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Will flash light lose its popularity soon?

edited December 2011 in general photography
Hi everyone,
As I observe the technical progress of light-sensitive media (i.e. digital sensors), I start to wonder will the flash light lose its popularity soon - I mean we use it very often to deal with some harsh light, with unneeded shadows, with ugly (too high) contrast. But sensors tend to have more and more tonal range, and maybe some day we won't need anything like we use today?
Of course, artificial light will always play its role, when we want to have whole frame under control, but, you know, I feel some ways of its use will vanish.
What do you think?


  • StephenStephen Member
    edited December 2011
    I think the immediate threat to portable flash is another source of portable light sources, light LED video lights. These portable constant light sources help shape the light, and you can get immediate feedback on whether the light is good or not.

    Camera manufacturers need to improve high ISO capabilities (i.e. less noise), so you can capture those tonal ranges in less than ideal light. Otherwise, some external light source is needed.
  • Not in the studio. I can see flash becoming less popular with the general public but there are many things you can do with a flash. Like the example where Neil bounced the flash off a wall and the subject looks like they were sitting by a window.

    You can shape light to make things look more interesting. I like Syl Arenas example in his Speedlighters Handbook. He shows an un-crumpled white sheet of paper and then one that was crumpled and made flat again. The un-crumpled sheet is boring while the crumpled one has texture, etc. You can do a lot natural light but the flash I think still a good tool.

    The new tech will certainly make wedding photography better. Often you can't shoot a flash at the ceremony. Some pros won't shoot with flash at the ceremony. I'm floored by the quality of 6400 ISO + shots with the high ISO capable cameras. Just wait till that gets better. Clean shots at 25,600 for an entry level camera. Imagine the pro cameras.
  • great question, but i don't think so. no matter where noise levels go there will always be the question of direction. light coming from camera position is flat and creates only a "shape". this would be considered a fill light in a studio. light brought in from an angle gives the subject "form" or a sense of depth. this would be the main light in a camera room. light that travels across the subject or background creates "texture" and gives us a sense of touch. no matter how good a camera is developed it will never be able to control these three elements of light only record it what is front of this. take a flashlight in a darkened room. aim it at the floor. the carpet is blue, brown or what ever. now hold it at angle from your viewing position. now it is a blue or brown berber, shag etc. lay the flashlight on the floor and feel the rug burn.
  • Neil vNNeil vN Administrator
    I can't see flash waning in popularity.

    The entire Strobist movement in the past years have seen an increase in the use of flash with aspiring photographers. It really has made the technique and equipment accessible to everyone.

    Also, keep in mind that with flash you have a LOT of power in a small unit. Much much more than LED light or any other light source. So if you want portable lighting, then a speedlight can't be beat.
  • I don't know who said it first, but I expect it will be as true in the future as it is today:

    High ISO is no substitute for good light.
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