New improved manual exposure cheat sheet (updated in March 2019)

In december 2017 I published my handy little cheat sheet for manual exposure settings. It’s now March 2019 and I’ve now made some updates to the chart. Back in the day, I wanted to create an extended sunny 16 rule, that would cover other typical, available light conditions, other than just sunny weather conditions.

This is a small, business card size (8,5×5,5cm) chart that you can print at home and throw to your wallet or camera bag. The chart is aimed for anyone who’s into learning to shoot completely manually, hand-held, relying on available light, without a light meter.

The new updated chart now goes to ISO 1600 instead of 800. At some point I’m planning to include EV-values to the chart as well. At the moment the chart covers only lenses that go up to f2.8, but faster lenses will be covered in the next version too.

Download the PDF here:

Words of advice to help you on the way

The settings are mostly based on the sunny 16 rule and my personal experience. I live in Finland which isn’t known for it’s amazing sunshine. That is something to bear in mind if you live somewhere closer the equator (you lucky bastard) and want to print out one of these. I’d be very happy to get some feedback as well, if you encounter critical brain farts or corrections.

The chart isn’t 100% comprehensive, but it describes the most common lighting situations you’d most likely to encounter, which means you can use these settings as a good starting point. Because there is such a limited amount of space available, I didn’t include every possible lighting condition possible, but only the most typical ones. They’ll get you far!

Remember to make your own judgement and compensate for variables. if you’re shooting on the streets, tall buildings may for example block a significant amount of light, one or two stops perhaps, depending on the situation, even though it might otherwise be delightfully bright — train your eye! (Remember the old wisdom: when in doubt, lean towards over exposure.) Use the chart for what it is, as a cheat sheet, and don’t follow it blindly, just as you wouldn’t trust a light meter blindly.

Example photos made using the chart’s settings (no light meter used)

Low light setting of my chart. Portra 800. Shutter speed: 1/15, aperture: f2.8. Hand held. No colour corrections in Photoshop.

Well lit indoor lighting. Not quite like an Apple store, but a very well lit department store. Portra 800. Shutter speed 1/125. Aperture f2.8.

Shit weather settings. It was a very bleak day and I could have used average weather settings for this one, but the buildings blocked enough light to justify a one stop compensation. Shot on Portra 800.

Typical indoors light. Portra 800. Shutter speed 1/60. Aperture f2.8.

Average weather settings. Not exactly sunny, not exactly dark. Just a very overcasty day. I used a middle of the way shutter speed and a middle of the way aperture. I of course metered for the children in the foreground, which was a much darker area than the sky, which is almost overblown in this image. That’s why it may appear to be brighter than it actually was, but in fact the sky was very grey and much darker than it appears. Shot on Cinestill 800.

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