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Re: no flash in auto mode
Try a mode other than auto, and turn off the flash. Then try taking a picture. Did it work? If so, then your flash is either burned out, or the flash safety circuit thinks that the camera is open. If the flash is burned out, then professional repair is required, as a flash change-out is not trivial (Call 1-800-OK-CANON). However you mention the flash works sometimes, so a totally burned out flash tube is unlikely.
It's more likely to be only a break or bad connection in the safety circuit. Many Canon cameras use some of the screws in the camera case to serve as a means of detecting if the case is open (and thus disables the flash to prevent shock). Examine all the screws around the perimeter of your case. Are they all there and tight? If not, tighten loose screws and try moving and replacing any missing screws with one of the others that are still there.
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See this blog article. If you don't notice any gaps, and tightening all the loose screws doesn't help, then the next likely problem is the flash unit itself is burned out. If so, this would require professional repair to correct.
First of all, the flash can not be turned off in "Auto" mode. You can turn it off in any mode other than Auto. Would recommend Program "P" mode, which is very similar to Auto, but allows you to modify certain minor items such as flash and white balance.
Rotate your mode dial to "P", then press the button on the back with the "lightning bolt" icon. Press until the lightning bolt with a slash shows up on your LCD screen. The flash is now turned off in Program mode. Try taking a picture.
Remember, if in low light conditions you'll need to keep the camera extra steady without flash to get a clear picture. Recommend placing the camera on a table or chair (or even better, use a tripod), then using its autotimer to snap the picture.
Do you mean you are expecting it to show the photo that you just took for a few seconds before it goes back to preview mode? There's a menu setting which I think is called "Picture Review" and you can set it for something like 0, 2 seconds, 5 seconds, something like that.
In all of modes you can use "up" key to toggle between "always on", "auto" and "off" mode for flash. (in some mode there is only auto and off.)
also the flash light icon on top right of screen shows th status of flash.
I hope this helps...