Who Needs a Meter Anyway?

Now that we’re right in the middle of summer, its a good time to get acquainted with the Sunny 16 rule! You might have heard that term before, but basically what it means is that on a sunny day, at the aperture of f/16 you can simply set the shutter speed to correspond closest with the ISO of the film you’re shooting to get the right exposure. For example, if you’re shooting an ISO 400 film, at 1/500th of a second and f/16 on a sunny day, the exposure will more than likely be correct. As the day gets cloudier and darker simply change the settings to go down a stop gradually.

To those who worry about getting it wrong, don’t overthink it because colour and B&W films have more than enough latitude that one or two stops over or underexposure won’t be enough to ruin the photo. In fact, I personally like to lean on the side of overexposure as film, especially colour film, still maintains a lot of detail when overexposed. Many people actually purposely overexpose colour films to get more detail in the shadows!

What this should tell you is that don’t be scared when you find an older, mechanical camera with a broken meter. Yes, a meter would be great just in case, and if you really need it there are light meter apps for your phone that are not half bad. But a camera with a broken meter can often be had for cheaper, while still being able to fire off the same shutter speeds and take the same lenses as their metered counterparts. And with the sun shining ever so brightly, why not try the Sunny 16 rule? After all, at f/16 most things will be in focus anyways and there’s so much light for you to get things underexposed anyways. Before you know it you’ll be able to guess the right settings just by looking at the light.

One of the most popular cameras of their time is the Pentax Spotmatics. Still a great SLR but often their light meters are non-operational, which means they generally sell for alot cheaper than most of the other second hand cameras we have here on consignment. It is a shame because they really are a wonderful workhorse, with a huge variety of fantastic lenses available. Now that you know the Sunny 16 rule though there’s no reason you can’t make one of these classic cameras work for you! You can pick one up here at Beau with a lens for anywhere from $100 – $200 or without a lens starting at $40.00.


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Beau Photo Supplies Inc.
Beau Photo Supplies Inc.