· ·

3 Metering Modes in Photography: What they do, how to use them properly

Light metering is a fundamental part of any photography. You might not know exactly what it does, but you’re aware that your camera needs to measure the light in order to determine exposure and capture an image. However, you may be surprised by how many different metering modes are available for use with various situations! In this article, we’ll be discussing the three main metering modes in photography: what they do, how to use them!

However if you don’t understand how light works in photography I highly recommend you check out the lighting basics guide first.

What is light metering?

Light metering is the process of measuring different aspects of a scene to determine how much light there is, and then reporting this information back to your camera’s meter. This data helps guide decisions about exposure levels, including shutter speed and aperture size.

Canon MeterCanon Meternikon-viewfinder-meterNikon Meter

How does your camera determine exposure?

Most cameras have a built-in light meter. It’s this metering system that helps your camera determine the exposure – how much of the scene will be in focus, what ISO and aperture settings to use, etc.There are two types of metering readings: reflective and incident reading.

Reflective light metering is used when shooting subjects that have a significant amount of light reflecting off their surface, such as snow.

Incident metering is the most accurate type of light metering and it’s used to measure conditions where there are very few reflective surfaces nearby, like photographing people indoors or in darker situations.

Why Should You Adjust the Metering?

You may have noticed that sometimes when you take one photo with automatic metering on it could come out too dark or too bright; depending on certain factors like how high the contrast is between various parts of a scene (whether there are very bright areas vs darker ones) and whether or not you’re shooting into direct sunlight. This can happen because different metering modes evaluate scenes differently! For instance: evaluative metering would give more priority to assessing highlights than spot metering which focuses

The Different Metering Modes

Light metering modes examples

Center-weighted average metering mode

Center-weighted metering is the default setting for most cameras and works well when your scene has a mix of bright and dark areas. Center-weighted average metering works on the assumption that the most important part of the image is probably central. It measures the whole scene but places extra emphasis on the light values in the middle.

Spot metering / Partial metering mode

Spot, or partial meters are best for subjects that have an average brightness and colour (e.g., outdoor scenes) because they measure only a small part of the entire scene, such as a person against a bright background (back lighting)or an object with strong colours.

When to use partial or spot metering mode

Partial meter reading is best if you’re shooting something with both shadows and highlights — like someone standing in front of a window; Spot meter readings work well when you want to focus on one specific point that stands apart from its surroundings–such as someone’s face against a bright background or an product with strong colours.

Evaluative metering mode (aka matrix metering/ Averaging meter reading)

All cameras use what’s called an “evaluative” light meter reading which takes into account all brightness levels within the frame to set an appropriate exposure level for you. This is usually reliable since it takes care of the entire scene in front of you; however, this can be less effective if there are certain areas with too much contrast (dark shadows vs bright highlights). This setting when you want to base the exposure on what the camera sees in the viewfinder.

When to use average metering (aka evaluative metering)

Average metering is best suited for general photography in all kinds of lighting conditions because it reads everything in the frame and adjusts accordingly so that both highlights and shadows are reproduced correctly. This makes it ideal if you don’t know what type of lighting will be present or want pictures with good contrast between light and shadow areas. It’s also typically more accurate than spot meters.

Problems With Meters

Simply put: Metering is not always accurate.Internal light meters are built into most modern cameras and they work with an algorithm (mathematical formula) based on what metering mode your camera has set as default. At the end of the day it’s still a computer trying to access the scene. It’s up to you to choose whether it got it right or not and change it accordingly.

How to Change Camera Metering Modes

The metering mode can be changed by pressing the buttons on your camera, or it might change automatically depending on where you are in a scene and what part of the frame your focus point rests over. You’ll find that there’s no one best metering mode to use for every situation because it’s all about what you’re trying to achieve with your image.

External Light Meter

An external light meter is a device that measures the amount of light, or luminous flux. This information can be used to determine exposure settings for photographic film and digital sensors.The most common form of an external light meter in use today is probably the hand-held incident metering instrument which consists of two components: The measuring head (sometimes called a “sensitometer”) into which one places either a reflective object such as a white card or matte grey surface; or an integrating sphere through which diffuse illumination falls onto semiconductor detector arrays unable to detect specular reflections from nonmetallic surfaces so long as they are not very bright.The biggest advantage of using an external light meter is that it will you the best camera settings.The biggest disadvantage is that you need to be able to get the light meter to your subject.

How to to use an external light meter?

  • Make sure you iso matches.
  • Hold the meter steady next to your subject pointing your camera for a few seconds to get an average exposure reading. like ss 1/500 at f4.5 so that know exactly which settings to use.
  • If you tweek one setting like your aperture, then move the other.

We hope that this post helped you better understand the metering modes in your camera and how to best utilise them. Remember, there is not one mode for every situation so we recommend trying out a few different ones until you find the right fit for your needs. This way, when it comes time to shoot photos at an important event or create professional images of products online, you will be armed with all of the knowledge necessary to capture memorable moments without compromising on quality! Feel free to save this blog post as a reference later on if needed. Good luck shooting!

Light metering examples (matrix metering, centre weighted metering, highlight metering and spot metering)

Similar Posts