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Exploring metering modes

From: Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III

Video: Exploring metering modes

Accurate metering is critical to getting good results from your camera. Fortunately, metering technology is now so good that your camera should yield correct exposure 80 to 90% of the time. To help ensure that your metering results are good, your camera offers several different metering modes. Your Mark III shows the current metering mode right here. This icon will change as you change metering modes. The default, and the mode that's currently being shown by this icon, is evaluative metering. In evaluative metering, your image is divided into a grid. Each cell of the grid is metered, and a bunch of complex calculations are performed based on all of those different bits of information to come up with a good overall metering for your scene.

Exploring metering modes

Accurate metering is critical to getting good results from your camera. Fortunately, metering technology is now so good that your camera should yield correct exposure 80 to 90% of the time. To help ensure that your metering results are good, your camera offers several different metering modes. Your Mark III shows the current metering mode right here. This icon will change as you change metering modes. The default, and the mode that's currently being shown by this icon, is evaluative metering. In evaluative metering, your image is divided into a grid. Each cell of the grid is metered, and a bunch of complex calculations are performed based on all of those different bits of information to come up with a good overall metering for your scene.

Evaluative metering is probably where you'll stay most of the time, but you do have three other metering modes. To change them, press the metering/white balance button, and it's pretty easy to remember this, because this icon corresponds to your meter down here. Press this, and then turn the main dial. Your next mode is partial metering. This meters just an area in the middle of the frame. It's an area that comprises 6.2% of the viewfinder, according to the Canon manual, and your metering is simply derived from the brightness of that circle in the middle of the frame.

Next comes spot metering, which is shown by this icon. This is a lot like partial metering, except it's a much smaller circle that it's metering; it's only 1.5% out of the center of the viewfinder. Finally there is one more metering mode, and that is center-weight average metering, which looks like this. This is similar to spot metering, and partial metering, but it's a wider area out of the center, and Canon doesn't say how wide it is. Personally, I have never found a use for center-weight average metering.

In theory, what it's good for is heavily backlit situation, but spot and partial are also good for those, so I tend to think of this as the extra, kind of useless metering mode on the camera. You'll probably find that spot metering and partial metering are going to be the alternate meters that you use the most. I've been shooting with Canon cameras for years, through lots of different models, that have all used the same icons, and I tell you, I never can remember what they are; I always get confused, because they're really just variations on the same thing.

This, to me, doesn't look anything like a matrix metering situation like the camera defaults to. So, a couple of recommendations for that. You can pull a PDF of the Mark III manual off the Canon Web site. Do that, and print out page 167. There's a very simple, tiny little chart that shows all of your different metering options, and their icons. Cut that out, and tape it to the inside of one of your lens caps. Then you'll always have it with you. Or just take the PDF, and stick it on your smart phone if you have one. That's another way of getting access to this information, because I very often get confused about what these are, so it's nice to have a key with me.

For most of the scenes you'll ever shoot, evaluative metering will work fine. In fact, you may find that you never change metering from evaluative. Partial, spot, and center-weight give you options for handling higher dynamic range situations, such as shooting someone in front of the window, or any place where you've got more dynamic range than your camera can handle, and you want to be sure that a particular thing in your scene is properly exposed. This is another thing that's covered in detail in my Foundations of Photography: Exposure course.

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This video is part of

Image for Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III
Shooting with the Canon 5D Mark III

108 video lessons · 21422 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 10m 29s
    1. Welcome
      2m 16s
    2. What is an SLR?
      5m 28s
    3. A note for 5D Mark II users
      50s
    4. Using this course
      1m 55s
  2. 35m 44s
    1. Exploring basic camera anatomy
      5m 28s
    2. Attaching a lens to your camera
      4m 3s
    3. Examining batteries and media cards
      8m 35s
    4. Powering up
      1m 49s
    5. Exploring the menu system
      2m 53s
    6. Clearing all settings
      2m 5s
    7. Setting the date and time
      1m 55s
    8. Setting the language
      1m 42s
    9. Formatting the media card
      3m 4s
    10. Holding the camera
      4m 10s
  3. 25m 6s
    1. Setting Scene Intelligent Auto mode
      1m 28s
    2. Exploring the viewfinder display
      5m 51s
    3. Touring the LCD screen and the status display
      2m 22s
    4. Exploring the top-mounted control buttons
      1m 42s
    5. Autofocus basics
      5m 7s
    6. Metering basics
      1m 42s
    7. Reviewing images
      2m 59s
    8. Working with image playback
      3m 55s
  4. 39m 32s
    1. Exploring Program mode
      41s
    2. Working with exposure compensation
      5m 2s
    3. Using the lock switch
      1m 21s
    4. Revisiting metering
      1m 43s
    5. Changing the ISO
      2m 14s
    6. Looking at ISO speed settings
      4m 36s
    7. Exploring long exposure noise reduction
      2m 53s
    8. Exploring high ISO noise reduction
      1m 40s
    9. Using program shift
      2m 11s
    10. Exploring image format and size
      3m 59s
    11. Using the Info button
      2m 4s
    12. Examining level and grid display
      3m 45s
    13. Using the Quick Control screen
      1m 35s
    14. Setting the color space
      1m 25s
    15. Configuring multiple media cards
      3m 24s
    16. Using the feature guide
      59s
  5. 23m 15s
    1. Exploring focus modes
      2m 25s
    2. Selecting autofocus areas
      3m 54s
    3. Exploring other autofocus options
      3m 44s
    4. Customizing servo auto focus
      4m 49s
    5. Exploring autofocus custom functions
      4m 50s
    6. Using manual focus
      3m 33s
  6. 10m 31s
    1. Using auto white balance
      1m 48s
    2. Exploring white balance presets
      3m 7s
    3. Using manual white balance
      5m 36s
  7. 10m 47s
    1. Exploring Drive mode
      4m 52s
    2. Using the self-timer
      3m 38s
    3. Using remote controls
      2m 17s
  8. 52m 26s
    1. Exploring metering modes
      3m 26s
    2. Using exposure lock
      1m 22s
    3. Working with focus points and metering
      3m 47s
    4. Exploring Aperture Priority mode
      3m 0s
    5. Using the depth of field preview button
      2m 40s
    6. Using Shutter Priority mode
      3m 26s
    7. Using Manual mode
      3m 27s
    8. Using auto exposure bracketing
      6m 3s
    9. Exploring Bulb mode
      2m 34s
    10. Working with the Auto Lighting Optimizer
      1m 40s
    11. Correcting lens aberration
      2m 46s
    12. Exploring Highlight Tone Priority
      2m 25s
    13. Understanding high-dynamic range (HDR)
      7m 5s
    14. Creating multiple exposures
      6m 25s
    15. Using the mirror lockup feature
      2m 20s
  9. 27m 38s
    1. Modifying LCD brightness
      3m 27s
    2. Rotating images
      2m 36s
    3. Using the playback grid
      42s
    4. Enabling AF point display
      1m 18s
    5. Rating images
      3m 4s
    6. Protecting and deleting images
      4m 40s
    7. Using Quick Control during playback
      1m 17s
    8. Exploring file numbering options
      2m 43s
    9. Creating folders
      1m 10s
    10. Changing file names
      3m 12s
    11. Adding copyright information
      3m 29s
  10. 7m 57s
    1. Defining picture styles
      2m 0s
    2. Exploring predefined picture styles
      2m 1s
    3. Adjusting predefined picture styles
      1m 56s
    4. Working with the monochromatic picture style
      2m 0s
  11. 22m 28s
    1. Activating Live View
      7m 16s
    2. Focusing in Live View
      5m 32s
    3. Focus manually in Live View
      1m 25s
    4. Working with aspect ratio
      2m 33s
    5. Exploring other Live View options
      3m 36s
    6. Reviewing the drawbacks to using Live View
      2m 6s
  12. 12m 16s
    1. Shooting video in Auto and Program modes
      6m 39s
    2. Shooting video in Priority or Manual modes
      3m 35s
    3. Exploring movie playback
      2m 2s
  13. 13m 0s
    1. Exploring custom modes
      5m 38s
    2. Using the custom menu
      2m 56s
    3. Exploring custom controls
      4m 26s
  14. 8m 57s
    1. What are custom functions?
      35s
    2. Working with exposure level increments
      1m 34s
    3. Bracketing auto cancel
      53s
    4. Changing the number of bracketed shots
      1m 5s
    5. Changing ISO speed setting increments
      1m 34s
    6. Exploring the Live View shooting area display
      40s
    7. Enabling safety shift
      2m 6s
    8. Clearing all custom functions
      30s
  15. 8m 16s
    1. Camera and sensor cleaning
      3m 12s
    2. Using the Battery Info command
      1m 45s
    3. Looking at operating conditions and temperatures
      2m 3s
    4. Getting firmware updates
      1m 16s
  16. 15m 10s
    1. Exploring focus and composition
      5m 31s
    2. Using an exposure strategy
      5m 11s
    3. Controlling exposure through Program mode
      4m 28s
  17. 23s
    1. Goodbye
      23s

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