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Sunny-16: for optimum exposure when shooting on a clear, sunny day outdoors (distinct shadows), set the aperture to f/16 and the shutter speed as the reciprocal of the ISO.

While reading about the sunny-16 rule, I found a table (below) that shows which shutter speed is needed to maintain the same exposure as f/16 with 1/200 @ ISO 200 when aperture is opened up one stop at a time and the ISO is kept at 200.

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My question is: If I was shooting action in heavy overcast conditions (very dim and dreary with no visible shadows), then the heavy overcast-5.6 rule would apply. Given that I must use a shutter speed of ~1/2000 sec to freeze the subject motion, should I use:

a) f/5.6 with 1/2000 sec @ ISO 2000

b) f/5.6 with 1/2000 sec @ ISO 200

c) f/5.6 with 1/1600 sec @ ISO 200

d) neither (a) nor (b) nor (c).

Answers appreciated. Please correct any errors as I am not well versed with this yet. I am planning on buying my first DSLR and lens soon but I am not sure which lens aperture is best for my purposes.

marked as duplicate by mattdm lens Jul 11 at 22:55

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  • Answer is a) but what is the point? You need a lens that opens at least at f/5.6 otherwise the autofocus system in your camera won't work. – xenoid Jul 11 at 22:20
  • @xenoid Thanks. Based on the chart, I thought I could set aperture at f/5.6 and use 1/1600 @ ISO 200, which would give an exposure equivalent to f/16 with 1/200 @ ISO 200. I also figured that if the aperture is changed, then I can change only shutter speed and keep ISO constant (or vice versa) to compensate. – baz Jul 11 at 22:34
  • 1
    What makes you think that you need 1/2000? That’s wickedly fast. See Michael C’s Examples here: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/83483/… – Hueco Jul 11 at 22:53
  • Thanks for the replies everyone. Fortunately, I found this website (link) that has answered all my questions. – baz Jul 12 at 2:19
  • That website basically encapsulates the knowledge from the linked duplicate into a handy calculator. – mattdm Jul 12 at 17:28

Heavy overcast f/5.6 rule pairs 1/2000s with ISO2000 which would likely look awful. So open your aperture 2 stops and drop the ISO 2 stops letting you arrive at f/2.8 at ISO500 while maintaining 1/2000s.

Frankly: heavily overcast and the need to freeze subject motion at 1/2000s timing implies a fast moving subject at reasonably close vicinity (or at that angular speed it would likely be supersonic). That makes it somewhat likely that you will be better off freezing the object motion with a flash, possibly getting some background better exposed by using slow-sync (there will be a bit of motion blur from the subject itself from the slow sync exposure but since the subject is moving so fast, it will be spread out and make up only a fraction of the subject's exposure). For this kind of exposure, rear curtain flash sync tends to give the visually more pleasing results.

If you have a suitably powerful flash (because otherwise it will be active for too long when producing the required illumination, but then it probably does not need to reach far), it's certainly worth a try putting some of it in. Background will then get deemphasized by darkening compared to the approach of opening up aperture when it will get deemphasized by blurring.

  • Depends what you shoot. At an airshow if you want crisp picture of jet planes you need a short exposure. Of course for propeller planes you cannot go much higher than 1/250 to keep a bit of bur on the propellers but that requires to be good at following the plane. – xenoid Jul 11 at 23:03

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