Sunny 16 rule ... not optimal at 16?

Started Jul 1, 2013 | Discussions thread
Dennis
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The illusion of control
In reply to adymitruk, Jul 2, 2013

adymitruk wrote:

Any help is appreciated. I love having total control via manual mode and would love it if I could get he perfect exposure for a series of shots.

What do you view as "control" ?

Control is being able to get the exposure (focus, etc.) that you want in the way that you want it.

When it comes to exposure, you have a couple of things to control.  First, you have the aperture and shutter speed settings, which affect how much light hits the sensor.  Then you have the ISO setting which affects how bright the image is (in conjunction with the aperture and shutter speed and scene brightness).

So you want to be able to control those things.

Then you have the actual exposure value determined by the combination of those settings.  Are you going by a "rule of thumb" like Sunny f16 ?  Are you setting exposure for studio lights ?  Experimenting ?  Using an external meter ?  Or the camera's built in meter ?

If using the camera's built in meter, you want to be able to control the meter: the mode (matrix, spot, center-weighted), locking (zoom in, point it there, lock it, recompose), and a compensation factor.

Do you think an external meter gives you more control than the cameras meter ?  Do you think sunny f16 gives you more control than the spot meter with exposure compensation ?

Suppose you're using the built in meter.  The three exposure settings have to "combine" to get you to the metered exposure value.  So at 1/100s and ISO 100, you need to set f/16 on a sunny day.  What if it's a rainy day and you decide to use the meter.  You set the ISO, you set the aperture, and now you have to dial the shutter speed until the meter tells you you're right.  You could save yourself the trouble by using S mode and letting the camera set the shutter speed.  You're going to get the same result.  Do you feel you've given up control by using the camera to make a calculation and set something faster than you would have done it, even though you would have done what the camera told you to ?

My point is this: Don't be lulled into the myth that M mode gives you more control.  M mode is an absolute necessity at times.  But if you don't have a good reason for ignoring the built in meter, then it can be a powerful tool, and you can have all the control you need using the simplest of automation (letting the camera made a dumb calculation instead of playing the match needle game).

- Dennis

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