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Art Deco Cameras

Snapshot Performance of Vintage Cameras

How will your old vintage camera perform?

The Issue

Paris Gap
Paris GAP

Don't let complex metering issues put you off enjoying your vintage cameras. Many vintage cameras have fixed or limited speed and aperture settings. This may put you off using them. However, using the calculator below, you can see how well your camera will perform on a summer's day.

The 'Sunny 16’ rule is a method of estimating correct daylight exposures without a light meter. The rule states that "On a sunny day set aperture to f/16 and shutter speed to the reciprocal of the ISO film speed". So, on a sunny day using ISO 100 film, set the aperture to f/16 and the speed to 1/100s.

The rule is based on incident light rather than reflected light so the intricacies of the 'zone system' and other systems invented to confuse things don't apply. The table below works well for negative film which has a lot of latitude, but not so well for colour slide film where more accurate exposure is desirable.

How to use the calculator

The assumption for using the calculator below is that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon. In the UK that's 10am - 5pm on a summers day from May to August and 11am - 4pm for April and September. A simple and effective way to check if the sunny 16 rule can be applied in any country at any time, is if your shadow is less than 3 large paces.

From this basic setting, other settings for different weather conditions, different apertures and different shutter speeds can be calculated. The information for working out these settings can be found elsewhere on the web. Simply use the calculators below to be able to enjoy your vintage camera without stress.

This calculator has been designed with vintage cameras in mind. The speed and aperture settings are what you might find on these old cameras. Film is very forgiving and can be overexposed by 3 stops or underexposed by 1 stop without significant effect on the final image. If the settings don't tally with the camera you are using, just get as close as you can.

Try changing the ISO of the film you might use to see which gives better coverage for the weather conditions you are working in.

The Calculator

Remember - The assumption is that the sun is at least 30 degrees above the horizon. In the UK, that's approximately 10am - 5pm on a summers day from May to August and 11am - 4pm for April and September. For any country at any time, your shadow should be less than 3 large paces.

Choose Your Parameters

Speed   Aperture   ISO  

Snapshot Performance

Weather ConditionsShadow DetailExposure
Sunny Snow/SandDark with sharp edges+1 Stop - Acceptable
SunnyDistinctGood Exposure
Slight OvercastSoft around edges-1 Stop - Acceptable
OvercastBarely visible-2 Stops - Not Acceptable
Heavy OvercastNone-3 Stops - Not Acceptable
Open Shade /Sunset *None-4 Stops - Not Acceptable

* open shade means subject in the shade but looking out into an open and bright sky.