The electronic flash is used to provide light that assists with taking a picuture in dim light or poor lighting conditions. However there have been numerous cases where the electronic flash is used in a highly creative way to produce images with special effects.
Some cameras are produced with built-in flash units while others use flash units that are mounted on the camera. Shoe mount flashes are devices that are attached to the "hot shoe" of the camera. Many modern cameras come with these areas where a separate flash can be attached and be used in sync mode to produce very dramatic and pleasing images.
Photostuffonline.com carries a very good variety of shoe mount flash units. The very recent Canon 600EX-RT Speedlight flash unit is available. You will also find the Nikon SB700 along with a host of other name brands including Bower, Metz, Yongnuo and others.
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