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This post was most recently updated on November 13th, 2022

Are you looking to take better photographs and wondering if it’s time for TTL flash? Maybe you have heard people mentioning TTL flash and want to know what it is? Or perhaps you aren’t sure how to use TTL flash and want some guidance? Whatever your reason might be, we have the answer for you!

We know how challenging it can be to get the perfect lighting in a shot. Whether we are working with multiple external flashes or the one on our camera, it can be tricky to know how the image will turn out until the flash is taken. And if it’s not quite right, our photographs can look awful.

Instead of being wonderfully well-balanced shots, we end up with dodgy lighting, disgruntled clients, and photographs that we can’t shift.

Before you know it, your work is gathering dust, unseen by anyone, unloved by all. You start to wonder if photography is even the right path for you and debate hanging up your camera forever.

Well, no more! Today we are here with the answers you need. We have your potential white knight to save the day, TTL flash. Keep reading to find out all you need to know about TTL flash, how to use it, and if it’s the right flash for you and your photographs.

What Is A TTL Flash?

Before we dive into how to use TTL flash, let’s have a recap for those in the room that need it. TTL flash, or through the lens metering, is a type of Speedlite that you can use while taking flash photography.

These Speedlites are often built into your camera as pop-up flashes, placed on top of cameras, or in larger flashes incorporated into monolights or strobe lights. Many Speedlites and monolights feature TTL, so it’s worth familiarizing yourself with it, even if you aren’t sure it’s the right flash for you!

TTL is a flash mode that is similar to the automatic mode on a mirrorless or digital camera. So how does it work? TTL will read the exposure going through the camera lens, giving it its name through the lens. It will use the camera’s built-in metering system and the distance to the subject to give you the best lighting for the shot.

TTL flash uses a series of infrared flash bursts before the flash fires. The flash information is then returned to the camera, which will adjust the flash power accordingly to create a well-balanced shot.

So does it work? Generally, it works fairly well, but there are downsides. You can sometimes get flat and dull images with underexposed backgrounds. A TTL flash isn’t too bothered about the background and focuses solely on exposing the subject evenly.

If that is all you crave, then it’s the ideal option! But if you also want backgrounds with depth and exposure, you might need to spend some time getting to grips with TTL flash and adjusting it to meet your needs.

TTL is a massive selling point for many companies, and it tends to be more expensive than manual only flashes, so be sure to check your budget before deciding if it’s the right choice for you!

These days, lots of flash options will come with this TTL feature, so you can expect to see it wherever you end up searching for your next camera and flash.

TTL flash might not be for everyone, but it does have some massive benefits and takes the worry of balancing the shot out of your hands. Now that we have covered what it is and how it works let’s see how you use TTL flash.

How To Use TTL Flash?

Although it can sound a little complicated, it isn’t too tricky to use TTL flash. TTL flash is an automatic setting that requires very little work from you! It’s a dream for those photographers that don’t like to spend the first 30 minutes of a photoshoot adjusting their camera’s settings to suit the environment. Instead, the camera and TTL setting will do it all for you!

To use TTL flash, press your flashgun’s menu button and select the TTL option. And just like that, you are ready to go! If you aren’t sure where to locate your menu button, be sure to check your flashgun for the camera’s user manual for more information.

Remember, if you have misplaced your manual, search for a pdf version online by looking up the make and model of your camera or flash.

After turning on the TTL flash function, your Speedlite will get to work once you press the shutter! It will see how much light is required according to the camera’s exposure reading and shoot the shot as needed.

It’s worth noting that TTL flash isn’t the easiest function to adjust and customize, and it can be done mainly through flash and exposure compensation tools. Here you can turn down or up the flash slightly if needed to suit your needs.

Often, photographers will not adjust the TTL flash and leave it to adjust the flash based on its readings. It’s a handy tool for those that don’t want to adjust their flash for every shot. You won’t need to worry about over or underexposing your shots, making your job a little easier.

Is TTL Better Than A Manual Flash?

Deciding which mode is better is a personal choice and one we cannot make for you. However, both TTL flash and manual flash have advantages and disadvantages that you should consider before making your recession.

TTL flash is ideal when the distance between the flash and the subject changes quickly. For example, when photographing weddings, you are likely to encounter different lighting, especially as you move closer to and further away from the subjects. TTL flash here will help to avoid inaccurate exposures and get the perfect shots for the happy couple.

However, as we mentioned earlier, TTL flash can sometimes leave you with backgrounds that aren’t evenly exposed. You will want to consider this and the importance of your background before opting for TTL flash. This does not happen with every shot, but it’s best to be aware of it before proceeding with your photographs.

On the other hand, manual flash is best used when you want control over the light source. Here you won’t need to rely on the camera, but make your own judgment calls and can adjust the lighting to suit you. It’s ideal to use manual mode when the distance between the subject and the flash doesn’t change rapidly.

However, manual mode is a little tricky to master, and it can take some time to understand manual mode and operate it in a way that is best for you. Don’t be disheartened, though; there are plenty of tutorials out there that can help you understand manual mode.

As a general rule of thumb, though, we think TTL flash is best for beginners and more experienced Flash photographers in manual mode.

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, an explanation of TTL flash and how to use it! As you can see, the setting is super easy to use and takes away the stress of perfecting the light for ideal exposure out of your hands.

However, it isn’t always the best option for everyone, so be sure to take some time to familiarize yourself with all the settings on your camera and flash to find the one that best suits you and your photography.