Evaluating metering modes

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A metering mode is the method in which the camera light meter determines the correct exposure. You can generally choose between multi-zone, partial, spot or centre-weighted metering modes. The difference between multi-zone and the rest is that with this setting the camera uses its brain. Multi-zone is also referred to as matrix, evaluative, honeycomb or segment metering.

Beginner tip

Your camera will be set to multi-zone as a default. Keep it there.

Pro tip

There are different ways of applying metering modes in difficult lighting conditions. Some photographers use spot or partial metering in these situations, which is the most accurate way of determining optimum exposure. We, however, prefer to keep our cameras on multi-zone metering, trying to predict what mistake the metering system will make under the particular shooting situation, and using the exposure compensation dial to correct the mistake. To change the settings to spot metering and then change them back again, takes much longer than to change the exposure compensation and bracket the exposure.

Auto Exposure Lock (AEL) tip

Most cameras have the option of locking the auto exposure. Under challenging lighting conditions, you can choose to lock the exposure on something else in the area that has the same light intensity as the subject and the exposure will not change when you aim your lens at the subject again.

How you can take a similar image

Lens: Medium telephoto lens.

Settings: Medium aperture. Low ISO.

How: If you use the centre-weighted metering mode when shooting an image with the sun as part of the image, the image will be underexposed as the sun will fool the metering system. But if you use multi-zone metering, the camera will recognize the area of intense brightness and ignore it when determining the exposure.

 

Last modified: August 3, 2016

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