I rarely use a Speedlite on my camera, it’s almost always off-camera flash. At a recent workshop I was asked how different modifiers change on-camera flash results, so I made three quick pictures to show some results.
The Speedlite 600EX-RT was put on the camera hotshoe, and I used E-TTL automatic flash exposure. Lens was the diminutive EF 40mm f/2.8 STM, and the camera was in manual exposure mode with the settings 1/160s, f/4, ISO 400.
1. On-camera bare flash
What strikes me about this is the bluer tone to the picture, the light from the Speedlite picks up less warmth from the surfaces in the room, particularly the table in front of Jukka.
You can also see very hard-edged shadows around Jukka’s chin, and the right side of his face (camera left).
If you were to zoom in tight to his eyes you’d see only a tiny point of light, the flash head is relatively small.
2. On-camera flash with Lastolite Ezybox Speed Lite 2
Adding the EzyBox Speed Lite 2, you can see the change, shadows are softer around the face. Also the catchlight is larger in the eye because of the larger area of the softbox at this distance.
The colour in this one is warmer, maybe the modifier adds some colour and there’s other warm toned surfaces in the room – the tabletop for a start.
3. On-camera flash with Canon dome diffuser
I must admit, I’m not a fan of the dome diffusers. Most of the time they are simply a waste of a lot of light, and help to use up batteries faster.
There’s no increase in the size of the light, so you still get hard edged shadows. However in this case some light is reflected from “any nearby surface” which does fill the shadows a little. You can also see that the light has gained a warmer tone like the EzyBox picture.
On-camera flash – wrap-up
If you can avoid it, do. A small light that is flat to the subject is not the most flattering look. If you can, try to bounce the flash of a nearby neutral surface, ideally white. Just remember that if you move the camera, the way that the subject is illuminated also changes.
Outdoors in daylight, you cannot bounce off the clouds. I’ve yet to see a Speedlite that has enough power to use clouds as a bounce surface.
Whichever modifier you select, it will need more flash power than a bare flash, use up batteries faster, and the flash will take a little longer to recycle.
A big thank you to my “model” Jukka Kolari, for posing for these shots. He knows that no-one looks their best with on-camera flash, but in the name of photo education was prepared to model for these three pictures. 🙂