How to Turn Off Flash on a Nikon D3200

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Although a camera flash can be helpful when shooting in poor lighting, it can cause irredeemable overexposure or glare, especially when shooting shiny surfaces. Learning how to turn off the flash on a Nikon D3200 will help you have better control over the lighting and illumination of your subject.

How to Turn off the Flash on a Nikon D3200

The Nikon D3200 comes with a built-in flash that can help you illuminate your subject when shooting in poor lighting. However, since it comes with a 24.2 megapixels CMOS sensor, it can capture bright and sharp photos even in low light, and you might not need the flash.

A man teaching on how to turn off flash on a Nikon D3200

Also, the flash might drain your battery faster, yet it might be flashing in unnecessary situations. For instance, if the flash flashes when you are capturing landscapes or architectural photos, it can’t illuminate the scene and will be draining your battery unnecessarily.

The camera flash might also unnecessarily capture people’s attention during street photography or frighten your subjects in wildlife photography. Depending on the mode you use your Nikon D3200 in, you can turn off the flash using the following steps.

Switch to Auto Mode Flash Off

Like most modern cameras, the D3200 comes with the auto mode, which allows the camera to control the members of the exposure triangle and other useful settings such as white balance and focus depending on how the algorithm detects the scene.

Although this might be the best mode to use if you are a beginner or when you don’t know the correct settings to use for your composition, the camera’s algorithm might misinterpret the lighting conditions and unnecessarily turn on the camera flash.

Fortunately, the D3200 has a Flash Off option when using the auto mode. Typically, this mode operates like the regular auto mode, only that the flash will be disabled. Simply turn on the camera and rotate the mode dial wheel to the Auto Flash Off to turn off the flash.

Shoot in Program Mode

The Program mode is like the auto mode, where the camera detects and controls the important members of the exposure triangle such as the aperture and shutter speed. However, unlike the auto mode, the camera allows you to control and override the defaults of all the other settings, such as the flash and ISO.

Usually, the camera flash will automatically turn off when you switch to program mode. That means your camera flash won’t fire when using the Program mode unless you press the flash button. Instead, the camera will try to adjust the shutter speed and aperture to get the right exposure.

Use the Manual Mode

One of the most straightforward ways to have the flash of your D3200 disabled is to rotate the mode dial wheel to the M position. Typically, this will set your camera to manual mode, giving you full control of the exposure and focus settings.

That means you can brighten the photos when shooting interior photos in low light conditions by opening the aperture wider, using slower shutter speeds, or increasing the ISO rather than using the camera flash.

Usually, this is the best mode when shooting closeups of reflective subjects, as you can adjust the image brightness and depth of field and avoid motion blur without using the camera flash. Like the Program mode, the flash will turn off when you switch to the manual mode. 

Woman capturing a picture

Attach an External Flash

Usually, an external flash is a separate flashlight with more power and flexibility than the built-in flash. That means an external flash can illuminate the subject better, have a better recycle time and allow you to use faster shutter speeds than the built-in flash.

However, if you are unfamiliar with the D3200, you might wonder how to turn off the built-in flash so you can attach and use the external flash. Fortunately, the camera can detect the attached external flash and automatically disable the built-in one.

You should note that the camera will only detect the external flash if it’s turned on. That means if you attach an external flash and turn it off when using the camera in the normal auto mode, it will try to pop up the built-in flash.

Switch to the Shutter Priority Mode

The Shutter priority mode is semi-automatic, just like the Aperture priority mode. When using this mode, the camera allows you to set the shutter speed you want to use, then it automatically sets everything else.

Usually, the shutter speed controls the duration of the camera sensor’s exposure to light. That means a faster shutter speed will limit the amount of light reaching the sensor, while a slower shutter speed will allow more light to enter.

Keeping in mind that the D3200 built-in flash can only work with a maximum shutter speed of 1/200, you will need to disable it when using faster shutter speeds to prevent motion blur when shooting a moving subject. Like the program mode, the flash will automatically turn off when you switch to this mode.

Use the Aperture Priority Mode

Like the Shutter priority mode, the Aperture priority mode is semi-automatic, allowing you to set the aperture, and the camera automatically sets the rest of the settings. Once you switch to this mode and set the aperture, the D3200 will switch the flash off.

That means the camera will try to adjust other members of the exposure triangle, such as using slower shutter speeds to brighten the photos rather than automatically switching the flash on. However, it’s advisable to increase the ISO to brighten the photos instead of slowing the shutter speed if shooting a moving subject.

How to Shoot Bright Photos With the Flash Turned Off

Even if you turn off the flash of your Nikon D3200 to prevent flares or prolong the battery life, you will still need to improve the brightness of your photos if shooting in poor lighting. Depending on your lens, you can use the following tips to capture bright photos with the flash turned off.

An image a Nikon D3200
  • Use a wide aperture: Since the aperture controls the light reaching the camera sensor, you can improve the image brightness by opening the aperture wider
  • Use slower shutter speeds: If you want a deep depth of field and you don’t want to use a wide aperture, you can allow more light to reach the camera sensor by using slower shutter speeds
  • Shoot with a tripod setup: If you are shooting using slower shutter speeds, you can prevent motion blur issues by using a tripod to stabilize the camera
  • Enable the image stabilization system: If you are shooting handheld, you can try to reduce the camera tremors by enabling the image stabilization system if your lens has one

Frequently Asked Questions

How Far Can the Built-in Nikon D3200 Flash Illuminate?

The distance the built-in Nikon D3200 flash can illuminate a subject equals the GN/Aperture. Typically, this flash has a guide number (GN) of 43 feet in manual mode and 39 feet when in auto mode. For instance, you can use the built-in flash to illuminate a subject up to 12 feet away when using an f/3.5 aperture setting in manual mode.

How Can I Turn the Flash on in a Nikon D3200?

You can turn the camera flash on in a Nikon D3200 by pressing the flash button if you use the camera in Aperture priority, Shutter priority, manual, or Program mode. However, the flash will automatically activate when using the standard auto mode.

Final Thoughts

Knowing how to turn off the flash on Nikon D3200 will help you have better control over the subject illumination and avoid glare and reflections when shooting shiny surfaces. You can turn off the flash by switching to flash off in automatic mode or using manual and semi-automatic modes.