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    • I was surfing YouTube university the other day for something and somehow ended up on a photography channel. The channels owner was talking about something but not this.

      He just mentioned the 'f16 sunny rule' and it made me pause the video, and think when the last time I heard that phrase, I figured 37 years from one of the professors at college when I was studying film photography.

      If you're not familiar it goes something like this - it is a method of estimating correct daylight exposures without a light meter.


      On a sunny day and with ISO 100 film/ setting in the camera, one sets the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed (i.e. exposure time) to 1/100 or 1/125 seconds (on some cameras 1/125 second is the available setting nearest to 1/100 second).

      On a sunny day with ISO 200 film/ setting and aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/200 or 1/250.

      On a sunny day with ISO 400 film/ setting and aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/400 or 1/500.

      It works of course with modern cameras and if you shoot in Manual mode it is a way to check yourself and the camera if you're making quick adjustments and of course nowadays you can download a light meter to your phone with an app instead of carrying around one.

      ...and not only just full sunny day there are other rules you can use if the weather isn't a nice sunny day

      ApertureLighting conditionsShadow detail
      f/22Snow/sand Dark with sharp edges
      f/16Sunny Distinct
      f/11Slight overcast Soft around edges
      f/8Overcast Barely visible
      f/5.6 Heavy overcast No shadows
      f/4Open shade/sunset No shadows

      but what do I do in the dark?

      Use the Looney f11 rule, same principle but start with f11 and 100/100, so of course, 1/250 second at f/8 gives equivalent exposure to 1/125 second at f/11

      So remind me what else have I forgotten about from film photography that could carry over to modern-day cameras?

      **image from the Japan Camera Hunter

    • I always use Sunny 16 as a starting point for photographing the moon, which most camera light meters do a very bad job of metering due to the darkeness abound the sunlit moon. The moon is a sunlit object, so Sunny 16 is pretty close. Sometimes I add a stop of light to keep the moon nice and bright, kind of like + exposure comp in a snow field. On a modern camera on can eyeball their histogram and just make sure not to push too far to the right.

      The image below I shot in December of 2008 at 1/400th f10 ISO 400 which is pretty close to sunny 16 + one stop which would be 1/400 f11 ISO 400

      When I first started shooting film many many years ago, most cameras I could afford had no meter, so Sunny 16 really was your friend. Positive slide film only tolerated about 1/3 of stop for proper exposure or it would be way to dark or too light. And positive slide film was expensive - relatively.