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Understanding the "Sunny 16" saying


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#1 Eric F Adams

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 08:40 AM

I'm trying to fully understand this concept. Let me know if I'm on the right track. Shooting on an SR2 Super 16mm in daylight with the sun (no filter).  I use my trusty light meter and it indicates i should be on stop 20, maybe stop 22, etc.. but I just place my stop to 16 cause not really wanting to risk under exposing.  Placing it at 16 is clearing letting in more light even though my meter indicated me to be at 22.  Overexposing it several stops is fine...therefore, in the sun, with no shade, some film users just go straight to "Sunny 16" and roll with it, intentionally overexposing it.  And the end product still looks great. Am I on the right track here?  

My next few questions will be using the Sunny 16 with different film stock.  But I want to clarify the above first. Thanks so much for y'alls assistance. 


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#2 Adrian Sierkowski

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 08:59 AM

Sunny 16 is just an approximation for when you DONT have a meter. What it basically says is  that in "sunlight" (I believe it's noon-sun, but I may be wrong) if your shutter speed is the reciprocal of your film speed (ISO/ASA) exposure should be approximately F16.In the case of 50D stock, at 24fps and a 180 degree shutter (or 1/48th a second) sun should be about F16. If you used 100ISO film and a 1/100th shutter speed, then that would be F16. If you were on 500iso you'd need a 1/500th a second shutter to form a roughly properly exposed shot at F16.

Rarely would we ever "just" do an F16 in sunlight (assuming we're on 50D). It's one of those just in case suddenly your meter dies or becomes wildly our of calibration or you have lost the proper ISO slide that you can use F16 as an approximation and then mathematically work out what your F stop should be given whatever filters (generally ND) that you're using.

And/Or also useful when you're thinking about how big of an HMI or other such light you might need at a given distance (since you can turn F16 @50iso 1/48th a second into foot candles and then look into photometrics to get the footcandles of a given unit/distance/beam angle. Or at least that's how i'll use it on occasion.


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#3 Eric F Adams

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:21 AM

Thanks Adrian.  I had to read your answer about 5 times.  Judging from my simply language question, do you really think I'm going to understand "turn F16 @50iso 1/48th a second into foot candles and then look into photometrics to get the footcandles of a given unit/distance/beam angle"   Your language/knowledge is too advance for me.   Could you rephrase your answer as if you are speaking to an 8th grade film class?  Thanks. Eric. 


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#4 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:47 AM

What Adrian was saying is that Sunny 16 is more of a guide than a rule. It gives you a simple way to estimate an exposure, but you still need to interpret that information, just as you would a meter reading.


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#5 Mark Dunn

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Adrian.  I had to read your answer about 5 times.  Judging from my simply language question, do you really think I'm going to understand "turn F16 @50iso 1/48th a second into foot candles and then look into photometrics to get the footcandles of a given unit/distance/beam angle"   Your language/knowledge is too advance for me.   Could you rephrase your answer as if you are speaking to an 8th grade film class?  Thanks. Eric. 

This is a professional forum where a certain level of knowledge is required to get the most out of an informed reply.

A given exposure represents a certain level of luminous flux, measured in footcandles or lux, the metric equivalent. A light unit produces a certain amount of light depending on wattage, luminous efficiency, spot setting and modifiers. So the distance at which it will produce the required output can be calculated, using the science of photometrics, among others.

For the example given, my Samuelson's manual of cinematography tells me that 6300fc are required. That's a lot. But it is only an example.

These concepts can't be expressed in simple terms. If your knowledge is insufficient you may need to do some more reading on the subject. If you're going to shoot film, where there are no instant results, there really is no alternative.


Edited by Mark Dunn, 10 March 2018 - 12:13 PM.

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#6 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 12:22 PM

Adrian explained it well. The Sunny 16 rule was an old guideline for still photographers shooting outdoors without a meter.  As Adrian says, if your ISO number is the same as 1/(ISO number) for your shutter speed, then the exposure in direct sunlight on a clear day near noon was around f/16.  In motion picture terms, since most work is done at 24 fps with a 180 degree shutter angle, which means the shutter speed is 1/48th of a second, you can round this all off to say that if your film stock is 50 ISO, and your shutter time is near 1/50th of a second, then the exposure would be f/16 in frontal, direct sunlight on a clear day.

 

Most of the time when I take out my incident meter and set it to 50 ISO for 24 fps / 180 degree filming, it says f/16.3 in direct sunlight.

 

The bottom line is that not only is it just a guide, a rough one, but it requires knowing your effective ISO and shutter speed.  So if you are shooting 200 ISO stock outdoors without any filters, then you'd have to compensate by two stops because 200 is two-stops faster than 50, so in direct sunlight at 24 fps, you'd be a bit over f/32 instead of a bit over f/16.

 

Now whether you want to overexpose from that reading is up to you.  It isn't uncommon to rate a stock 1/3 to 2/3 slower than the manufacturer recommendation, and on top of that, not uncommon to overexpose a reading in direct sunlight for creative reasons.


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#7 Eric F Adams

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 09:11 PM

Thank you Adrian, Stuart, Mark and David... I appreciate you taking the time to share some knowledge.  

 

"This is a professional forum where a certain level of knowledge is required to get the most out of an informed reply.

These concepts can't be expressed in simple terms. If your knowledge is insufficient you may need to do some more reading on the subject."   

 

Actually, David.  I believe these concepts can be simplified and doesn't this forum have all levels?

 

Here is my situation.  Filming at night i got it covered.  I go 500 (7219) and never had any issues.  Looked good. 

 
At day inside and outside in shade only OR no sun, I never had a problem.  I went 250. Looked good.  
 
Now, for sun, I always had a 400 foot mag of 50 (7203) handy for when I was outside during the day and the sun was bearing down. There were a few times where my processed film was too light (looked like crap) yet my light meter told me to go to 22 (sometimes beyond).  Help me out here.  
 
1) Should I just go to 16 in the sun and not worry about things?
 
2) When my light meter puts me beyond 22, what do I do?
 
3) I am a little afraid to use filters.  Not comfortable enough.  But is there a go to EASY method where I can always pop the same filter on using 50 in the sun and then put it on 16 or something easy like that? 
 
4) The lens reads max 22 but there is 'play' beyond 22. Is the "play" beyond 22 still effective?  
 

 


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#8 Stuart Brereton

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 09:43 PM

The Sunny 16 rule doesn't mean that you should actually expose at f16. It's a guide that tells you what an exposure could be. Most people would not expose at f16, or even f8 on s16mm, for a variety of reasons.

 

Assuming a 180 degree shutter at 24fps, you would have a shutter speed of 1/48 sec. At ISO 50, that would mean a ballpark exposure of f16. Now, most people would likely want to shoot at f2.8 or maybe f4, on s16, so that means that ND filters are necessary. You would need 4 or 5 stops of ND to bring your exposure down to a range where you could shoot at these apertures.


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#9 Gregg MacPherson

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 10:37 PM

Eric, take a breather and do some thinking, reading.  

The f stop is normally a creative decision,  for choosing the depth of field, hence how much of the image is in focus, and which parts.  It's about object separation. Our eye normally seeks the sharp part of the screen.

 

Find an easy way to mount ND filters in front of your lens.  If you are always hand held you may need a Series 9 round filter holder with a round rubber hood, or there are very light weight clamp on 4x4 matte boxs.  Otherwise any 4x4 matte box that sits on rods will be most usefull for the initial experimentation.  Too complicated?  You can always just tape a filter onto the front of a lens, but you have to be aware of light entering the lens barrel.  You can improvise a lens hood with cardboard.

 

If you like using both daylight and tungsten stock outside then you need both 85ND combos and plain 85 filters. If you are scrounging together your own gear, then used 85ND combos are quite cheap.  Actually 4x4 filters generally can be cheap on ebay if you are patient.

 

EDIT: There was a 3x3 rubber matte box for the Zeiss zoom common on the SR.  If you have one you might hunt some 3x3 filters, but they are less common.


Edited by Gregg MacPherson, 10 March 2018 - 10:40 PM.

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#10 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 10 March 2018 - 11:14 PM

Eric.. as I know it... keeping very basic

 

Sunny 16.. not a rule.. in fact sort of just a saving the day thing.. its very bright..the sound recordists wallet crushed your meter.. shoot at F16.. probably be ok..as others have said mostly you actually dont want to be be shooting at f16 let alone f22.. you can get soft images from light refraction .. as the hole is too small .. or something like that.. 

 

You will need ND filters .. its not complicated .. they are like sun glasses for the camera.. in 1 stop levels.. (well there are graduated ones too).. if you put on sun glasses it all goes darker.. your iris opens up to compensate .. do the same with the camera.. I would get a Mattbox rather than screw in round ones.. personally..

 

You can shoot at f16 if you want.. but you will need ND filters to give yourself the choice not to..most video cinema cameras now have them built in.. even the top end ones these days.. some on a very sophisticated level .. 


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#11 Brenton Lee

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 04:23 AM

It kinda makes more sense if you're using an SLR camera with multiple options of shutter speed ..

 

On a sunny day ...

 

ISO 100 film, set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100

 

ISO 200 film set the aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/200

ISO 400 film set the aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to  1/400 ...

 

 

 

being that you don't have the luxury of exotic shutter speeds, as everyone said ... interpret the "rule" to suit your needs. 

 

If you don't like filters, you can modify the light? If you're filming someone sitting the sun, put them under some diffusion to take a few stops of light away? Get creative.

 

I dunno.

 

The easiest thing I found when shooting with filters is learning to understand this chart and especially the ISO side with 'whole' / 'thirds' and adjusting your light meter to suit.

 

http://i0.wp.com/c71...phyuncapped.gif


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#12 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 05:05 AM

You need to bring ND filters when shooting outdoors... though with 50 ISO film, if you get an f/16 in direct sunlight on a clear day, how can you get over an f/22 on your meter? Were you using a spot meter and pointing it at something being lit by the sun that was lighter than 18% grey? Were you shooting at a frame rate that was lower than 24 fps?
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#13 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 05:23 AM

It kinda makes more sense if you're using an SLR camera with multiple options of shutter speed ..

 

On a sunny day ...

 

ISO 100 film, set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed to 1/100

 

ISO 200 film set the aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to 1/200

ISO 400 film set the aperture at f/16, set shutter speed to  1/400 ...

 

 

 

being that you don't have the luxury of exotic shutter speeds, as everyone said ... interpret the "rule" to suit your needs. 

 

If you don't like filters, you can modify the light? If you're filming someone sitting the sun, put them under some diffusion to take a few stops of light away? Get creative.

 

I dunno.

 

The easiest thing I found when shooting with filters is learning to understand this chart and especially the ISO side with 'whole' / 'thirds' and adjusting your light meter to suit.

 

http://i0.wp.com/c71...phyuncapped.gif

 

 

But for filming you nearly always want to keep a 180 degree shutter .. you dont want to use shutter speed /angle or ISO for that matter, really as an exposure tool.. this is a misconception made by people who come for stills or DSLR background..   in the film /video world .. you dont just play around with the shutter and ISO for exposure.. you want to keep them a constant .. there is just one answer .. ND filters.. thats why they exist..


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#14 Michael Rodin

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:43 AM

"This is a professional forum where a certain level of knowledge is required to get the most out of an informed reply.

These concepts can't be expressed in simple terms. If your knowledge is insufficient you may need to do some more reading on the subject."   

 

Actually, David.  I believe these concepts can be simplified and doesn't this forum have all levels?

These concepts are already simplified as much as possible, actually, oversimplified, as Sunny-16 is - to repeat what's already been said - only a rule of thumb to get a printable B&W negative.

 

As a cinematographer, you need at least some minimal control over tonality and contrast. So you use "selective" metering (incident and spot) and knowledge of your stock reacts to various degrees of over/under exposure. I've written about it many times on the forum, can post a link if needed.

 

Exposure isn't difficult to learn, calculating it from meter readings will get intuitive very soon. The underlying theory, which's sensitometery, isn't rocket surgery either.

 

 


Now, for sun, I always had a 400 foot mag of 50 (7203) handy for when I was outside during the day and the sun was bearing down. There were a few times where my processed film was too light (looked like crap) yet my light meter told me to go to 22 (sometimes beyond).  Help me out here. 

 

Always take readings of shadows or generally dark parts of the frame where you need to see texture or show detail. Make sure they read at an exposure which gets you enough density to reveal it. Say, on your batch of 7203 a middle-gray test object prints/scans as dark with little texture when underexposed 3 stops and are pitch black at 3 2/3 stops under. So you conclude, you need shadows read at least 2 2/3 - 3 stops under - or brighter - to have any kind of tonal scale.

Actually, there's more to it when it comes to shooting color (saturation issues etc) but I'd rather not get into colorimetery as for now - this is the complicated stuff, not the exposure.

On color neg, we're generally exposing much closer to the toe than to the shoulder of the curve, and it's easy to lose important shadow detail.


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#15 Michael Rodin

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Posted 11 March 2018 - 11:55 AM

2) When my light meter puts me beyond 22, what do I do?
 
3) I am a little afraid to use filters.  Not comfortable enough.  But is there a go to EASY method where I can always pop the same filter on using 50 in the sun and then put it on 16 or something easy like that? 
 
4) The lens reads max 22 but there is 'play' beyond 22. Is the "play" beyond 22 still effective?  

2) ND filters.

3) Nothing to be afraid of. Nothing. Every 0.3 points of optical density equals a stop. Want to go from 22 to 5,6, throw in an 1.2. Or reset your meter from, say, EI 200 to EI 12.

4) No.


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#16 Brenton Lee

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 02:53 AM

 

 

But for filming you nearly always want to keep a 180 degree shutter .. you dont want to use shutter speed /angle or ISO for that matter, really as an exposure tool.. this is a misconception made by people who come for stills or DSLR background..   in the film /video world .. you dont just play around with the shutter and ISO for exposure.. you want to keep them a constant .. there is just one answer .. ND filters.. thats why they exist..

 

 

I meant using the chart to understand the increments of ISO settings as part of using a light meter and filters. It's all quiet a simple relationship once you take a moment to understand how everything links up.

 

Once you get the confidence of just dropping in a filter, then changing your light meter ISO setting to account for that, life is so much easier.


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#17 Robin R Probyn

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 04:23 AM

 

 

I meant using the chart to understand the increments of ISO settings as part of using a light meter and filters. It's all quiet a simple relationship once you take a moment to understand how everything links up.

 

Once you get the confidence of just dropping in a filter, then changing your light meter ISO setting to account for that, life is so much easier.

 

 

ah ok sorry..but I think if I was the OP ,it would read that you can lower your stop,in bright sun, by going to 1/400th shutter speed ..and/or  changing your ISO.. I think its easier not to bring shutter speeds into it.. as unlike stills .. its something your not usually going to change except shooting slo mo or for some effect..


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#18 Mark Dunn

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 04:34 AM

 

 There were a few times where my processed film was too light (looked like crap) yet my light meter told me to go to 22 (sometimes beyond).  Help me out here.  
 

 
3) I am a little afraid to use filters.  Not comfortable enough.  But is there a go to EASY method where I can always pop the same filter on using 50 in the sun and then put it on 16 or something easy like that? 
 

 

The film looked like "crap" because it was overexposed. You needed to used the appropriate NDs to get the required aperture.

3) No, there isn't an "EASY" method. Film has a fixed sensitivity and needs to be exposed within a quite narrow range to produce acceptable results.

Control of exposure is fundamental to the cinematographer's work and the short cuts you seem to be looking for simply don't exist.

 


Edited by Mark Dunn, 12 March 2018 - 04:34 AM.

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#19 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 12 March 2018 - 07:53 AM

Not sure how much easier photography can get than putting a filter in front of a lens... There are a lot more daunting challenges ahead for you.

 

But considering that you were shooting 50 ASA film, which should be an f/16 exposure in full, direct, hard sunlight at 24 fps, I'm not sure why your meter reading was over f/22 unless it was a spot meter and you were pointing it at something bright, in which case you wouldn't necessarily shoot at that meter reading, with reflective readings you have to decide what brightness over 18% grey something should render.  

 

The only time you need to stop down beyond f/16 on 50 ASA color negative stock, since rarely is there a light brighter than the sun, is when you want to silhouette something against the sun itself in frame or against the sun reflecting off of the ocean, etc.

 

Also, if you are shooting color negative and your positive image (whether a print or a video transfer) comes back too light, that may be a color-correction issue in post, not an exposure problem.

 

Lenses can get a bit softer at f/16 due to diffraction, which is why you'd want to use an ND filter to get below an f/11 unless you were doing a "Citizen Kane" deep-focus effect or were shooting with telephoto lenses.

 

It's simple, put an ND.30 in front of your lens and your 50 ASA stock becomes effectively 25 ASA, put an ND.60 in front and your 50 ASA stock becomes an effective 12 ASA, etc. (so your f/16 exposure becomes a more manageable f/8.)


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