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Camera Summer: What is 'Sunny 16'?

As an analogue photographer, you have probably already heard someone speak about the "sunny 16" rule when it comes to determining the correct shutter speed and aperture combination. But what's this about? Read on and I will tell you.

Well, where did you have your head again? Now you’re standing there, wanting to take beautiful photos with your awesome analogue camera, but you left the light meter on the table at home. Something like that certainly happened to many of us, but this is not a reason to abandon shooting. To the rescue in this time of need is the “sunny 16” rule.

Photo by dopa

This rule says that when shooting under direct sunlight, the correct exposure time corresponds to the inverse of the film speed, with the aperture set to f/16. In other words, in the blazing sun, a 100 ISO film is exposed best at 1/100, and a 400 ISO film at 1/400, and so on.

Photo by dopa

But when the sun doesn’t shine so wonderfully during the rest of the year, you can to determine the correct exposure with the “sunny 16” rule. Just double the time if there are some clouds in the sky, or halve the aperture; with completely gray skies, just work with a factor of 4.

Photo by dopa

With this knowledge in mind, you can avoid the first mistake that could otherwise lead to overexposure. But the “sunny 16” rule is only a rough guide. Other things must also be considered, e.g. changing the aperture if you go under the shade. But surely, the “sunny 16” is better than a light meter left at home.

written by dopa and translated by dopa

5 comments

  1. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Here's the long article I wrote, with a copy of an exposure list from a photo class from about 50 years ago, now. It's too long to be really useful unless you carry a copy, but enjoy!!

    4 months ago · report as spam
  2. herbert-4

    herbert-4

    Sorry, forgot link... http://www.lomograph(…)ever-boring

    4 months ago · report as spam
  3. dopa

    dopa

    Thank you for sharing this, @herbert-4

    4 months ago · report as spam
  4. alienmeatsack

    alienmeatsack

    @dopa - Nice simple and easy explanation for the folks who were afraid to ask or didn't know! I've tried to explain it to people before and they just look at me and ask why the meter in their camera isn't good enough. lol.

    4 months ago · report as spam
  5. dopa

    dopa

    thank you @alienmeatsack! actually the simples concepts are often those wich are the hardest to explain...

    3 months ago · report as spam

Read this article in another language

The original version of this article is written in: Deutsch. It is also available in: Italiano, Русский & 日本語.