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Choosing Flash Modes for a Canon EOS Rebel T3 Series Camera

The built-in flash on your Canon Rebel T3 or T3i offers an easy, convenient way to add light to a too-dark scene. But whether you can use flash or opt to go flash-free depends on your exposure mode.

Using flash in the fully automatic modes

In the following exposure modes, you have zero control over whether the flash fires. And whether flash is even a possibility depends on the exposure mode. Here’s how things shake out:

  • Scene Intelligent Auto (T3i), Full Auto (T3), Portrait, Close-up, and Night Portrait: If the camera thinks extra light is needed, it automatically raises and fires the built-in flash.

  • Landscape, Sports, and Flash Off modes: Flash is disabled.

Using flash in Creative Auto mode

Creative Auto mode gives you some input over various picture characteristics, including whether flash is used. In fact, you can choose from three flash modes:

  • Auto flash: The camera decides when to fire the flash, basing its decision on the lighting conditions.

  • On: The flash fires regardless of the lighting conditions. This option causes the built-in flash to pop up as soon as you press the shutter button halfway.

  • Off: The flash does not fire, no way, no how. Even if the built-in flash is raised because you used it on the previous shot, it still won’t fire until you shift the flash mode to Auto or On. (If you’re not planning to use the flash, just press it down gently to close it.)

You can view the current flash setting in the Shooting Settings screen.

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To change the flash mode, press the Quick Control button and navigate to the flash setting. Then press Set to display a screen showing all three flash options. Select your choice and press Set again.

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Enabling flash in the advanced exposure modes

In the P, Tv, Av, M, and A-DEP modes, you don’t choose from the Auto, On, and Off flash modes available in Creative Auto mode. Instead, if you want to use the built-in flash, you simply press the Flash button on the side of the camera. The flash unit pops up, and the flash fires on your next shot.

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You do, however, have access to several flash options that aren’t available in the fully automatic exposure modes or Creative Auto mode.

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Using Red-Eye Reduction flash

Red-eye is caused when flash light bounces off a subject’s retinas and is reflected back to the camera lens. Red-eye is a human phenomenon, though; with animals, the reflected light usually glows yellow, white, or green.

Man or beast, this issue isn't nearly the problem with the type of pop-up flash found on your T3 or T3i as it is on non-SLR cameras. Your camera's flash is positioned above the lens, a position that lessens the chances of red-eye. However, red-eye may still be an issue when you use a lens with a long focal length (a telephoto lens) or you shoot subjects from a distance.

If you do notice red-eye in your flash photos, you can try enabling Red-Eye Reduction flash. When you turn on this feature, the Red-Eye Reduction Lamp on the front of the camera lights up when you press the shutter button halfway. The purpose of this light is to attempt to shrink the subject’s pupils, which helps reduce the amount of light that enters the eye and, thus, the chances of that light reflecting and causing red-eye. The flash itself fires when you press the shutter button the rest of the way. (Be sure to warn your subjects to wait for the flash, or they may step out of the frame or stop posing after they see the light from the Red-Eye Reduction Lamp.)

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