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Thread: Sunny 16 Rule?

  1. #1

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    Sunny 16 Rule?

    OK so i guess if i understand this right on a really sunny day using ISO 100 your fstop should be as close to 16 as to make your shutter speed as close too 100 , the ISO speed , as possible? and if your shooting 200 ISO , a shutter speed of 200 is preferred etc etc etc?

    SO i have questions


    1. if this rule is so good...why doesnt my camera automatically try to get as close to f16 on auto or on Program on a sunny bright day?

    2. i guess also as a guide your shutter speed should be equal to or greater than your focal point or zoom point....

    Soooo if i am shooting at 200mm and my iso is 100 and obviously the shutter speed is gonna be too slow....SO is the sunny 16 rule even relevant in digital photgraphy still? Am I mis understanding it?

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Sunny 16 is a rule of thumb when cameras didn't have light meters.

    its a starting point for exposure. From there you can calculate the shutter speed you need.

    remember sunny 16 for ISO 100 is 1/125

    f/16 1/125 (this is when camera dial only had 1/125 sec)

    f/11 1/250 you open A up by 1 stop so drop shutter speed by 1 stop to keep the exposure constant

    f/8 1/500 again, open A by 2 stops, drop shutter speed by 2 stops
    the rest is as follows

    f/5.6 1/1000
    f/4 1/2000
    f/2.8 1/4000
    f/2 1/8000

    to ans Q1, the meter does way better job calculating exposure.
    for Q2, use sunny 16 as the starting point to work out your shutter speed.

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    ah cool...so i guess its not so relavant anymore,,,cool thanks for the answer so quickly..

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Welcome to the forum Kevin

    ....and for DSLR cameras unless on a tripod, it is not a good idea to go slower than 1/200 where for most people camera shake starts creating problems

    ....and in the UK (probably applies elsewhere where haze builds up) non-coastal areas you are really lucky to get many days when ISO 100 is worth a try


    ....and how about forgetting rules and start by working out what you really want to photograph and why, study what the guys ahead of you on the trail are doing and why, then finally work out your own style

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    I think that there's a few misconceptions creeping in here

    First up, I think it's helpful to understand what the full sunny 16 rule is ...

    It applies on clear, sunny days - 2 hours after sunrise until 2 hours before sunset; "at a shutterspeed equal to the fraction made by 1 over film speed (or ISO), an aperture of F16 will give you a correct exposure for a front-lit middle tone subject."

    So the sunny 16 rule for 100 ISO is 1/100th (or whatever is closest if you can't get it exact). It's just as relevant today because the same sensitivities apply, and the sun hasn't changed intensity in the past few millions of years (not that I've noticed anyway - but you DO have to remember the bit about front-lit and mid-tone.

    Camera metering today is pretty smart - but - it's still based on reflected light, and it's still easy to fool it (without even trying) - point it at a black cat on a black rug on a bright day, or a snowfield on a dark day, and it can't tell the difference (and will expose both incorrectly).

    So is it still useful / applicable today? Yes - very much so. Would you still use it today? Yes and No; personally I use an incident light meter, but it's still the perfect starting point for manual exposure.

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Oops, and to answer your questions ...

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinbythebeach View Post
    1. if this rule is so good...why doesnt my camera automatically try to get as close to f16 on auto or on Program on a sunny bright day?
    If your pointing at a front-lit mid-tone object, it should. (mine does)

    2. i guess also as a guide your shutter speed should be equal to or greater than your focal point or zoom point....
    This is a rule-of-thumb for MINIMISING camera shake (not ELIMINATING it) - it's been suggested that you need to go to 5 times the shutter speed to essentially eliminate camera shake - and 1.5x to 1.6x higher again if shooting with a crop-factor camera.

    Soooo if i am shooting at 200mm and my iso is 100 and obviously the shutter speed is gonna be too slow
    Not necessarily - it's going to depend on how bright the day is, and what aperture your shooting at. If it's F2.8 on a "Sunny 16" type of day then you'll be in the region of /3200th. Focal length doesn't come into it in terms of exposure.

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Kevin, Ray, Colin, Chris,

    Another conception I have about this rule is that this was primarily relevant to the the colour print films. These had a significant latitude in exposure, i.e. I suspect the negative stock would produce an image with details for highlights and lowlights for at least + 1 or 2 stops, which even after bulk processing and (importantly) auto-exposed printing onto paper in a production line, still produced pictures that most casual Kodak 126, 110 and some 135 users were happy with.

    We all accept that slide (aka transparency) film stock was a different kettle of fish and very unforgiving of incorrect exposure.

    Of course, I could be wrong ....

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Thanks for all the responses guys.....


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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    The metering rule is still relevant. But more importantly, it slows you down so you can think about what you are doing (light, composition, exposure, DOF, etc etc) Perhaps that's the most important reason to keep that rule in your mind.


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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raycer View Post
    The metering rule is still relevant. But more importantly, it slows you down so you can think about what you are doing (light, composition, exposure, DOF, etc etc) Perhaps that's the most important reason to keep that rule in your mind.

    He's got it .
    Make the images that you want - if that means overriding the automatic light meter: then do so.
    If it doesn't - then don't.

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by milleniummuppet View Post
    He's got it .
    Make the images that you want - if that means overriding the automatic light meter: then do so.
    If it doesn't - then don't.
    Photographers thinking they know more than the camera? Good heavens ... they'll be getting creative next, and then the cameras will lose all control!

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    re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Photographers thinking they know more than the camera? Good heavens ... they'll be getting creative next, and then the cameras will lose all control!
    Ha, Yea, or maybe the cameras will 'literally' lose all control and break out in a light-consuming-rampage .

    hmmmmm.......

    or maybe not .

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    i think my camera is cheating on me...

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by kevinbythebeach View Post
    i think my camera is cheating on me...
    I know that mine's often unfaithful to me, but I guess I can't complain since I'm having a long affair with Photoshop!

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    I know that mine's often unfaithful to me, but I guess I can't complain since I'm having a long affair with Photoshop!
    So you're sticking with the old bird with facelifts eh Colin? I like the younger Lightroom chick myself, though I can't deny the value of of a few of the tricks your choice has, trouble is she's expensive.

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bill44 View Post
    So you're sticking with the old bird with facelifts eh Colin? I like the younger Lightroom chick myself, though I can't deny the value of of a few of the tricks your choice has, trouble is she's expensive.
    Nah - I like to think of each new version as a "new generation"

    On a more serious note, LR just doesn't suit my style ... I shoot a bunch and then hand-pick the best for in-depth processing, so PS works well for me (with bridge). LR would be great for those who need to process bulk images (eg wedding photography).

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    Nah - I like to think of each new version as a "new generation"

    On a more serious note, LR just doesn't suit my style ... I shoot a bunch and then hand-pick the best for in-depth processing, so PS works well for me (with bridge). LR would be great for those who need to process bulk images (eg wedding photography).
    I second that.

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    Re: Sunny 16 Rule?

    Hee hee, you guys are too funny!
    what if I tell you I use Capture NX and Photoshop...
    sometimes on the same pic!!

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