I have Nikon D7000 with 50 mm lens and like to shoot my family with 1.8 aperture. But, in sunlight it looks so bright. I am a beginner and had try to increase the shutter speed in manual but it's still so bright. When I change to auto, it chooses the f/8 aperture, which I don't like. What can I do?

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  • Sunny 16 and EV 15 are 1/3 stop different, but brightest direct sun can be EV 15 (mildest haze can be slightly less). ISO 100, f/2 and 1/8000 second is EV15, and ought to be about right in brightest direct sun. – WayneF Jan 6 '17 at 1:49
  • I don't understand how this is a duplicate. The other question is asking about a slow shutter speed, whereas this question is asking about a large aperture. Those are different things, and the solution is not the same. – Nathaniel Jan 7 '17 at 14:57

There is a reason it's choosing f/8 aperture: With most lenses the sharpest image is produced at apertures in that range. The only reason to select wider apertures when you don't need the light is to produce a shallower depth of field, in which case you have three options to compensate for the exposure:

  1. Increase shutter speed
  2. Decrease ISO
  3. If you run out of range on the first two then you need to add neutral density filters to your lens to cut the amount of light passing through the lens.
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    I think it's more likely to be choosing f/8 in order to get a good exposure, not because it magically knows the sweet spot of the lens... – ElendilTheTall Feb 9 '15 at 12:54

Since I doubt you want or can increase the shutter speed, you should get a ND filter.

You've already mentioned that you've tried to increase the shutter speed, and you most likely already know about ISO, a neutral density filter would be the way to go for you. A ND filter is basically a gray "lens" that darkens your image. ND filters have various densities, like ND2, ND4, ND8 and so on. ND4, for example darkens the image by 2 full f-stops. The best is you figure out with your camera how many f-stops you have to go up to get the desired result (Remember, the aperture of your camera is divided into 1/3-stop increments. So 3 aperture steps on your camera is one full f-stop.) After you've figured out what f-stop reduction you need, you can check the Neutral density filter Wiki page, to see what type of ND filter you need.

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    Why would he not want to increase the shutter speed as much as necessary? – Michael Borgwardt Feb 8 '15 at 11:01
  • Since he's mentioned that he tried already to increase the shutter speed as much as possible, I guess he's going for a certain style that needs a slower shutter speed (flowing water, waving hair, etc). Although, it might as well could be that the sun in his shot is so bright, that the max shutter speed of his camera is still too slow. Whatever case it may be, according to him increasing the shutter speed did not resolve his issue, and the only viable option I can think of would be a ND filter. – eppic Feb 8 '15 at 14:57

There is a very old and very good rule of thumb called "Sunny Sixteen" that, while not always accurate (and not a great way to determine critical exposure with a digital camera) can help you check the sanity of whatever your camera's meter is telling you.

"Sunny Sixteen" basically says that, in bright midday sun (the "sunny" part), in "ordinary surroundings", your ISO becomes your shutter speed at f/16. So for your D7000, when set to its minimum ISO of 100, under bright sunshine, your "sanity check" exposure would be 1/100 of a second at f/16. (If the indicated exposure is too far away from that, your meter is probably being tricked by something, like a preponderance of light or dark elements in your frame.) If you want to go to f/1.8, then you'd need to go through this series:

if f/16 → 1/100, then

f/11 → 1/200

f/8 → 1/400

f/5.6 → 1/800

f/4 → 1/1600

f/2.8 → 1/3200

f/2 → 1/6400

f/1.8 → 1/8000

So, in sunny midday conditions in "ordinary surroundings", you'd need to have your camera at its lowest ISO and highest shutter speed to use f/1.8. But then you need to think about what "ordinary surroundings" might mean, and whether or not you are in them. Light sands, expanses of light grey concrete, snow, being in the midst of light-coloured buildings and so on, are not "ordinary surroundings" (which basically boil down to green fields, middling-grey streets, darker rocks and the like); you're actually getting a whole lot of additional reflected light rather than just what's coming directly from the sun and sky. If your surroundings are at all bright, and you're already at your lowest ISO and highest shutter speed, you are left with only two "straight" options:

  • use a smaller aperture (f/2, f/2.2 or f/2.5 probably won't kill the image); or
  • use a neutral density filter (sunglasses for your camera) to keep f/1.8

Alternatively, you may find that a polarizing filter can bring the exposure back into a region that your camera can deal with, while also enhancing the image. A polarizer will reduce your overall exposure by about 1-1/2 to 2 stops (that depends on the direction of light and the angle of your filter), bringing your shutter speed down to within the camera's range (like Polaroid sunglasses), but it also allows you to adjust the relative tones of the things in your image at the same time (making the sky darker, for instance, or eliminating harsh reflections on skin). While there are many very good reasons for buying a ND (neutral density) filter, a circular polarizer can do many, many more good things for your pictures under many more circumstances. It's a little bit more expensive than a neutral density filter, but it's probably the wiser buy.

  • So to summarise, go to manual mode, set ISO = 100, shutter speed = 1/8,000 and aperture = f/1.8. Take a shot. Adjust slightly if required. – youcantryreachingme Jan 6 '17 at 1:49

Have you tried using aperture priority mode? (That will probably be Av or A on the mode dial, depending on your camera.) That mode allows you to set the aperture you want, while allowing the camera to set the shutter speed and sensitivity to get a good exposure. This would be the first thing to try, and there's a good chance that it will just work.

However, it might be that if you try that it still comes out too bright. If that happens, the reason is that there is just too much light coming in through the lens. There is a limit to how low the sensitivity can be set (usually ISO 100 unless your camera is quite expensive), and to how fast the shutter can move. So if there's too much light the picture will still be overexposed. Your camera might indicate this by making the ISO and shutter speed blink on the display - that's telling you they're at their limits and it can't change them further.

If that happens you can still get the shot, but you'll need a neutral density filter. This is a filter that cuts out every frequency of light by an equal amount, so that less light gets to the sensor. As others have said there are several types of ND filter, and you could also use a circular polarising filter instead.

If the image is only slightly overexposed you might be able to get the shot without buying a filter, by shooting in raw and then reducing the exposure in software later. This works (sometimes) because the raw format has a greater dynamic range than jpeg, so if the whites are slightly blown out in the jpeg version they might still be okay in the raw.

Another thing to try would just be to stay in aperture priority mode and just close the aperture slightly (i.e. try a slightly higher f number), to see if that brings the exposure down enough to get a good image while still giving you an acceptably shallow depth of field for the shot you want.


There are three things you can control on your camera that affect how much light is recorded:

  • Aperture
  • Shutter speed
  • ISO (film speed)

Aperture refers to how far open the lens is. The smaller the number (like f/1.8), the wider the lens is opened, letting in more light.

Shutter speed refers to how fast the shutter opens and closes. The bigger the number (like 1), the longer the shutter is open, letting in more light.

ISO refers to how sensitive the film (or digital sensor) is to light. The bigger the number, the more sensitive the sensor is to light. So, on a bright, sunny day, you'll want to use a small ISO.

When you fix one of these values, you have to adjust the other two in order to compensate for the amount of available light. If there's lots of light, and you want to open your lens up as wide as it will go (f/1.8), then you'll need to increase the shutter speed and/or decrease the ISO.

Since you've adjusted the shutter speed, that just leaves ISO. Decrease it in order to record less light (and thus darken the photo).

Finally, it is important to note that aperture also controls something called "depth of field" which refers to the focal range of the photo. A small aperture number (like f/1.8) produces a shallow depth of field, meaning that the foreground will be in focus and the background will be blurry. Likewise, a large aperture number (like f/22) produces a wide depth of field, meaning that both the foreground and the background will be in focus.

In my experience, f/1.8 produces such a shallow depth of field that a person's nose will be in focus, but their eyes will be blurry. So, you may want to consider using a slightly larger aperture number, which could also help with the bright light situation.

This article provides some examples of what different apertures look like: http://www.techradar.com/how-to/photography-video-capture/cameras/what-is-the-best-aperture-and-focal-length-for-portraits-1320882


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