Understanding The 3 Primary Metering Modes

Understanding The 3 Primary Metering Modes | Photography 101

Understanding The 3 Primary Metering Modes

The guys at SLR Lounge have created a very concise guide to understanding and using the three most common metering modes: Spot, Average and Matrix (they may be called something else on your camera).

For simple scenes, Matrix or Average metering will suffice, especially if you’re auto-bracketing. However, a very useful technique to manually bracket is to switch to spot metering and shift the spot onto an area you wish to expose for.

Then, when you’re finished, simply select another spot in the scene which was over or under exposed in the last exposure and expose for that by shifting the spot onto that. That way we can ensure that we have correctly exposed for areas of extreme light in our scene.

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Understanding The 3 Primary Metering Modes

6 thoughts on “Understanding The 3 Primary Metering Modes

  1. This video suggests absolutely apposite what I have been reading and seeing about metering modes from renown photographers around the world. A far as I remember about 95% of professional photographers use only Evaluative metering mode (for Canon DSLR) as the really commonly acceptable for an accurate image exposure. The only time I use spot metering when I use auto exposure lock by pressing the back * button.

    1. Thanks for the comment Michael. I regularly use spot metering in both my landscapes and cityscapes. This allows me to manually bracket by choosing a location on which to expose for. And many of the photogs with whom I shoot, also do the same – not all the time, but reasonably often, so I’m not sure about 95% using EM. But, of course, it all depends on the photog.

      1. Well, if you are going to heavily edit your bracketed images in PS, I would agree with you but most hobbyist photographers like me don’t do that very often as we mostly use Adobe LR for some light editing of our photos. I still prefer using Evaluative metering mode as it has been scientifically designed in our modern DSLRs for the best optimum exposure. By the way, thank you very much for your PS very helpful tips.

      2. Jimmy, Id like to learn how do you shoot. Where to meter and how to bracket. Do you have a tutorial?

      3. Hi Jimmy, when the camera is locked off on a tripod I often use a hand held meter. I have an old Minolya IV with a spot meter attachment which is great for evaluating a scene and no need to move the camera around to meter different araes. (Seconic do a couple of versions too).
        ps. Raya Pro is fast becoming a major part of my PS workflow!

  2. I found it somewhat unusual, in the presentation, as well, but I do use spot, averaging, and evaluative for different scenarios myself. With a mirrorless system that I use, I find the trick to use spot metering on different parts of a complex landscape less needed as there are other features in the EVF such as a histogram and over/under exposed area indicators that clue me in more quickly, so I rarely use spot metering any more with landscapes when I’m in manual mode and can adjust the settings while seeing in the viewfinder what the impact is likely to be, however I used spot metering quite often with an optical viewfinder camera. I still use spot with difficult portraiture lighting situations and I use center-weighted by default on action/birds in flight settings. My camera presets for landscape use evaluative by default but I am also aware of problem situations and usually compensate easily with the bias exposure dial. I think that the more we understand our gear, the options, and how our particular cameras respond in a variety of situations, the better we can adapt our in-camera configurations to get the results closest to what will please us.

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