Understanding the “Metering Modes” in your camera

Now that you know your camera measures light and understand that you can influence the camera’s decisions on image brightness using “Exposure Compensation“, there is yet another way to help the camera make better exposure decisions by controlling the “Metering Mode“.

©Trevor Awalt_Metering ModesOn most cameras there are at least three (3) metering modes; evaluative or matrix, spot, and center. On more advanced cameras there is also a fourth called partial metering mode.

With evaluative or matrix metering mode, the camera evaluates the whole scene equally to determine how to set the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO resulting in an overall exposure (brightness) of the captured image. This mode would typically be used when taking landscape images.

In center metering mode, the camera will base it’s exposure decisions more on the center of the scene rather than the outer part of the of the scene which typically results in a brighter exposure verses using evaluative metering mode. This mode would typically be used when taking a portrait when the subject is slightly backlit.

With partial metering mode, the camera bases the exposure on approximately 10 percent of the center of the scene. This mode is typically used for taking portraits when the subject is directly backlit and the subject is more important than the background of the scene.

Finally spot metering mode allows the camera to determine the exposure based on the small area in the center of the scene. This mode is good for taking images of wildlife where the scene situations can be changing constantly as the subject is moving around. Again this mode is used when the subject is more important than the background.

In our next lesson we will discuss the two most important indicators on your camera that help with ensuring you have achieved a correct exposure; the highlight alert and the histogram.



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