Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?

Started Jul 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
D Cox
Senior MemberPosts: 8,721
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Re: Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?
In reply to SQLGuy, Jul 2, 2013

SQLGuy wrote:

The last three posts or so all ignore the fact that I mentioned earlier: the camera's meter reads reflected light.

The camera does not know (although it sometimes guesses correctly in iAuto) whether your subject is a bank of snow, or a small dark object on a bank of snow, or a black car, etc. It assumes your subject is 18% gray. The result, if you just follow what the camera's meter tell you, will be a gray bank of snow, or a gray black car. That's one of the reasons you have exposure compensation settings: you know whether your subject is darker or brighter than 18% gray, and have to compensate accordingly.

And a little experience will tell you when to use compensation. And if you shoot RAW, exposures which are a bit off can be easily corrected - which was not the case with positive film (slides).

The Sunny 16 rule does account for incident light. It may not be the fastest, most accurate, or most convenient way to set exposure, but for subjects that are very different than 18% gray, it will often be quite a bit more accurate than the default exposure suggested by the camera. Knowing that rule, and why it's useful will make you a better photographer.

The histogram and clipping indicators are also useful, but you need to use them to ensure you're not losing much at the low or high end, not to guess the correct exposure by centering the graph (unless you want to correct the exposure in post to move the blacks back to black or the whites back to white).

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