Toronto. I remember as a child of seven or eight listening to radio dramas. One was called “The Shadow” and his alter ego, “Lamont Cranston”. Like Cranston, the tell of a flash photograph with the flash gun mounted on a simple (cheap) camera is dark shadows (and burnt-out highlights).
Before the days of “Truth in Advertising“, marketeers latched on to a differentiating factor for their product and promoted it loudly. In the mid last century, amateur photography had two BIG events – indoor photos with flash bulbs, and colour prints. This advertisement example is from page 43 of the December 17th, 1956 edition of LIFE for GE PowerMite M2 flash bulbs.
The colour print is small so details are not well illustrated and all the rest of the ad uses black and white photos and text. The implication is that an amateur just needs to use GE PowerMite bulbs to get perfect colour prints, BUT the prints shown have neither burnt-out highlights nor deep shadows since good studio lighting and fast quality lenses were used.
Amateurs choosing inexpensive cameras and on-camera flash would still get crummy photos regardless of which flash bulbs they used. The shadow knows….