An online book of Common Sense Photography, by Rhett Stuart

Sunny 16 Rule


The Sunny f/16 Rule is to help us double check our camera to make the proper exposure for a sunny day. Usually on a sunny day, using an aperture of f/16 and a shutter speed that matches the ISO speed will give a good exposure. For example if ISO 200 is used, then use a1/200 second shutter speed.

The f-number of the aperture will need to be adjusted downwards for situations with lower light.

If it isn't sunny then use the following as a guide.

f/16 sunny
f/11 slight overcast or in the shade.
f/8 overcast some.
f/5.6 heavy overcast with no shadows
f/4 sunrises and sunsets.

Why bother with the Sunny 16 rule when your camera has a built in exposure meter? Well, to double check yourself. Maybe you manually overrode a camera setting and you forgot to change it back later. A quick estimate of the exposure can help assure you the photograph will turn out as you expect. It gives you a manual reference point for proper exposure during the day.