Flash Types

Built-in Flash

This is a flash unit built into the camera body. Although it is easy to use, it has a comparatively low output because of its compact size. Since it uses the camera battery to fire, frequent use may result in consumption of battery power that could otherwise be used for the camera itself. Using the built-in flash too often eats up battery life.

External Flash Units

This type of flash unit mounts on the camera's hot shoe (socket with electrical contacts). It comes with its own battery, it's easy to use, and it has a high output. The Olympus FL-900R falls into this category. There are also external flash units made for specific types of photography, like the STF-8 Macro Flash, designed for macro photography.

Large Flash Units

These have a flash head plus a separate power source, usually mounted on a stand. The flash is quick to reach full power after being fired. That short recycle time plus stable firing makes for stress-free shooting. Some models have an integrated power source or dedicated battery. The output display is measured in watts (W) rather than with a guide number (GN).

They're generally used for commercial photography (although some units are affordable for nonprofessionals), and most photographers will use an umbrella or light box rather than exposing the flash heads.

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