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Night Exposure Guide

Perhaps the trickiest time to take pictures is at night. A typical night-time scene contains dazzling highlights in a sea of darkness, providing the perfect ingredients to confuse your camera's metering system. Metering tends to be something of a lottery as any indicated exposures may also need to be increased due to Reciprocity Law Failure.

To give a rough idea of the exposures you should expect, refer to the guide below and bracket your exposures.

Situation ISO 25 ISO 50 ISO 100 ISO200 ISO 400
Holiday lights 2s f/2.8 2s f/4 1s f/4 1s f5.6 1/2s f5.6
Bright streets 1/8s f/2 1/15s f/2 1/15s f/2.8 1/30s f/2.8 1/30s f/4
Neon signs 1/15s f2.8 1/15s f/4 1/30s f/4 1/60s f/4 1/60s f/5.6
Shop Windows 1/8s f/2.8 1/5s f/2.8 1/30s f/2.8 1/30s f/4 1/60s f/4
Floodlit Buildings 1s f/2 1s f/2.8 1s f/4 1/2s f/4 1/4s f/4
Street lit subjects 1s f/2 1/2s f/2 1/4s f/2 1/8s f/2 1/15s f/2
Bonfires 1/8s f/2.8 1/15s f/2.8 1/30s f/2.8 1/30s f/4 1/60s f/4
Kids by Bonfire 1/2s f/2 1/4s f/2 1/8s f/2 1/15s f/2 1/30s f/2
Fairs 1/4s f/2 1/8s f/2 1/15s f/2 1/30s f/2 1/30s f/2.8
Fairs: light patterns 8s f/22 8s f/16 4s f/16 2s f/16 1s f/16
Fireworks - ground 1/15s f/2 1/30s f/2 1/30s f/2.8 1/30s f/4 1/60s f/4
Fireworks - aerial Bulb f/4 Bulb f/5.6 Bulb f/8 Bulb f/11 Bulb f/16
Lightning Bulb f/2.8 Bulb f/4 Bulb f/5.6 Bulb f/8 Bulb f/11
Traffic patterns 20s f/8 20s f/11 20s f/16 20s f/22 10s f/22
Open air concert 1/15s f/2 1/15s f/2.8 1/30s f/2.8 1/60 f/2.8 1/125s f/2.8