Being a recent convert to flash photography, I’ve studied a lot of material on how to use it effectively. The consensus is to use flash off-camera and with manual flash settings for creative control over lighting and the important depth-giving shadows. There is no getting away from this.
However, during a recent trip to Amsterdam, I was faced with a photo opportunity that needed extra light and the only thing available was the built-in flash on my Fuji X100T. Highly capable by popular opinion, but I’d never used it and I’ve never even thought about how I could control the lighting. The moment was lost. It makes sense to use what tools we have to get a job done, so I undertook a short exercise to understand my on-camera flash.
The conclusion was it can be very similar, apart from not being movable from the camera and having less control over output levels, and not being able to use any light modifiers. On the upside, the X100T uses a leaf shutter, and allows sync flashes up to 1/2.000th of a second, so it brings a creative advantage when balancing ambient light in bright conditions (plus built-in ND filter if needed). The output of the flash itself can be adjusted through the flash compensation, though it will always be in relation to the measurement it makes through ETTL metering.
There is the possibility of creating images where the subject is at high contrast to the background and, as a process, it keeps one’s mind in tune with ‘flash-thinking’; an exposure for the ambient light and one for the flash light separately. While it is no substitute for a separate flash light, it does offer another tool if travelling light. Something I intend to use more frequently from now on.
Some sample thumbnails, with the ambient light managed through manual exposure.