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Re: Flash pops when firing
The flash is powered by an internal capacitor. This capacitor is charged at about 315-350 volts from an inverter circuitry. Yes, your camera does produce 350Volts inside of it :)
When the flash is fired these 350V will discharge, resulting a small lightning in what you call the "flash". A mirror there will direct the resulting light to the subject in front of the camera. If the new firmware you installed is telling to that invertor something like "give more power" (of course in electrical terms :) ) it will raise this tension from about 350V to more. Maybe because the firmware has a small error inside it, was written with some bugs, or your camera had a small bug that wasn't noticeable with your old firmware. If the flash is too strong the resulting lightning will make this "pop" sound. I sugest to revert to the old flash if possible as you may damage in this way eather the flash itself or components near it or the capacitor who isn't designed to suport tensions above aprox 350V and may get damaged or even explode.
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Still this is strange. Most of the time when I use the auto setting, I turn the main dial not on the green camera, but on the one between SCENE and the green logo. That prevent the flash to pop up. But still if you want to use the flash it should be possible.
Be aware that some settings the flash can't be used, f.i. when the shutter speed is to high. I would suggest to put al user settings back to standard and try to use the flash again. If it stalls again, try to read the display, if it gives anything of a warning or message.
I do not want to speak down to you. If you pop up the flash and it does not fire it may be the mode. If the camera is in an auto mode and it feels there is NOT enough light to take the photo it will automatically pop up the flash and take the photo using flash. If it is in auto and it pops up the flash and it does not use it you may have a problem.
In most cases the best mode to use is P. In P mode (Programmed Auto) the flash NEVER automatically pops up (I find that very annoying). It will ONLY fire after you pop it up and take a photo. So with the camera in P. Take some photos with the flash down. Then try to take some photos with the flash up. It may also help to have fully charged batteries. Flash circuit uses lots of power for a short time to charge a capacitor. If the battery is too weak to charge the capacitor it will NOT fire the flash. It may have a RED LED or an INDICATOR in the View Finder that tells you the FLASH is READY.
If it clicks when the flash is already open, it seems there would be a problem with the flash open sensor. The camera thinks the flash is closed, so it tries to open it again and it refuses to fire, because firing in the closed position would blow the bulb.
Here's a <a href='http://photo.net/bboard/uploaded-file?bboard_upload_id=42254384'>photo of the sensor in a D70</a>. The D40 flash is a bit different, but if you open it (just unscrew the two little screws in front) you'll recognize the sensor clips. Open and close the flash and see if the make contact when open.
(And DON'T fire the flash when open, or at the very least don't touch anything in there when firing or you'll get zapped.
Not really a solution, and about 3 years late :) my EOS400D also developed the same problem (however it was also coincidence that I had just updated to Firmware 1.1.1 (from 1.0.4), but basically the flash would pop up, but wouldn't fire (so not the standard problem with the microswitches), I found with a bit of forum searching that if you hold the flash down to almost clicking it in and then shoot it does actually fire. I am going to see how much it costs to get this fixed and will post what the actual fault is if I can understand the repairman.