PFRE is the original online resource for real estate and interior photographers. Since 2006, it has been a community hub where like-minded professionals from around the world gather to share information with a common goal of improving their work and advancing their business. With thousands of articles, covering hundreds of topics, PFRE offers the most robust collection of educational material in our field. The history of real estate photography has been documented within these pages.
All Articles


Woman tweaking the pixels per inch of her images in Lightroom

Do you want to create more defined real estate photos? We're sharing how many pixels per inch can produce high-quality image resolution.



The PFRE Community Forum is an online resource for discussing the art and business of Real Estate and Interior Photography.
Join The Discussion


View Now


For over a decade, photographers from around the world have participated in PFRE’s monthly photography contests, culminating in the year-end crowning of PFRE’s Photographer of the Year. With a new theme each month and commentary offered by some of the finest real estate & interior photographers anywhere, these contests offer a fun, competitive environment with rich learning opportunities. 

Contest Rules


View / Submit


View Archive


PFRE prides itself on the depth and breadth of the information and professional development resources it makes available to our community. Our goal is to help real estate and interior photographers be successful while bringing the community together and elevating the industry as a whole.

Conference News

No items found

How to Use External Flash on Nikon

Published: 16/09/2021

An off-camera flash is an essential photography tool because it serves as the primary or accent light. However, using it isn't the same as popping up a camera's built-in flash. We're teaching you how to use external flash on Nikon to achieve the best exposure for your real estate photos.

How to Use External Flash on Nikon

To use an external flash on a Nikon camera, make sure to mount the off-camera flash properly. Then, reset the flash settings before selecting the flash, shooting, and shutter synchronization modes. After that, you can adjust the ISO, flash exposure compensation, and angle of the flash head.

Whether you have a full-frame, crop-sensor, or mirrorless Nikon camera, learning to use it with an external flash can make all the difference in your real estate photos. Let's go over the steps on how you can use a flash with a Nikon camera.

A Nikon camera with external flash

Step-By-Step Guide on Using an External Flash on a Nikon Camera

An external flash fires out a pre-flash to the subject, then sends data for your Nikon camera to process and fire again to take the shot. This happens after choosing the appropriate flash, shooting, and shutter modes. You also must consider the ISO and flash exposure compensation.

Mount the Flash on the Camera

First, make sure to insert the off-camera flash into your Nikon camera's hot shoe. Improper installation may prevent the flash from functioning correctly. Slide the foot lock lever to lock the flash into place.

Select a Flash Mode

The next step is to choose either manual or TTL from the flash control settings. Some external flashes offer both options, while others only have manual flash mode. 

Some speedlights also have E-TTL as the default flash mode, which is suitable if you want to take photos using the exposure from your Nikon camera's metering system.

Pick a Shooting Mode

While you can usually choose any shooting mode, it's vital that you select a shooting mode appropriate for the type of photos you need to take.

From the camera's mode dial, choose Shutter Priority if you want to capture moving subjects, much like in street or event photography. Meanwhile, it would be better to opt for Aperture Priority if you need to collect lots of light for architecture or real estate photography. 

Choose a Shutter Synchronization Mode

Flash sync is a crucial factor when using an external flash on a Nikon camera. It determines the fastest shutter speed for your camera to create an exposure in each fire of flash power.

You can use high-speed sync if you need the shutter speed to be higher than the maximum speed that your off-camera flash can synchronize.

Another option is the first-curtain sync, which is perfect if you want motion blur. The second-curtain sync is ideal if you need to shoot trails using ambient light.

Modify ISO Speed

The ISO speed affects a Nikon camera's sensitivity. The higher the value, the more ambient light will enter the scene. In general, it's best to shoot with a lower ISO to minimize image noise.

Apply a Flash Exposure Compensation 

Adjust the exposure compensation from the Quick Control screen. This would instruct the external flash to produce more or less flash power relative to what your Nikon camera determined. Likewise, it would only influence the ambient exposure, so there would be no changes in background brightness.

Set the Flash Power

Choose the flash power according to your aperture or flash-to-subject distance. Boost the flash power if the room is too dim or has lots of shadows. On the other hand, turn down the flash power if your initial shots appear harshly lit.

You can further improve the flash power's coverage by angling the flash head correctly. For real estate photography, you can typically bounce the flash toward the ceiling or wall. You can also use a reflector, softbox, or umbrella for more control.

External flash inserted with four batteries

Tips on Using Manual Flash on Nikon Cameras

The latest Nikkei report shows that Nikon has 19.1% of the market share in digital camera shares. As you continue to be among the real estate photographers who rely on Nikon camera systems, there will come a time when you would also need to invest in a manual flash.

The great thing about manual flashes is that it offers you more control over the light source. It's also ideal if the distance between the flash and the subject doesn't change quickly, much like when shooting interiors or exteriors.

  • After creating your composition, modify the aperture and shutter speed settings to get the correct ambient exposure. Larger apertures make the flash power more effective.
  • Once in manual mode, try setting the power to 1/1 to enable the flash's full capacity. If it's too much, go down to 1/2 power setting or lower. Use a flash meter if you need help calculating this.
  • You can also use a colored gel to change the flash output's color.

Tips on Using TTL Flash on Nikon Cameras 

About 44% of real estate buyers go online to search for properties. You can use a TLL flash with your Nikon camera if you need a simple way to produce well-lit online marketing photos for your clients.

An external TTL flash uses built-in flash sensors to measure flash illumination automatically. While you can still select the aperture and ISO speed, a TTL flash would control the exposure automatically instead of the Nikon camera.

  • Consider the focal length used in a TTL flash's zoom head.
  • Ideally, choose Aperture Priority mode. 
  • Select Automatic mode if your flash won't let you adjust the aperture. Divide the flash's guide number to get the flash-subject distance or the aperture.
  • Opt for a shutter speed that is slower than the shutter synchronization speed.
  • Try getting a sample shot. The flash sensor should scale the illumination coverage and cut the power without the camera interrupting the process.


Photographers must have external flashes in their camera bags. Like when using a light modifier or lens, there are several shooting options you can experiment with to get the best results. With this simple guide, you can improve your flash photography and produce well-lit real estate images.