I'm using a Nikon D5200 and when I use my flash on auto I get a dark bar across the top of the image. When I use the auto but disable the flash the image looks fine. If I turn the camera on its side the flash runs north-south. If I cover the flash with my finger it takes care of most of the darker shaded area, but there seems to be some darker spots where the light leaks around my finger or reflects off of it. I do not see the darker band in live-view.

I've also notice that when I try to shoot bursts in sports mode, the pictures all come out very dark on the top and just barely light on the bottom. So a similar phenomena to what I'm seeing when I use the flash, just more pronounced. Thanks in advance for any help.


enter image description here. D5200 with full auto and flash on. Note darker area on top.


According to Nikon, the D5200 can sync up to 1/200 s., so the 1/60 shutter speed certainly should not be an issue.

Check the following:

  1. What is the flash synchronization mode used in the photo? There are settings for Normal, Rear [curtain] etc. Try different modes to see if one is problematic.

  2. Does the flash fully extend? If there is something in the way, or the the mechanism has been damaged, the flash might be angled downward... this seems most likely.

  3. Try a diffuser (e.g. a layer of handkerchief or tissue) over the flash. If the issue persists, then it is the timing that causes it; but if the contrast between top and bottom is much less, then it is the aim of flash that is the cause. Let us know which is the cause.

BTW, it's common to see the top lighter than the bottom, because lens-hoods can cast shadows.

  • Hi DrMoishe, let me try to respond to your inquiries... 1. I'm not sure how to determine the synchronization, but I did reset everything with the two green button reset. so I assume it is Normal. 2. Yes the flash fully extends/pops up. 3. I placed a tissue over the flags and got the same result except that the dark band was less obvious. Lastly, I'm not using any lens hood/covers, but I do have a UV filter. Also, I'm using the stock lens (18-55) but I see the same issue with other lenses as well.
    – Jeff Clark
    Jul 14 '15 at 2:15
  • If the dark band was less obvious with the tissue in place, this indicates that the flash may not be aligned properly and is pointed too far down. If the flash has an automatic zoom function then it may also be set for too long a focal length (narrower field of view) than the lens is actually set.
    – Michael C
    Jul 14 '15 at 23:17
  • Thanks Michael. Flash is the built-in stock flash and camera is at factor set values. Flash is all the way up, I'm quite sure.
    – Jeff Clark
    Jul 15 '15 at 2:41
  • The reference above, kenrockwell.com/nikon/d5200/users-guide/controls.htm, shows how to check sync mode. Jul 15 '15 at 17:44

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