might provide adequate snapshots, with reasonable exposure balance between Flash and Ambient, for most shooting situations.

    ***

    On the images you posted – and as now confirmed that you were using Full Auto Mode on a 300D:

    I concur with the general analysis of each image as posted by - Dave Humphries.

    In general terms the Auto Flash is reading everything as Mid Grey: and was confused - by the Dark Window in 105/106 and it was more so confused by the Black Cardigan (190/191).

    However, I think at a more detailed level of analysis the difference between 105 and 106 has another element and that is Flash Recycle – I do not believe the Flash was at Full Power for Frame 106

    I know that you mentioned you wait for the Flash to Recycle and that you expect the Flash to be recycled in 3 seconds.

    But I would bet a Mars Bar (if your numbering is concurrent and applicable to “as shot”) that there is only a few seconds between image 105 and 106 and that your expectation of 3 seconds recycle time is over enthusiastic.

    (If your numbering is not “as shot”, then I expect that there was another shot made with a few seconds BEFORE 106)

    The PuF WILL be available to fire, before FULL recycle is achieved.

    WW
    Last edited by William W; 22nd February 2012 at 01:56 AM.

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