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Posts: 2
Registered: ‎04-28-2017
Accepted Solution

EF 16-35 Lens - Req. advise

[ Edited ]

I am new to the photo world and would like advise for shooting outdoor picts (sunny) with my EF 16-35 lens I just purchased.  

Any recommendations as to what aperture and ISO  you would use for Portrait shots in sunny outdoor setting...  


Thanks in advance for your help!   

Esteemed Contributor
Posts: 3,499
Registered: ‎06-11-2013

Re: EF 16-35 Lens - Req. advise

Which camera body are you using?  It makes a diffrence.


On a full-frame camera, the 16-35mm range is all wide angle.


On an APS-C camera, the "normal" focal length is around 27mm so it has both a wider-than-normal and narrower-than-normal focal length range.  


Whenever I shoot portraits in "sunny outdoors" I use a flash.  But the flash is slightly depowered.  I'll explain why.




While it may not look it, this shot above was a candid I shot during one of the historic weekend events in the area.  The actor is resting in shade.  The background is in full bright sun.


The exposure difference between the foreground and background is actually quite signfiicant (several exposure stops).  So if I were to not use a flash, then a 'correct' exposure for my subject would leave my background horribly over-exposed.  If I were to use a 'correct' exposure for the background to avoid that over-exposure problem, then my subject would be heavily under-exposed and dark.


The trick is... I don't want this to "look" like I used a flash.  That is to say... I do not want my subject (who is in full shade) to look "as bright" as the background which is in full sun.  That would look strange.   So the solution is to use the "Falsh Exposure Compensation" setting to de-power the flash by somewhere between 2/3rds and 1 full stop (so that's -2/3 to -1 FEC).  Now my subject looks like he's in shade (because he is) but he doesn't look under-exposed, nor does the background look over-exposed.  


I cannot control the brightness of the Sun, but I *can* do something about the subject in shade by adding some flash.  If I bring up the light on my subject so he's within about 1 full stop of the background, then I'll get a rather natural looking result.


This example used subject-in-shade with sunny background.  But even if my subject were in full bright sun I would STILL use the flash.  But this time it would be to reduce the intensity of shadows -- in particularly shadows in eye-sockets.  Strong bright sunlight will create severe shadows that look bad.  A slightly de-powered flash will allow those shadows to remain... but they wont look extremely dark... they'll just loook slightly dim.




You will probably use ISO 100 on bright days... but you might kick up the ISO in overcast days.


When you use flash you will not be able to shoot at shutter speeds which exceed your camera's maximum flash-sync speed (which varies by model and could be anywhere from 1/160 up to around 1/250 depending on which camera model you have) ... UNLESS you use a flash which supports "high speed sync" mode.  


This speed limit (the flash sync speed) is the fastest shutter speed that can be used which can still allow the camera to completely open the shutter, have time to let the flash fire, and then have time to completely close the shutter.  It's based on the mechanical speed of the shutter doors (often called "curtains").  


If you exceed this speed while using flash, then only a tiny slit of the sensor will be exposed when the flash fires and you'll get a bright band in your image ... while the rest is very dark.  


To get around this, the "high speed sync" mode causes the flash to pulse very rapidly as the shutter is moving.  This is timed so that each pixel will get the same amount of light.


Suppose the flash must pulse four times while the shutter is moving in high-speed sync mode... this means the flash cannot expend the energy to do a "full power" burst of light.  If it did that, the first quarter of the sensor would benefit from the light and the other 75% would be completely dark because the flash didn't have enough time to recycle.  So when high-speed sync is used, the flash has to reserve enough power to completely all the strobes as the shutter moves. 


For this reason, when you use high-speed sync, it's nice to have a really beefy flash gun with lots of power in reserve (like the Canon 600EX-RT II speedlite).  Also remember that light spreads out as it gets farther from the flash gun.   Doing high-speed-sync is much easier when shooting a nearby single subject... but may not have the power to do a large group that has to stand farther away (for these situations, Canon did design the flash system so that you can "cluster" multiple speedlites and get the sum of of their power.  


While I generally always use flash when it's a portrait shot... if I'm just shooting scenery then I generally don't use a flash.  



Tim Campbell
5D III, 5D IV, 60Da
New Contributor
Posts: 2
Registered: ‎04-28-2017

Re: EF 16-35 Lens - Req. advise

Thank you so very much for the information.  I have an EOS 7D Mark II which i understand is NOT a full frame -- Smiley Sad   

however, the info you provided is very helpful!  


Again, Thank you!  


Posts: 9,173
Registered: ‎12-07-2012

Re: EF 16-35 Lens - Req. advise

The 7D Mk II and the ef 16-35mil is a great combo.  The best way to learn it, is to use it.  It's not like the old film days where it was expensive to experiment.  Go shoot and shoot a lot.  Pointers are fine but experience is the best teacher.


Do you have a post editor?  That is where great photos are made.

A lot less stuff for 2018 but still a lot of Canon stuff. Along with, a lot of other stuff.
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