Which species do flash photography harm?

Hello! I am an amateur interested in macro photography, and I often use flash to capture clear pictures. However, my principle is to not disturb my photography subjects, and I’m wondering if using flash might cause harm. I mainly photograph arthropods.


I don’t think it is even possible to harm a regular arthropode by flash, their eyes are completely different structurally and in my opinion not having anything eyelid-like their nerves just have to be prepared for any amount of sunlight that can suddenly happen.
upd. Google says you can harm them temporaly by lazor, but why would you do that? So quick camera flashes shouldn’t cause a singnificant harm.


Compared to how many arthropods are killed by a car driving down the road a few miles, flash photography isn’t something to be concerned about–even if it killed them on the spot. Habitat destruction and pesticides are the primary sources of harm. Do things that negate those, and flash away without worry!


Some deep sea fish such as Spotted Ratfish can be killed by a sudden flash of light. If you’re photographing anything other than that, it’s probably fine.


then perhaps also cave dwelling species


If we talk about cave arthropodes, they’re doing just fine with each photo of them being made with flashlight. :D


No, using a flash is perfectly fine, and recommended if you want higher quality photos that can be identified easier. Many flies and other insects are light-sensitive though, so they will fly away once you take a photo.


A bit off topic, but autofocus on a DSLR uses a small laser I believe. Does this affect birds at all?


But it’s infrared, birds shouldn’t even detect it.


Ok, thanks for that. I’ve always wondered…!

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FWIW I recently stopped using a flash for daytime photography in favor of auto ISO and high ISO. Modern SLRs and mirrorless cameras can easily take IDable photos at 6400 ISO. The savings in weight carried into the field and ease of handholding is totally worth it IMHO.


Your ease of access might be better, but the quality of photos decreases greatly with high ISO.

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Not for macro, you need the lowest iso possible, not 6400 for sure, it’s not a way for regular photos too.

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The newer Canon and Nikon DSLRs are dramatically better at noise reduction. Mine is 10 years old and ISO 800 is the max usable in any situation, 200 in macro. That 200 is equivalent to about 1600 on the newest models, and 6400 is still very good. It’s kind of shocking having been used to always using low ISO for so long (my small digital camera is terrible even at 200).

Which models do you have in mind? I don’t know about d4, d5+ models as they’re too expensive for me right now, now using d750 which is quite old, but still popular and have good iso (comparing to d5000 series) and 1600 is not an iso for good shots, surely I shot with bigger iso when I go for birds and it’s already quite dark, but there’s no way such photos would count as good ones in means of photography, if we just say it observation-wise snapshots, then yeah, sure.

I like to equate it with film - the higher the ASA, the faster it was and the coarser the photosensitive grains were. Making an enlargement would result in a grainy picture. I assume cameras operate on a similar principle, except with pixels.

The ones I’ve compared are the Canon T6i/750D and T7i/800D (for some reason they have different names in Europe and the US), versus my T1i/500D which is over 10 years old. I actually haven’t tried the Nikon ones but I assume they’re similar.

I don’t know if it HARMS them, it certainly doesn’t go unnoticed.
Photographing a plant, I noticed the nymph of a grasshopper sitting on it.

This was the second photo, without extra light. When I first switched over to macro mode*, however, I hadn’t paid attention to the settings, and ended up flashing the poor creature. Look at the antennae:

It does look tense, doesn’t it?

  • Taken with Olympus TG-6.

if you flash a deer it may freeze for a microsecond and trip and hurt itself


High ISO is much more of an issue with small sensors rather than with full-frame DSLRs.

Just use a denoise programme afterwards on those shots. DxO PureRAW and Topaz DeNoise AI are excellent at it. I know, I use MFT mirrorless cameras (MFT = m4/3 = micro four thirds) because the system is lighter and smaller than DSLR gear.