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Sunny 16 Rule Film Photography

Sunny 16 Guide

The sunny 16 rule is a guideline that photographers can use to estimate the correct exposure for an image when shooting in daylight. It's called the "sunny 16" rule because it suggests that on a sunny day, the correct exposure for an image is f/16 at a shutter speed of 1/ISO. So, if you're shooting with a film or digital camera that has an ISO of 100, the correct exposure for a sunny day would be f/16 at 1/100th of a second.


The sunny 16 rule is based on the assumption that on a sunny day, the correct exposure for an image is f/16 at a shutter speed of 1/ISO. This is because the sun is a very bright light source, and at f/16, the aperture is narrow enough to allow just the right amount of light to enter the camera to properly expose the image. The shutter speed is set to 1/ISO to balance out the amount of light entering the camera, ensuring that the image is properly exposed.

Sunny 16 Guide


One of the key benefits of the sunny 16 rule is that it's easy to remember and can be applied quickly, even in the heat of the moment. All you need to do is set your aperture to f/16 and your shutter speed to 1/ISO, and you'll have a good starting point for properly exposing your image.


While the sunny 16 rule is a helpful guideline, it's important to keep in mind that it's not a one-size-fits-all solution. There are many factors that can affect the correct exposure for an image, including the subject matter, the lighting conditions, and the color of the light.

Santa Monica Oceanview Canon AE-1 Program Film Camera

For example, if you're shooting a subject that is very bright, like a snow-covered landscape, you may need to adjust your exposure settings to compensate for the additional light. In this case, you might want to open up your aperture or use a faster shutter speed to allow less light into the camera. On the other hand, if you're shooting a subject that is very dark, like a shadowy forest, you may need to adjust your exposure settings to allow more light into the camera.

Maui Turtle Beach Film Camera Sunny 16 Rule

Another thing to consider when using the sunny 16 rule is the color of the light. Different colors of light can have different effects on the exposure of an image, and it's important to take this into account when setting your exposure settings. For example, if you're shooting under a blue sky, you may need to adjust your exposure settings to allow for the cool tones of the sky, while if you're shooting under a warm sunset, you may need to adjust your exposure settings to allow for the warm tones of the sunset.

Maui, Hawaii Mandarin Orange Tree Film

Photo by Drake Woodson

While the sunny 16 rule is a useful tool for photographers, it's important to remember that it's just a starting point. The best way to truly understand the correct exposure for an image is to experiment with different settings and see how they affect the image. By doing this, you'll be able to get a better sense of how your camera responds to different lighting conditions, and you'll be able to fine-tune your exposure settings to get the perfect shot.

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