How to Adjust the Flash Output (P, S, A, and M Modes Only) on Your Nikon D5300

By Julie Adair King

In the P, S, A, or M exposure modes on your Nikon D5300, 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.

As an example of the benefit of this feature, look at the carousel images. The first image shows a flash-free shot. It needed a flash to compensate for the fact that the horses were shadowed by the roof of the carousel. At normal flash power, as shown in the middle image, 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 –0.7, it resulted in a softer flash that straddled the line perfectly between no flash and too much flash.

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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.

The current Flash Compensation setting appears in the Information display. In the Live View display, you see only a symbol indicating that the feature 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.

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

  • Use the two-button-plus-Command-dial 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 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.

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  • Use the control strip. Just press the i button to activate the control strip, and highlight the Flash Compensation setting. Press OK to display a screen where you can set the compensation amount.

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Any 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.