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  1. #1
    Senior Member
    Vincent's Avatar

    Photography stops

    I was looking into light meters and came to the topic of correct exposure. (working with an old camera fearing the battery might run out and where only the light meeter stops in this camera)
    It clarified what a stop was for me, I wanted to share.

    When we look at a scene we can now what the light is, we do not need a meter for that. OK it takes some exercise, but humans are not bad at it.

    Now depending on the light you need to adapt your ISO, shutter speed or aperture.

    I learned by heart: Normal sunlight is EV15 ISO100 1/1000s f5.6

    from that you can change 2 parameters in opposite direction and you still have correct exposure (change the same number of stops):
    For ISO and shutter speed 1 stop is *2 or /2.
    For aperture 1 stop is the next in line in the series: 1; 1.4; 2; 2.8; 4; 5.6; 8; 11; ... (this is 1; 1.4; 2*1; 2*1.4; ....)

    So normal sunlight is also EV15 ISO200 1/2000s f5.6 or EV15 ISO100 1/500s f8.

    When you see clouds the light is a bit less, that is about a stop: EV14 ISO100 1/500s f5.6; ...

    I tried it on different scenes at lunch (under tree, skyline exposure, different sides of the tree, cars, sun/cloudy, etc...) and even if I do still miss 20%; 80% of the time this allowed me to manually set my camera in a position where I have maximum 1/3 of a stop of deviation without using the internal meter to set the parameters.
    Obviously you can also work in between stops (on 1/3ds) in this way.

    It seems very useful to me to check what your (internal) light meter states by looking at the light yourself and maybe correct (EV+-) and to evaluate material purchases, when knowing the relationship between capabilities and the effect in stops.

    P.S. some use the sunny 16 rule, this should work similarly.


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  2. #2
    Senior Member
    Horoscope Fish's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    Quote Originally Posted by Vincent View Post
    I was looking into light meters and came to the topic of correct exposure. (working with an old camera fearing the battery might run out and where only the light meeter stops in this camera)
    It clarified what a stop was for me, I wanted to share.

    When we look at a scene we can now what the light is, we do not need a meter for that. OK it takes some exercise, but humans are not bad at it.

    Now depending on the light you need to adapt your ISO, shutter speed or aperture.

    I learned by heart: Normal sunlight is EV15 ISO100 1/1000s f5.6

    from that you can change 2 parameters in opposite direction and you still have correct exposure (change the same number of stops):
    For ISO and shutter speed 1 stop is *2 or /2.
    For aperture 1 stop is the next in line in the series: 1; 1.4; 2; 2.8; 4; 5.6; 8; 11; ... (this is 1; 1.4; 2*1; 2*1.4; ....)

    So normal sunlight is also EV15 ISO200 1/2000s f5.6 or EV15 ISO100 1/500s f8.

    When you see clouds the light is a bit less, that is about a stop: EV14 ISO100 1/500s f5.6; ...

    I tried it on different scenes at lunch (under tree, skyline exposure, different sides of the tree, cars, sun/cloudy, etc...) and even if I do still miss 20%; 80% of the time this allowed me to manually set my camera in a position where I have maximum 1/3 of a stop of deviation without using the internal meter to set the parameters.
    Obviously you can also work in between stops (on 1/3ds) in this way.

    It seems very useful to me to check what your (internal) light meter states by looking at the light yourself and maybe correct (EV+-) and to evaluate material purchases, when knowing the relationship between capabilities and the effect in stops.

    P.S. some use the sunny 16 rule, this should work similarly.
    That's called Exposure Reciprocity and it's one of the basic rules that used to be taught to photographers some years ago. The concept seems to baffle many but as you correctly point out once we establish a base-line for proper exposure we can adjust our settings and *know* our exposure is still correct while controlling depth of field (aperture), motion blur (shutter speed) and digital noise/grain (ISO).

    Using Sunny 16 as our baseline we know f/16 @ 1/125 (Sunny 16) = f/8 @ 1/250 = f/5.6 @1/500 = f4/@1/1000 = f/2.8 @1/2000 etc. etc. etc.

    We can do the same thing with ISO. If use "Sunny 16" at ISO 400 then f/16 @ 1/400 = f/8 @ 1/800 = f5.6 @ 1/1600 = f/4 @ 1/3200 etc. etc. etc.

    Of course now we all have preview LCD's and histograms so these base skills are becoming a sort of Lost Art.

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  3. #3
    Senior Member
    aroy's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    I have seen old timers in film era get the exposure spot on without a meter. Today with the latitude offered by a wide DR in digital sensors I can get away with a stop of over exposure and a few stops of under exposure. But still, knowing the sunny 16 rule does help if the meter in the body starts acting up.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member
    WayneF's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    Latitude is a key point. Sunny 16 said bright sun was a shutter speed of 1/ISO at f/16, and it worked well for negative film, which had wide latitude, so exact exposure was less important for the negative film. It could always be corrected in the dark room. Photo finisher labs did heroic things with exposure and white balance of our film (mostly we not even know about white balance). Overexposure was sort of a virtue for negative film, extra insurance. However, slide reversal film and digital is harder, certainly overexposure becomes a real problem.

    I think every roll of Kodak film sold had an instruction sheet that included Sunny 16 (as exposure instruction). Its hard for us to judge degree of overcast and cloudy exactly, but watching the shadows makes it much easier. Sharp shadows, soft shadows, barely visible shadows, no shadows. these were one stop steps. We can see that. And we ought to still always notice it.

    Our meters will be much more accurate, but a thought in our head ought to always be, is this a reasonable reading? Comparing to Sunny 16 is a backup. Sunny 16 does not work at all well in partial shade situations, but it is pretty good out in the open, out in the light that exists. The meter is always better (if done right), but it ought not to disagree too much.

    Sunny 16 says bright sun is not exactly EV 15, but within 1/3 stop. EV is not based on the sun, but instead the base is that any 1 second f/1 exposure is EV 0.
    Last edited by WayneF; 08-22-2014 at 08:47 PM.

  5. #5
    Senior Member
    aroy's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    The sunny 16 rule is more attuned to the European sun. Here in East the sun is much stronger so one has to adjust for that, may be sunny 32 will be more like it.
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  6. #6
    Senior Member
    Vincent's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    Quote Originally Posted by aroy View Post
    The sunny 16 rule is more attuned to the European sun. Here in East the sun is much stronger so one has to adjust for that, may be sunny 32 will be more like it.
    It is absolutely true that you have to adapt to your environment. Your reference might be different, but the principle remains.


    I talked to an oldie in the trade and he stated that the diaporama develpment on film did not have a lot of latitude, you needed a meter since being wrong will lead to not usable results.
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  7. #7
    Senior Member
    Vincent's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    A practical application of this.
    I have the impression that the Sony A7 II is of no use for me, I have to stay with my idea to get better ISO performance, let us reason in stops.

    Sony A7 II
    IBIS 4.5 stops improvement on the shutter speed.
    ISO 6400 (DXO Mark Dynamic Range EV score of 8 for the original A7)
    24 Mpix

    better ISO: Sony A7s
    ISO 51200 (that is 3 stops better then the A7 II)
    12 Mpix
    ========================
    So in overall the A7 II is better due to better resolution and system that makes you gain more stops (1.5 more).
    If I want to take a picture with a 50mm I can do 1/2s schutter time hand held normally with good results, with a bit of technique even slower.

    Now the A7s has only 12 Mpix, but the strength is that it shows good 12 Mpix at high ISO.

    Take a scene which needs flash: 5EV Night home interiors, average light. School or church auditoriums. Subjects lit by campfires or bonfires.
    Can you do something without flash with this new technology?
    We start from daylight 15EV 1/1000s ISO 200 f5.6.
    There is gain of 10 EV needed, we go down to f2.8 so 8EV left to gain.

    A7 II: 1/3s ISO 200 f2.8 would be possible and give the picture with a 50mm;
    clearly I might choose f5.6 ISO 6400 1/30 s to be able to handle a little movement and have more DOF.

    A7s: 1/250s ISO 12800 f2.8 is well possible according to most reports
    Clearly I might want to choose: ISO 51200 f5.6 1/250s for a high shutter speed with more DOF.

    So now it depends what you want to do.
    The A7 II is good for a choir concert ,if their song is not too energetic.
    I`ll probably be in a ruin looking at a birds nest with a telephoto and for me the A7 II will be useless at 1/30s, obviously a Df or D3s will do better for me, since the shutter speed is higher due to the stops gained in ISO and not in slower shutter speed.
    Last edited by Vincent; 12-15-2014 at 09:48 PM. Reason: too many spaces
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  8. #8
    Senior Member
    sonicbuffalo's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    I still can't figure out what you're saying

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  9. #9
    Senior Member
    Stoshowicz's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    I always wondered why the camera couldn't expressly function as an absolute light meter rather than meter relative to exposure. Thats to say, give a numerical value somewhere above completely dark.
    Calibrated to maximum aperture of the lens. Then I imagine one could more easily leap to the settings they might use. As in , this view has an approximate brightness of eight so Ill go with Iso 400.
    It seems an increased complication to have the camera compute exposure , and then Ive got to backcalculate exposure compensation or adjustment.
    Right now I do a lot of rough rule of thumb guesswork and don't have time to chimp the shot.
    Essentially Im thinking it would be a refinement on eyeballing degree of shadow
    Last edited by Stoshowicz; 12-23-2014 at 11:08 PM.

  10. #10
    Senior Member
    Englischdude's Avatar

    Re: Photography stops

    glad i got into photography during the digital age!
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    Martin

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