WHAT IS THE SUNNY 16 RULE IN A PHOTO?
One of the most well-known rules regarding exposure adjustment in photography is Sunny 16 – the “solar rule 16”, or “f / 16 rule”, also known as the “Tamba rule”. It goes back to the early days of photography and it seems that at the moment this rule … is outdated. However, many novice photographers get acquainted with it when studying the exposure settings. So, what is the “solar rule 16” and does it matter for modern photography?
“Solar rule 16” is an easy way to determine a good exposure without using an exposure meter. It says: on a clear sunny day, use the f / 16 aperture and set the shutter speed to the inverse of your ISO (1 / ISO value).
For example, at ISO 100, use a shutter speed of 1/100 second. At ISO 200, use a shutter speed of 1/200 second. This is all you need to do.
Keep in mind that all the various exposure settings recommended by the Sunny 16 rule are not equally useful even on a sunny day, and the rule itself does not claim to be so. For example, in most cases you don’t want to shoot with settings such as f / 16, ISO 3200 and 1/3200 seconds.
“Solar rule 16” allows you to quickly select the exposure settings for a photo of the correct brightness. You need to select these options to determine which one is perfect for the scene you shoot directly this minute.
You can easily expand the “solar rule 16” by adopting a different aperture value. For example, if the f / 16, 1/100 second and ISO 100 settings provide a bright enough photo on a sunny day, the same will be true for the f / 11, 1/200 second and ISO 100 parameters in the same conditions. This is still considered the “solar 16 shutter speed”, even if you set f / 11. Those. – all settings values are shifted!
Although the Sunny 16 rule may serve as a general guideline, you may encounter a situation where, even on clear sunny days, it leads to underexposure or overexposure. Here the colors and the reflectivity of the subject themselves, the direction of the camera lens (towards or away from the sun) are of great importance. If your standards of shooting are too high, the rule of the sun 16 obviously does not work.
However, it was never supposed that this would be the exact way to find the optimal exposure. The rule is just a hint to help you choose the right parameters. Following the rule of Sunny 16, you will immediately find out the range of camera settings that will be approximately correct, and you have the opportunity to dwell on them or use an exposure meter for more precise settings.
f / 11, ISO 100, 1/800 s – this frame was 4 times brighter than the frame using “solar rule 16” simply because of the reflectivity of snow
Built-in camera exposure meter
Most photographers do not use “solar rule 16” for everyday work. Instead, they use a camera’s exposure meter to find the right exposure, adjusting the exposure compensation as necessary.
In most cases, the “solar rule 16” does not work better than the exposure meter. Initially, it was used to assess the exposure in the absence of an exposure meter or to check the readings of the exposure meter (after all, when photographing was taken on film, you could not just see the picture without showing it in the laboratory).
Today, almost every digital camera has a built-in exposure meter and you can immediately view the captured images to evaluate the exposure (and also refer to tools such as a histogram for better accuracy). Thus, “solar rule 16” is something like a relic.
However, this does not mean that this rule is useless. You can improve your photography skills by forming a deep, intuitive understanding of exposure. In this case, “solar rule 16” will help you find out the range of reasonable settings for the frame before you decide to press the shutter.
“Solar Rule 16” is a good starting point for the formation of your own “mental light meter”. It is also a useful way to tell novice photographers about the concept of exposure – how camera settings relate to each other and the scene being photographed.