Why don’t many modern cameras have built-in flash?

Integrated flash is still a thing in cheaper consumer cameras, that are mainly built to be used in full auto.

Integrated flash however has some drawbacks:

  • Relatively weak, so anything that is not a close upper body shot is probably out of reach.
  • As they are mounted very close to the lens, you not only get very flat lighting, you also risk effects like red eyes
  • Small flash size will only give you super harsh light (softness of light is created by having a relatively large light source)
  • Uses quite some energy from the shared main batteries
  • Cannot be used as bounce flash, as they are faced straight forward. They would not be powerful enough anyway.

Cheap consumer cams however, are on the verge of becoming obsolete due to cell phone cameras. The added computational power in these can do what the flash in cheap cameras never achieved: create usable images in low light situations due to better sensors and automatic image post processing.

So, yes, small internal flashes are an emergency option only. And the images will be worse than that of a current cell phone in many situations. Most modern mirrorless cams can take images in situations where a small flash would not help much, apart from completely destroying any atmosphere the shot would have.