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Camera Metering Modes Explained

Camera Metering Modes Explained 

Finding the ideal exposure is one of the first things that photographers learn. Metering is a process in digital photography that works out what the correct exposure should be.

The camera uses the so-called metering sensor which is a device located inside the camera. It measures the brightness of the subject and adjusts the metering accordingly.

Some people use a light meter to calculate the appropriate settings. In this article, I will show you how to take pictures without the light meter.

Why Should You Adjust the Metering?

The camera can’t change the exposure of separate parts of the photo. This is why it needs to figure out an exposure that works for the whole picture. Many photographers encounter problems with it when taking images of high contrast subjects.

Let’s take landscape photography as an example. During sunset, you would usually focus on the beautiful sky with your camera. The problem is it can result in the landscape and other parts of the photo being too dark, such as on the picture below. To avoid this, you need to adjust the metering according to the subject.

The default metering mode of the camera is matrix/evaluative metering. To switch between the modes all you have to do is to press the metering mode button on the camera and use the main command dial. You will see how the modes change on the camera LCD or the control panel.

It is crucial to reach a balance between shadows, highlights and mid-tones. This is what you should be aiming for when choosing a metering mode. Before taking a picture, you have to weigh the options that the different modes provide you with.

We’ll be looking at exactly what camera metering modes do and when you should be using them.

What the Different Metering Modes Are

Matrix metering is the most complex and modern way of metering a scene. It collects data from across the entire frame and even gives priority to your focus point. I prefer using this mode as it is the most reliable way of metering in most situations.

If the camera sees a bright area, such as the sun, it takes that spot into account. According to this spot, it will try to work out the best exposure settings.

When it comes to metering modes, this mode has different names. But there is no difference in the way they decide on exposure.

Partial Metering Mode

This metering mode collects data from a small circular area in the metering centre of the camera. It covers about 10-15% of the entire scene and is only found in cameras.

Partial light metering is useful when your subject is in the centre of the frame. Most likely you want the camera to prioritise the subject during exposure calculation.

There’s not a lot of difference between matrix and partial metering.

Spot Metering Mode

Here the dot in the camera centre is smaller than partial metering, meaning roughly 5% of the frame. It sets the exposure according to where your focus point is. To get the focus point right and achieve your desire results, your subject has to be still.

This is a more advanced way of working out the good exposure for your camera. This is because it involves metering for the small area of your focus point. The rest of the scene may not be correct, leaving that up to you to work out.

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