Light is the single most important aspect of taking photos, and nearly every camera comes with a ton of options to adjust how the camera uses and adjusts to light. This article describes the flash modes and options related to using flash on your Sony Alpha a5100.

Although many advanced flash photography techniques are beyond the scope for this camera, the Sony a5100 still has plenty of options that enhance the use of the built-in pop-up flash.

There are several flash modes on the a5100, and until the popup flash is opened, the default mode is off. Once you click the Flash button on the left-hand side at the top of the camera, the flash will pop up and into position, and the flash mode is switched to Auto. There are several flash modes:

  • Autoflash
    Autoflash is the default flash mode with the popup flash opened. Auto mode will fire a preliminary flash before taking a photo to determine how much flash and how to adjust any other automatic settings (based on your shooting mode).
  • Fill-flash
    Fill flash mode will sync the timing of the flash with the front (or first) shutter curtain. This is the default firing time for most camera flash units. When used with very slow shutter speeds, Fill flash will create streaks of color in front of moving objects, as there is more exposure at the beginning of the open shutter.
  • Slow Sync
    Slow sync fires the flash at the beginning curtain like fill-flash mode, but will tell the camera to use a longer shutter speed than normal. This is useful for certain situations, such as night shots.
  • Rear Sync
    Rear Sync, as you might imagine, times the flash with the rear (or second) shutter certain. When used with very slow shutter speeds, Fill flash will create streaks of color behind moving objects, and is useful for creative effects like light painting.

You can switch between the flash modes by pressing the Menu button on the back of the camera, navigating to the second page of the Camera settings tab (camera icon), then scrolling down and selecting Flash Mode. Note: some flash modes are unavailable depending on your selected shooting mode.

Popup Flash Tip

In some situations, using the flash may be necessary, but can often produce harsh light or shadows on or around your subject.

However, we have discovered a simple trick that can help alleviate the issue. Since the popup flash is on a hinge, simply tilt the flash back when taking your photo. Depending on the environment, this can reduce the amount of direct light from the flash onto the subject, and create more of a bounce flash effect. Experiment with different angles of the flash for varying levels of effect.