How to Adjust the Flash Output on Your Nikon D5500 - dummies

How to Adjust the Flash Output on Your Nikon D5500

By Julie Adair King

In the P, S, A, or M exposure modes on your Nikon D5500, as well as in certain other modes that permit flash, you have some control over flash power, even if you stick with the default, TTL (through the lens) automatic flash metering. If you want a little more or less flash light than the camera thinks is appropriate, you can adjust the flash output by using Flash Compensation.

Flash Compensation settings are stated in terms of exposure value (EV) numbers. A setting of EV 0.0 indicates no flash adjustment; you can increase the flash power to EV +1.0 or decrease it to EV –3.0.

The first image shows a flash‐free shot. Clearly, the flash was needed to compensate for the fact that the horses were shadowed by the roof of the carousel. But at normal flash power, the flash was too strong, creating glare in some spots and blowing out the highlights in the white mane. By dialing the flash power down to EV –1.0, a softer flash was used that straddled the line perfectly between no flash and too much flash.

When normal flash output is too strong, dial in a lower Flash Compensation setting.
When normal flash output is too strong, dial in a lower Flash Compensation setting.

As for boosting the flash output, you may find it necessary on some occasions, but don’t expect the built‐in flash to work miracles even at a Flash Compensation of +1.0. The built‐in flash has a maximum range of about 12 feet; it simply can’t illuminate faraway objects. In other words, don’t even try taking flash pictures of a darkened recital hall from your seat in the balcony — all you’ll wind up doing is annoying everyone.

The current Flash Compensation setting appears in the Information display. If this readout is dimmed, Flash Compensation isn’t available in your current exposure mode. One quirk: Some modes that disable the built‐in flash make the Flash Compensation setting available. What gives? The option is provided solely for use with an external flash head.

Any adjustment you make to the camera’s flash‐exposure setting is added to flash‐power changes you make using the controls on the flash head. The built‐in flash won’t fire no matter what Flash Compensation value you select.

In the Live View display, you see only a symbol indicating that Flash Compensation is enabled. Note that if the feature is turned off (set to EV 0.0), the symbol doesn’t appear in the Live View display.

These symbols represent Flash Compensation.
These symbols represent Flash Compensation.

To adjust the amount of Flash Compensation, use either of these tricks:

  • TwobuttonplusCommanddial maneuver: First, press the Flash button to pop up the built‐in flash. Then press and hold the Flash button and the Exposure Compensation button simultaneously. When you press the buttons, the Flash Compensation value becomes highlighted in the Information and Live View displays. In the viewfinder, the current setting takes the place of the usual Frames Remaining value. While keeping both buttons pressed, rotate the Command dial to adjust the setting.

    Rotate the Command dial while pressing the Flash and Exposure Compensation buttons to adjust the fl
    Rotate the Command dial while pressing the Flash and Exposure Compensation buttons to adjust the flash power.
  • Information or Live View display control strip: Activate the strip by tapping the i icon on the monitor or by pressing the i button. Select the Flash Compensation setting to display a screen where you can set the compensation amount.

    You also can adjust the setting by using the Information display control strip.
    You also can adjust the setting by using the Information display control strip.

When you use one of the Scene modes, the Flash Compensation setting is reset to 0.0 when you turn off the camera or switch to a different Scene mode. In other exposure modes, the flash‐power adjustment remains in force until you reset the value, even if you turn off the camera. So be sure to check the setting before you next use the flash.

If you’re experienced in the way of the flash, you can manually set flash output via the Flash Cntrl for Built‐in Flash option, found in the Bracketing/Flash section of the Custom Setting menu. The normal setting is TTL (for automatic, through‐the‐lens metering), but if you select Manual, you can access the power settings, which range from Full to 1/32 power.

Using this option, you can control the flash output manually.
Using this option, you can control the flash output manually.

When flash is set to manual control, the TTL icon that normally appears in the upper‐right corner of the Information display is replaced by the letter M. In the viewfinder, an icon that looks like the Information screen’s Flash Compensation icon (a lightning bolt with a plus‐minus sign) blinks.