I just got a new (to me) Nikon D70s to see if the DSLR world is right for me. My dad took this picture of me:

The food is hot!

In the middle of the bottom there's a rather large semicircle of shadow. Is this caused by the built in flash? If so, how can I avoid it (if I keep using the flash). Interestingly enough, when I shoot portrait instead of landscape, the semicircle doesn't appear.

  • 1
    It is disheartening that this image was tainted with the poor shadow, as this capture of you is phenomenal.
    – dpollitt
    Dec 4 '13 at 3:35
  • 1
    Take heart, for a bit of cropping should preserve the phenomenon, however. Dec 4 '13 at 9:34
  • Just like to add - removing that shadow (or reducing how noticeable it is) could be achieved quite quickly in Photoshop (or similar) - definitely worth the effort on such a keeper.
    – dav1dsm1th
    Dec 4 '13 at 11:04
  • Looks like the shadow of a finger partly obsuring the flash. This is can be easy to do on some cameras with built-in flashes, especially for someone not familiar with the camera. Dec 4 '13 at 15:06
  • Friend is having same issue, no lens hood fx 70-200 lens, any ideas why? And it's not her finger in the way. Dec 8 '18 at 2:17

The most typical reasoning for this circular obstruction is the use of a lens hood that is obstructing the flash. It could also be caused by a rather large lens itself getting in the way as well. A similar effect can be found when a wide angle lens is used that is beyond the coverage of the flash.

I would consider what lenses you were using, at what focal length, and with or without a lens hood. Adjust the combination of these things and you will resolve this issue. It is of course possible that you will have to remove the lens hood to effectively use the built in flash. Alternatively you could use an external flash mounted on the hot shoe(Yongnuo option), or off camera by using any one of a number of techniques to get the flash further from the lens(this will also improve other aspects of flash beyond resolving this issue).

  • In my personal experience on a similar APS-C camera, I had to remember when I used my 10-22mm lens to not also use the flash - or the shadow became a serious issue. I would guess anywhere below about 17mm on your D70S you might have shadows with a standard sized lens(no hood). But I have not performed any scientific tests, just going off of memory here.
    – dpollitt
    Dec 4 '13 at 3:37
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    Yeah, I only have the one lens (18-70mm), and it seems after a few more tests that even a shot at 18mm has the shadow. After reading a few answers on here I'm definitely going to be looking into some prime lenses as I get some more experience (and funds ;) Dec 4 '13 at 12:19
  • 2
    If this shadow is what you are worried about, investing in a decent flash gun might be an idea as well. There also are decent 3rd party flashes available that don't hurt as much, financially speaking, as the Nikon ones probably do (I'm a Canon guy)/
    – Cornelius
    Dec 4 '13 at 14:25
  • @Cornelius - This is the Nikon 3rd party flash that I would look at - amzn.com/B006R6TUJI , Only $100 USD!
    – dpollitt
    Dec 4 '13 at 14:31
  • Looks like the Nikon version of my flash, which I find pretty good. :)
    – Cornelius
    Dec 4 '13 at 14:42

The shadow is most likely from the lens/lens hood which block part of the beam from the flash, since build in flashes are generally not high enough to reach above many of the lenses/lens hoods.

I would probably consider to use something that you can put in front of the flash that can bounce the beam to a ceiling, if you are indoor and the ceiling is not too far away. For example a business card or something similar should do the trick.


shadow monster

Lens hoods attached to super-zoom kit lenses contain a shadow monster that is released when exposed to light from the built-in flash. Remove the hood to avoid letting the monster escape into your photos.

@mattdm, @dpollitt, @YaoBoLu, and @JohnGleeson are all correct. Light from the built-in flash hitting the lens hood casts a shadow. If the lens is large enough, it may cast a shadow on its own without a hood. You have many options to try avoiding the problem:

  • Don't use flash.
  • Remove the hood.
  • Use a smaller lens.
  • Zoom in or out until the shadow isn't visible.
  • Re-orient the camera so the shadow doesn't fall on a foreground object.
  • Use a larger on-camera flash.
  • Use an off-camera flash.
  • Point the flash at a wall or the ceiling. (Some built-in flashes tilt.)
  • Use a diffuser to soften the shadow.
  • Use a bounce card.

Here's a before and after using a business-card bounce. A larger card would have been easier to use. The bounce was pretty weak, but not hopeless. Used +3 EC to compensate. (The 2-cent flash diffuser works better.)

before after


I believe the shadow is definitely caused by the lens and made worse if the lens hood is on. If you take multiple shots (with the lens hood off) and vary the focal length you should see a difference in the shadow effect. In my experience (18 to 300 Nikon), the shadow was pronounced at 18 mm, reduced at 30mm and gone at about 45 mm. The smaller lens (18 to 50mm), has no problem. All these tests were using built in flash. A hot shoe flash may prevent the problem. Hope this helps.


The flash on the camera seems to be tipped too far forward. If you take off the hood and carefully tip the flash back slightly with your finger, the shadow disappears.

  • 2
    The flash was the built in flash - no hood involved Nov 23 '18 at 4:32

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