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Canon PowerShot SD800 IS - flash does not always work

by Georgia in MS / October 14, 2007 9:05 PM PDT

I used this camera for the first time this weekend. The flash only worked half of the time while in a large room with alot of windows. I was not taking pictures rapidly. I noticed sometimes there would be a 2 to 3 second lag when it would flash.

Is there a problem with the camera? Are there settings I need to change? What are the tips for working with the flash?

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Two Thoughts
by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 15, 2007 1:00 AM PDT

A battery that needs charging will cause the flash to cycle slowly.
The fresher the battery, the faster the flash will cycle.

In a room with lots of windows, if the camera and flash are set to Auto, the camera may sense that it does not need to flash at all.
It can also sense that it only needs a little bit of flash.

If you are getting good pictures under that conditon....the camera and flash are working properly.


The flash has a capacitor that has to charge up to a high voltage before it can work. This can take several seconds.

I suggest you use the two step method when using flash.
Frame you shot and press (and hold) the shutter button half way down.
Then reframe the shot and press the shutter button the rest of the way down.

This give the camera time to recharge the flash capacitor and to autofocus.
Then when you do press the button the rest of the way down, the picture will be captured in less than 1/10th of a second.


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by Georgia in MS / October 16, 2007 11:19 PM PDT
In reply to: Two Thoughts

I'll work on training myself to do the two steps you mentioned.

To be fair to the camera, people were in front of a wall of windows, so the camera was probably seeing all the light and not the people.

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by snapshot2 Forum moderator / October 17, 2007 12:59 AM PDT
In reply to: Thanks!

If the people were in front of a bank of windows....your assumption is correct.

That is called "back-lighting" or a "back-lit" situation.

That is something you want to avoid......if possible.

If you cannot change the location of the people, there are ways to improve your results.

1. Point the camera at the feet of the group and press the shutter button half way down. This will set the exposure for the people, not the window.
While holding the shutter half way down, re-frame your shot and press the shutter the rest of the way down.

You will get a properly exposed shot of the people, but the background will look much too bright.

2. Set the camera to "forced flash" so that it will flash regardless of the exposure readings.
You should get a better shot of the people.
(don't forget to set the flash back to Auto afterwards).

3. For a third method.....combine steps 1. and 2. is still best to move the people to a more suitable location.


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