BetterPhoto Q&A
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Photography Question 
Lou Bellman

Flash going multiple times in low light

I have an Olympus EVolt 350, which I just purchased a month ago. I've found that in low light, with the flash on, and just before opening the shutter the flash with fire x amount (it varies) of times.

Is this the cameras way of metering? If it is what can I do\change, short of more light, to not make it do that?

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1/24/2007 6:12:47 PM

Alan N. Marcus   Hi Lou,
Red-eye plagues pictures produced by cameras with built-in-flash. Professionals prefer a flash that is dismounted and held some distance from the lens. You see; when a flash is on axis with the lens (very very close) light from the flash enters the subject's eye. Now the back of the human eye is rich with blood so light reflected back out takes on an unpleasant red. As I told you, the best countermeasure is to dismount the flash to get some separation between flash and lens.

Modern cameras have an anti-red-eye mode. When set to this mode, the flash fires once or as in your case, many quick low intensity blinks just before taking the picture. After this sequence the shutter opens and the flash fires once at full intensity.

The idea is to cause a phototropism. This is a reflex action that causes the iris (the colored portion of the human eye named for the goddess of the rainbow)to contract. In other words, the eye pupil becomes small in diameter reducing the probability of red-eye. You can alter the camera setting so your flash won’t blink. If you do, you’ll get lots of red eyes.

Enjoy your hobby,

Alan Marcus

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1/24/2007 8:43:47 PM

Jon Close
BetterPhoto Member Since: 5/18/2000
  Besides the red-eye reduction feature, the camera also uses the flash as an AF Illuminator to help autofocus in dim light. This feature can also be disabled (in the Menu, under the "wrench" 1 settings).

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1/25/2007 5:54:44 AM

Lou Bellman   Jon C, that was it! Greatly appreciated!

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1/25/2007 10:45:54 PM

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