Is the iPhone Flash Useful Outdoors?


One of the most popular tricks used by event photographers is to turn on the flash for outdoor portraits. I've used this successfully with DSLRs and compacts. But do you get the same magical benefit from the LED "flash" on the iPhone 5S?

Kathleen and I decided to test this during an assignment photo shoot today. First, I posed her against a bright background and turned on the iPhone flash. As you can see, she was wildly underexposed. With any of my standard cameras, this image would have turned out great.

Then I changed directions and used a shaded area as the background. I wanted to see if the LED could provide any benefit in this type of lighting. We shot with the fill flash on (left), and with the flash turned off (right).

iphone-fill-flash.jpg Fill flash on (left); off (right)

At first I didn't think the flash was making much difference. But later, when I had a chance to compare the images on my Mac, I could see some of the benefits of the LEDs. The skin tones were warmer, eyes brighter, and overall, more glow.

Bottom line is this: with bright, contrasty backgrounds, your iPhone fill flash is like a pea shooter at a bazooka range. But when both subject and background are in open shade, it's worth turning on. Give it a try.

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