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04-19-2019, 12:01 PM   #1
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Sunny 16 rule and my Pentax K1000.....

.....seem to not be on the same page. So according to the Sunny 16 rule, one is suppose to get correct exposure when shutter speed is close to the ISO/ASA film youíre using and using f16. All this is so when pointing the cameraís lens at the cloudless sky, not in direct sunlight. So for my situation, I have ISO 400 film and set my shutter speed to 1/500 and my aperture at f16, but my built in light meter shows what Iím seeing through the lens is under exposed. The needle sits below the first bar on the light meter.
Can someone help me figure out why this could be? Is there something wrong with my light meter? Or should I disregard my light meter and assume exposure is right on? Or anything else.........

Some FYI
I just purchased this lightly used. It was sitting in a camera bag in a closet for years, according to the one I purchased it from.
It has a new Energizer 357 battery (silver oxide)
I havenít gotten it serviced.

Thank you all in advanced for any help/advice.

Paul

04-19-2019, 12:28 PM - 6 Likes   #2
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The Sunny 16 rule (as I understand it) is you set the shutter speed to your film speed (or close to) and then choose aperture based on conditions.

f/16 - full sunlight at the beach or in snow

f/11 - most full sunlight conditions

f/8 - hazy sunlight conditions

f/5.6 - overcast conditions

f/4 - open shade on sunny day

Those are the basic starting points I use, and then adjust based on various conditions and experience.

If you meter a clear blue sky using reflective metering and with the meter pointed opposite the sun, you should get a reading closer to f/11 than f/16.

The Sunny 16 rule is a rough guideline, and will change depending on time of year, and proximity to the equator.
04-19-2019, 12:31 PM - 1 Like   #3
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I was typing out a reply, but now I've seen that Colton (Swift1) has said it all more clearly than I ever could.
04-19-2019, 12:32 PM - 1 Like   #4
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Without seeing what you're trying to shoot, it's hard to say what might be going on. But basically...you're right. In full sunlight, if you set your lens to f16 and set your shutter speed to whatever the ASA of your film happens to be, that should be the right exposure for a subject that's illuminated by full sunlight. I'm going to make a guess that there's nothing wrong with your camera since you tested it by pointing it at a section of clear sky and it gave you the proper reading. So the variation probably has to do with a couple of things. First, 1/500 is slightly faster than the 1/400 you'd need to set for the ASA of your film, so you're already underexposing slightly. But I suspect the bigger issue is with your subject matter. If it's something that's light colored, it would cause your light meter to read something other than the Sunny 16 rule. That's because all light meters are designed to read a medium gray...or "battleship gray", as they used to call it. So if you're shooting a bunch of white sheets on a clothesline...or maybe a snow scene...your meter is going to assume that what it is seeing is gray and will set an exposure for that. It will underexpose your scene. Likewise, if you're shooting something really dark, the light meter again assumes what it's seeing is gray, so it'll overexpose that dark subject in an attempt to make it gray. Does that help at all?

04-19-2019, 12:35 PM - 1 Like   #5
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Interesting how we remember these rules from our film days yet so many variables are involved for the rule to be truly accurate.
I was taught this rule also and yet had an instructor that showed us for our geographic location, latitude and normal weather/haze conditions, f8 & 1/125 with asa100 would almost always provide a descent exposure without metering.
Around a 2 stop difference.
I would say use the rule as a starting point and then adjust accordingly. If you know your meter is registering about 1 stop difference or so, then you can set your own parameters for the camera and ambient light conditions.
04-19-2019, 12:39 PM - 1 Like   #6
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Paul, I assume you have the camera set to 400 iso? All I can think of is this camera is old. It could be an issue with the meter, the contacts on the controls, battery contacts. They could have corrosion. Also if there were any clouds in the sky, the sunny16 rule says to go to 11 for that.
I never checked any of my cameras, I should try it and see if it works. ISO values in digital cameras are all non-standard, so if we were talking about a digital camera I'd think that would play a part.

Did you go ahead and take a shot and look at it? If so, did it look underexposed?

I have a SLR like it, the KR-10 Ricoh, I would look at the battery if mine were doing this, but you said yours is new. Hmmm. No idea.
Maybe test your battery with a voltmeter if you can, might be a bad new one?

[edit]

Well, now that I read the post above, I think we have the answer. I never knew latitude was a factor. Makes sense!

Last edited by jack002; 04-19-2019 at 12:44 PM. Reason: Posted too soon. LOL
04-19-2019, 12:39 PM - 2 Likes   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by pcrichmond Quote
I was taught this rule also and yet had an instructor that showed us for our geographic location, latitude and normal weather/haze conditions, f8 & 1/125 with asa100 would almost always provide a descent exposure without metering.
Yes, it definitely varies by location. Around here I always use f/11 at 1/125 at ISO 100. In fact I probably take 75% of my photos at exactly that exposure.
04-19-2019, 01:06 PM - 1 Like   #8
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QuoteOriginally posted by Dartmoor Dave Quote
Yes, it definitely varies by location. Around here I always use f/11 at 1/125 at ISO 100. In fact I probably take 75% of my photos at exactly that exposure.
Yea, I sort of miss doing street photography where we would just set the camera on our chosen settings and then randomly point and shoot from the hip or behind the back. Knowing that presetting the exposure and focal distance would give good results made it both fun and challenging. Might have to get back into the technic again with digital.

04-19-2019, 01:07 PM   #9
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Have you tried bracketing exposures of the same scene, as a test - one at 'Sunny Sixteen', one at meter advisory, see which gives the better results to your eyes ?
04-19-2019, 01:33 PM - 1 Like   #10
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What is your latitude and region?

Sunny 16 makes certain assumptions about sun angle and time of day (think summer with sun at local (solar) noon at other than high latitudes). Air moisture and atmospheric haze also play a role. For example, in my part of the world (near Portland, Oregon, USA), our light is closer to "Sunny 11" for all but mid-Summer and "Sunny 8" for late fall and early Spring.

Also, the rule is for a landscape in direct sun. See the example and table in the Wikipedia article on the "Sunny 16 rule":

Sunny 16 rule - Wikipedia

The reading from your camera's meter should give a similar value in the same light if pointed at healthy green lawn grass filling the entire viewfinder.

BTW...What you are seeing is not too far off from what is expected, if at all. The distance across the open area of your meter indicator is only about 1/2 stop and open sky is about 1 stop dimmer than a full-sun landscape.*


Steve

Last edited by stevebrot; 04-19-2019 at 01:41 PM.
04-19-2019, 03:52 PM   #11
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A cloudless stretch of blue sky with the sun above 45degrees and not near the area measured, should match/be very close to the sunny 16 rule. Indeed this is the usual way to calibrate a (reflected light) light meter. The reason it works is because the blue sky is a midtone.

Actually camera meters may be off, and an older lens w/ lots of elements would have a larger light loss (reflected light on the elements), to name two differences. It is quite common for minor differences--so take another reading of the blue sky and see what the exposure is that it give, and if only 1/2 stop difference it is minimal unless using slide film. In any event I would bias the ASA value you input so it gives sunny 16 rule when properly metering the blue sky, and use it and look at the negatives, and w/ some experience (if need be but unlikely) input a new adjusted ASA (ISO) value to better correct things.

But the bottom line is the metering of the blue sky is the best (and really only) practical method we have to check the light meter. As comparing to another light meter assumes the other one is correct--which is not a known.
04-19-2019, 04:20 PM   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by Swift1 Quote
The Sunny 16 rule (as I understand it) is you set the shutter speed to your film speed (or close to) and then choose aperture based on conditions.

f/16 - full sunlight at the beach or in snow

f/11 - most full sunlight conditions

f/8 - hazy sunlight conditions

f/5.6 - overcast conditions

f/4 - open shade on sunny day

Those are the basic starting points I use, and then adjust based on various conditions and experience.

If you meter a clear blue sky using reflective metering and with the meter pointed opposite the sun, you should get a reading closer to f/11 than f/16.

The Sunny 16 rule is a rough guideline, and will change depending on time of year, and proximity to the equator.

What do you mean by reflective metering? Sorry if Iím asking a simple question. Iím really new to film and photography in general.

---------- Post added 04-19-19 at 04:27 PM ----------

QuoteOriginally posted by TaoMaas Quote
Without seeing what you're trying to shoot, it's hard to say what might be going on. But basically...you're right. In full sunlight, if you set your lens to f16 and set your shutter speed to whatever the ASA of your film happens to be, that should be the right exposure for a subject that's illuminated by full sunlight. I'm going to make a guess that there's nothing wrong with your camera since you tested it by pointing it at a section of clear sky and it gave you the proper reading. So the variation probably has to do with a couple of things. First, 1/500 is slightly faster than the 1/400 you'd need to set for the ASA of your film, so you're already underexposing slightly. But I suspect the bigger issue is with your subject matter. If it's something that's light colored, it would cause your light meter to read something other than the Sunny 16 rule. That's because all light meters are designed to read a medium gray...or "battleship gray", as they used to call it. So if you're shooting a bunch of white sheets on a clothesline...or maybe a snow scene...your meter is going to assume that what it is seeing is gray and will set an exposure for that. It will underexpose your scene. Likewise, if you're shooting something really dark, the light meter again assumes what it's seeing is gray, so it'll overexpose that dark subject in an attempt to make it gray. Does that help at all?
So basically, if Iím shooting something with a lot of whites, I want to over expose to get the whites to pop out more because the light meter would read it to be more underexposed?
And on the other hand, the light meter will show overexpose if dark images are involved in the scene?
So the light meter will give me a reading based off of a reading of medium gray rather than giving me a meter reading for the actual subject Iím shooting?

---------- Post added 04-19-19 at 04:37 PM ----------

@jack002

Yes, my camera is set for the 400 ISO film Iím currently using. Thereís no apparent corrosion in the battery compartment either. Iíve taken shots basing my exposure on what the meter tells me and it seemed to be well exposed after I got the film processed. I suppose Iím wondering about the accuracy of my meter because Iíve been reading a lot on the Sunny 16 rule and how to use it to based proper exposure without the use of a meter. And Iíd like to get good enough with my skills to expose images properly with out having to rely on some built-in mechanism on my camera.
04-19-2019, 04:43 PM   #13
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QuoteOriginally posted by PjayPages Quote
So basically, if Iím shooting something with a lot of whites, I want to over expose to get the whites to pop out more because the light meter would read it to be more underexposed?
And on the other hand, the light meter will show overexpose if dark images are involved in the scene?
So the light meter will give me a reading based off of a reading of medium gray rather than giving me a meter reading for the actual subject Iím shooting?
Yes! The meter doesn't know what it's looking at so it's set to make an assumption that you're showing it something that is medium gray. So the trick is to take your meter reading off something that's in the same light as your main subject, but which is tonally close to a medium gray. As Stevebrot said, you could use a healthy green lawn as a substitute. Some folks used to meter off the palm of their hands...because most palms are fairly close in tone regardless of what color the back of your hand is...then open up a half or full stop (can't remember which) to compensate for your palm being lighter than medium gray.

Edited to add: If you're shooting print film and not processing it yourself, that's another factor in all of this. You might be nailing your exposure, but it's your lab that's not printing things right. However, it's normally the other way around. People who have shot print film for a long time...but not done their own printing...are sometimes very surprised when they try to shoot slide film and their exposures come out all screwed up. The reality was that they had been missing their exposure all along, but the lab kept fixing the prints so the photographer never knew they were exposing things wrong.
04-19-2019, 06:11 PM   #14
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Yeah, Colton's got it. I live in western Oregon, so always think of it as the Sunny f/11 rule. Or, some days, more like f/5.6. The nice thing about digital is you can check right away and retake the photo if need be.
04-19-2019, 06:28 PM - 1 Like   #15
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QuoteOriginally posted by PjayPages Quote
What do you mean by reflective metering? Sorry if Iím asking a simple question. Iím really new to film and photography in general.
Reflective metering refers to metering the light coming off of a subject as opposed to metering the light falling on your subject.
Pretty much all in camera through the lens metering systems are designed for measuring the light coming off of (reflected) a subject. Because different material and different colors will reflect different amounts of light, you need to understand how the meter works and how you are metering the subject.
If you imagine matte black car is parked next to a shiny white car, and both are parked in the same lighting conditions , the white car will reflect a lot more light than the matte black car. If you point your camera at only the white car, your meter will give a reading that will cause underexposure. If you point your camera at only the matte black car, your meter will give a reading that will cause overexposure. Your camera's meter is calibrated to give an accurate reading of light reflected off a grey (somewhere between black and white) surface.
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