The Sunny F/16 Rule for Outdoor Photographers


For a lot of us, landscape photography is one of our favourite past-times. Being out with nature doing the hobby you love, really is something we enjoy.

It can get a little frustrating if we're not producing the standard of shots that we would like to however.

Luckily, there's a quick and easy “rule” (or as we like to call them, “guidelines”) that can save your daytime landscapes (or any other daytime shot for that matter), at least in terms of exposure and light.

green mountain across body of water
Photo by Kalen Emsley

It's called the f/16 Rule and is sometimes known as the Sunny 16 Rule (or even the Sunny f/16 Rule) and is useful for those who like a guide to landscape photography settings at this time of day.

What is the Sunny 16 Rule?

The basic rule is to shoot at an aperture of f/16 with a shutter speed of 1/125 when shooting at ISO 100.

Or f/16 with a shutter speed of 1 / ISO setting (or as close as your camera settings will allow)

It's basically a way of ensuring a reasonable shot under sunny conditions without recourse to a light meter.

pathway between yellow flower field
Photo by Raquel Pedrotti

Let's Look at Some Examples of the Sunny 16 Rule

These examples worth with film or digital.

For example, let's say you were shooting on 400 ISO film.

The formula would be f/16 and 1/400 speed.

With ISO 800, it would be f/16 and 1/800 speed.

Just in case that still doesn't make sense, try out these other links on the f/16 Rule:

The Sunny f/16 Rule
And on Wikipedia
And one more…

About Author

Rob is the founder of Light Stalking. His love for photography started as a child with a Kodak Instamatic and pushed him into building this fantastic place all these years later, and you can get to know him better here.
Rob's Gear
Camera: Nikon D810
Lenses: Nikkor 14-24 f/2.8, Nikkor 50mm f/1.8

Nice tip but….

Surely at ISO 400 the shutter speed should be 1/500 (and 1/1000 for ISO 800)

Will be testing this 🙂

great tip. the shutter speeds and f stop coordination actually make a lot of sense.
F16 is the same f stop we used to study the hyperfocal distance in school a couple of weeks ago. but this article just put new light to why we were restricted to that number, specially with the 1/ISO concept. well done!

What if your camera can only go as low as f/8? Would lowering the equivalent shutter speed to half work?

Let’s say at f/8 at ISO 100, equivalent shutter speed would be 1/50?

Thanks for sharing BTW.

thank you for the tip. I have problems figuring out what settings to use so this will be helpful to at least take the picture using the f16 rule and then experimenting with other settings.

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