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A Predecessor to the Sunny 16 Rule

While perusing an old photography magazine on Archive.org I found an early predecessor to the Sunny 16 rule we use today.


The magazine was published in the Summer of 1937. We can learn a lot about photography from looking at this table. For one many of the shutter speeds will look somewhat different than we are used to. Modern shutters use fractions like this: 1/1000, 1/500, 1/250, 1/125, 1/60, 1/30, 1/15, 1/8, 1/4, 1/2.

If you picked up a camera of this era, for one, the shortest speed: 1/1000'th would have been a fancy camera. Many cameras of the era maxed out at 1/300, or 1/400. Most cameras also used a slightly different scale too: instead of the more modern 1/4 they veered to 1/5 and went up from there to 1/10, 1/25, 1/50, 1/100, 1/200, 1/400.

Another thing to note (go to the original magazine article, link supplied) and you will see a wide variety of films. None of the films listed exist today. Most of the companies are now only footnotes in photographic history. And what speed was "Ultra Rapid"- the fastest films on the list? A little research determined that the fastest table is for (what we now call ISO) 100! The "Ordinary" category appears to be films rated to around the modern ISO 32!


Here's the text of the article, but it's all jumbled, go to Archive.org and read and/or download the original: 

The Amateur Photographer” EXPOSURE TABLE" —July 


EVERY MONTH a brief exposure table will be provided for the assistance of our readers in their practical work. A glance at the current approximate exposures as here given will serve as a reliable guide for most purposes. The subjects will be varied to suit the time of year. The following exposures will serve as a working guide for any fine day during the month, between the hours of 10 in the morning and 2 in the afternoon, with the sun shining, but not necessarily on the subject. Stop used, f/8. The exposure should be doubled if the sun is obscured, or if stop f/11 is used. For f/16 give four times the exposure. For f/5.6 give half. From 8 to 10 a.m. or from 2 to 4 p.m. double these exposures. From 6 to 8 a.m. or from 4 to 6 p.m., treble them. N.B.—The times given above are by “ sun time." The exposures, therefore, which are laid down as suitable for 2 to 4 p.m., for instance, will be those to be given between 3 and 5 p.m., by the clock, during “ summer time.”

Subject. Ultra-Rapid. Extra-Rapid. Rapid. Medium. Ordinary. Slow and Process. Open seascapes and cloud studies l/1000sec. 1/700 sec. 1/400 sec. 1/200 sec. 1/100 sec. 1/50 sec. Open landscapes with no very heavy shadows in foreground, shipping studies or seascapes with rocks, beach scenes .. 1/500 * * 1/300 y y 1/200 y y 1/100 y y 1/50 „ 1/25 y y Ordinary landscapes with not too much foliage, open river scenery, figure studies in the open, light buildings, wet street scenes 1/300 * y 1/200 yy 1/100 yy 1/50 y y 1/25 „ 1/15 yy Landscapes in fog or mist, or with strong foreground, well-lighted street scenes 1/200 y y 1/100 yy 1/50 y y 1/25 y y 1/15 „ 1/8 y y Buildings or trees occupying greater portion of picture 1/60 y y 1/30 y y 1/20 y y 1/10 y y 1/5 „ 1/3 y y Portraits or groups taken out of doors, not too much shut in by buildings .. 1/25 y y 1/15 y y 1/8 y y 1/4 y y 1/2 „ 1 y y Portraits in well-lighted room, light sur¬ roundings, big window, white reflector 1/10 y y 1/5 yy 1/3 yy 3/4 y y \\ secs. 3 secs. As a further guide we append a list of some of the best-known makes of plates and films on the market. They have been divided into groups, which approximately indicate the speeds referred to above. ROLL AND PACK FILMS. PLATES AND CUT FILMS. Ultra-Rapid. AGFA I.S.S. and Isochrom roll and pack, Isopan I.S.S. (35-mm.). ENSIGN Ultrachrome. GEVAERT Superchrome Express and Panchromosa 28 roll and pack. KODAK S.S. Pan. roll and pack; Super-X (35-mm.). LUMIERE Super-Lumichrome. MIMOSA Extrema. NURO Superchrome. PERUTZ Peromnia and Persenso roll and pack ; Peromnia (35-mm.). SELO H.S. Pan. roll and pack; Selochrome roll and pack. VOIGTLANDER Bessapan and Illustra. WESTMINSTER roll. ZEISS IKON Orthochrom and Panchrom roll and pack. Extra-Rapid. AGFA Isopan and Isorapid roll and pack ; Isochrom F roll; Isochrom F and Isopan F (35-mm.). BARNET Sensichrome. CORONET Midget and Vogue. ENSIGN Ortho. GEVAERT Regular roll and pack; Panchromosa 24 (35-mm.). GRANVILLE Paper film. KODAK S.S. Pan. (35-mm.); Verichrome roll and pack. LUMIERE I.umichrome. MIMOSA Panchroma. NURO Nuro. PERUTZ Perpantic and Neo-Persenso. SELO and F.G. Selochrome roll. SELO F.G. Pan. roll; H.S. Pan. 35-mm. STANDARD roll. VOIGTLANDER Bessapan F. ZEISS IKON Standard Speed ; Contax Panchrom 26. Rapid. BARNET Standard roll. DUFAYCOLOR Colour Film. GEVAERT Superchrom 35-mm. KODAK Regular and Panatomic roll; Panatomic (35-mm.) PERUTZ Perorto. SELO Selochrome (35-mm.); F.G. Pan. (35-mm.). ZEISS IKON Contax Panchrom 24. Medium. AGFA Isopan FF and Isochrom FF (35-mm). GEVAERT Special and PanchromosaMicrogran (35-mm.); PanchromosaSpecial roll and pack. LUMIERE Filmcolor.* PERUTZ Feinkom roll; Rectepan and Leica Special (35-mm.). • Give 10 times indicated exposure. Ordinary. AGFA New Agfacolor (35-mm.). Ultra-Rapid. AGFA Isochrom and I.S.S. Portrait films; Ultra-Special, Press, Iso¬ chrom and I.S.S. plates. BARNET U.S. Pan., Super-pan. Press, Super-Press and Super-Iso plates. EASTMAN S.S. Pan. and Portrait Pan. films. GEVAERT Superchrome film ; UltraPanchro 8,000, Superchrom R., Ultra-Press Ortho., Isomax and Super-Press plates. ILFORD Hyperchromatic and H.S. Pan. films ; H.S. Pan., Golden IsoZenith and Double X-Press plates. Extra-Rapid. AGFA Isopan Portrait film ; Isorapid, Chromo-Isorapid and Isopan plates. BARNET Portrait film ; X-L SuperSpeed, Soft Pan. and SuperSpeed Ortho, plates. CRITERION 700 Iso. EASTMAN Par-Speed film. GEV'AERT Ultra-Pan. and High-Speed films; Ortho-Sensima Fast plate. GRANVILLE Negative Card ; UltraRapid Iso and Quickiso plates. ILFORD Portrait Ortho. Fast film; S.G. Pan., Record, Iso-Record, Zenith 650, Iso-Zenith and Press Ortho, plates. Rapid. AGFA Chromo-Isolar plates. BARNET S.R. Pan., Studio-Ortho, and Self-Screen Ortho, plates. CRITERION Enelite and Press plates. GEVAERT Sensima and Ortho. Sensima plates. GRANVILLE Special Rapid. ILFORD F.G. Panchro. and Portrait Medium Speed films ; S.R. Pan., Special Rapid, Autofilter, AntiScreen and Rapid Chromatic plates. Medium. CRITERION Spec. E.R., Iso E.R. GEVAERT Special Rapid. ILFORD Commercial Ortho, film Screened Chromatic plate. Ordinary. BARNET Ordinary and Rapid Pan. Process plates. CRITERION E.R. and Ordinary. GEVAERT Ordinary. GRANVILLE Ordinary. ILFORD Rapid Process Pan., Ordinary, Chromatic, Infra-Red (with filter). Slow and Process. AGFA Direct Duplicate film. BARNET Process, Process Ortho., FineGrain Ordinary and Process Pan. GRANVILLE Process. ILFORD Process, Half-tone, and Fine Grain Ordinary.

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