What is the use of on-camera and off-camera flash in photography? What is recommended?
Portrait Photography Basic Photography Low Light Photography
January 11, 2017

Firstly let us define flash photography. To define a flash, it is an artificial light emitting device used in photography to fire a flashing light to illuminate a scene. The speed at which light is generally emitted is in the range of 1/1000 sec to 1/200 sec. Now what is on camera and off camera flash? They mean exactly what their names say. On camera flash is when you have the flash attached to the body of your camera and you may guess what would therefore be the meaning of an off camera flash.


source   (ON Camera Flash)


source   (OFF Camera Flash)

When you really shoot a lot on flash, you will get an idea of when you require an on camera flash or an off camera one. Let us come to the uses of both:

On camera flash – With the external flash attached to your camera, you will not have a lot of control over the direction of light. It will be coming straight off your camera. The biggest challenge here is to hide the fact that you have used a flash! Otherwise, the light on your subject will be harsh and artificial. It will cast very strong shadows and disturb your photograph. As long as you are able to fill the shadows perfectly and maintain the volume of natural light, on camera flash will work perfectly. This will produce beautiful images and provide a different perspective to photographs with off camera flash since the directions of light will be different. In locations which lack space, an on camera flash will have to be used to illuminate your subject. Every time I begin shooting with an on camera flash, I prefer to keep the flash dial value at -1 and vary accordingly.

Off camera flash – Switching from an attached flash to an off camera one will make a world of difference. Using an off camera flash means you have far more control of light and direction of it. This always looks more natural and acts as a perfect fill light during the day and can even be the key light when used in the dark. In any case light coming straight off the camera never looks as real as the one coming from a different direction. While shooting outdoor during the day time, use your flash as a fill light. Maintain proper balance of exposure to get the perfect shot.

Shooting indoors – As expected, this is the most obvious location to shoot with flash. But I will continue saying that instead of directly having your flash pointed at your subject, try bouncing it off walls to soften the light considerably. This refers to the usage of an off camera flash. This softens the light considerably.



There are no rules in photography. Experiment with your own settings, with both the flash lights, on camera and off camera flash lights. Keep a note of the lighting tone each of them has to offer. Then you can go ahead and decide which suits you more for there is an absolute freedom of choice!

Portrait Photography Basic Photography Low Light Photography
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