The Willems 400-40-4 (“444”) Rule for Flash

So.. for indoors flash in a ‘normal’ environment (i.e. a room with not too much, not too little light), here is my new, “restated-as-an-easier-mnemonic” rule of thumb:

The 400-40-4 rule (a.k.a. the “4-4-4-rule”).

As a simple starting point, do the following:

  • Flash aimed 45 degrees up, behind you
  • 400 ISO
  • 1/40th second
  • f/4

That will give you an ambient light exposure of around -2 stops. Which looks like this:

Of course if your background is now too dark, you can raise ISO, lower f-number, or slow down shutter. If on the other hand the background is too bright, lower the ISO, select a faster shutter speed, or increase the f-number.

Often, simple rules of thumb are the secret to success. And simplicity is key – “4-4-4” sounds simple enough to remember, no?

5 thoughts on “The Willems 400-40-4 (“444”) Rule for Flash

  1. Hi Michael,

    What a great mnemonic… I love it! A great starting point and then fine-tune settings accordingly. Do you recommend switching flash to manual with this technique (full/half/quarter etc)?


  2. Pingback: Festive Day Tips | SPEEDLIGHTER.CA

  3. Yes that rule I remember easily…I Am using that tip more often indoors.
    and the diffusion of light angle of bounced light tip as well…
    It works For Me..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *