7

I'm taking a lot of low-light indoor shots of moving subjects. I hate a the default flip-up flashes of most moderns DSLRs (in my case, a Canon 60D), but this is typically a point and shoot situation (so, no external flash or setups).

Are there any tricks to make the flash less stark/harsh and contrasty, in the settings or by using some external trick?

4

I'm going to say no. MikeW's advice on using a high ISO and longer shutter is good, and you can do little bounce card and diffuser gimmicks, but the absolute difference these make just isn't enough — the built-in flash still will suck.

Most importantly, these gimmicks and other tricks and techniques run against one of your fundamental requirements: no setup. You're going to have a thing to fiddle with, and something to worry about. In many situations it'd be less hassle to do something which will make a big, positive difference: use a hotshoe flash, or use a wireless-TTL flash off-camera triggered by the built-in flash. For the latter, you can put your flash somewhere convenient and out of the way in the room (on a bookcase, say, pointed at the ceiling). This is some setup, but not really very involved. I do it all the time for pictures of my family.

3

You can try little diffusers and bounce devices, but they have limited effect.

Obviously use the fastest glass and highest ISO you can.

Let in as much ambient light as possible. Just because the flash is on, don't let the camera select 1/200 and be the sole source of light. The more ambient light you have, the less contrast you'll have with the flash. Even with subjects moving, set the shutter speed as low as you can, and dial in some negative flash exposure compensation.

I would start without flash, and let's say the right ambient exposure is f/2.8 and 1/15th second. I would then bump the shutter speed to 1/30th or 1/60th and try the flash with -1 EV and adjust from there.

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