How to Control Flash Output on the Nikon D3300 - dummies

How to Control Flash Output on the Nikon D3300

By Julie Adair King

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 on the Nikon D3300, found on the Shooting menu and featured in this figure.

Flash control for built-in flash

The normal setting is TTL (for automatic, through-the-lens metering), but if you select Manual, as shown on the right in the figure, and then press the Multi Selector right, 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 (refer to the figure) is replaced by the letter M. In the viewfinder, an icon that looks like a lightning bolt with a plus-minus sign blinks.

Using flash outdoors

Adding flash can often improve outdoor photos. But be aware of two “gotchas” when mixing flash and sunlight:

  • Colors may need tweaking. When you combine multiple light sources, colors may appear warmer or cooler than neutral. For outdoor portraits, the warming effect is usually flattering, and you might like the result with nature shots as well. But if you prefer a neutral color rendition, you can adjust white balance only in P, S, A, and M exposure modes.

  • Keep an eye on shutter speed. Because of the way the camera needs to synchronize the firing of the flash with the opening of the shutter, the fastest shutter speed you can use with the built-in flash is 1/200 second. In bright sun, you may need to stop down the aperture significantly or lower the ISO to avoid overexposing the image even at 1/200 second.

    As another option, you can place a neutral density filter over the lens; this accessory reduces the light that comes through the lens without affecting colors. Of course, if possible, you can simply move your subject into the shade.

    On the flip side, the camera may select a shutter speed as slow as 1/60 second in the P and A modes, depending on the lighting conditions. If your subject is moving, it’s a good idea to work in the S or M mode so that you control the shutter speed.

In sync: Flash timing and shutter speed

To properly expose flash pictures, the camera has to synchronize the firing of the flash with the opening and closing of the shutter. For this reason, the range of available shutter speeds is limited when you use flash. The maximum shutter speed is 1/200 second; the minimum shutter speed varies, depending on the exposure mode. Here’s how things shake out for the exposure modes that permit you to use flash:

  • Auto and Effects and Scene modes that permit flash, except Night Portrait: 1/60 second

  • Nighttime Portrait: 1 second

  • P, A: 1/60 second (unless you use one of the Slow-Sync Flash modes, which permit a slower shutter speed)

  • S: 30 seconds

  • M: 30 seconds (you can exceed that limit if the shutter speed is set to Bulb or Time)

Remember, flash isn’t available in certain Scene and Effects modes and is also off-limits when you use the Continuous (burst shooting) Release mode.