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Metering modes

From: Photography 101

Video: Metering modes

All DSLRs have a variety of metering modes. They also all have a particular mode that's their most advanced, usually called Matrix or Evaluative or Multi-Spot. Something like that. What this mode does is it takes a metering from a variety of scenes inside of the view that you're looking at. So for example, if this is my frame. It might look at a couple different scenes or it might look at 10, or 20 or 30 or even more different scenes or different zones within that particular frame. And it will then do a very intelligent average of it.

Metering modes

All DSLRs have a variety of metering modes. They also all have a particular mode that's their most advanced, usually called Matrix or Evaluative or Multi-Spot. Something like that. What this mode does is it takes a metering from a variety of scenes inside of the view that you're looking at. So for example, if this is my frame. It might look at a couple different scenes or it might look at 10, or 20 or 30 or even more different scenes or different zones within that particular frame. And it will then do a very intelligent average of it.

It will not just average them, but'll actually look for things like spotlights, or really dark shadows. That aren't part of the overall scene as a whole, and kind of remove those from the equation. And do a, generally, really good job of metering for your shot. For most uses, you can just leave the camera in that mode, and you're going to be happy, probably 99 percent of the time. However, there are times where you want to get out of that mode, and get into something a little bit more advanced. There's a variety of modes on these cameras, and it really just depends on the model that you own. I'm just going to cover a couple of the most common, or a least the most useful modes that you might find.

Outside of that Matrix mode or Overall Evaluative mode there's something called Center Weighting. Which is going to put the predominant metering into the center of the scene usually about 60% and then its going to put the rest of it for the whole outer area. This is great if your shooting something like a portrait. Where your putting the portrait right in the middle of the frame at least for the metering part. And then the rest of the scene is included, but not included quite as much in the metering. The single most advanced one though that you'll find is something called Spot Metering. What this will do is it will take the metering off of a tiny, tiny, tiny little point in the middle of the frame. Or, on the really advanced cameras, it will actually take the metering off of whatever the focus point is.

So if you manually move your focus point, the meter will be taken off of that, and this is really good in extreme lighting situations. Let's say you're shooting a concert, and you have an overall really dark scene. Then a couple of bright spot lights, and then of course your subject, the singer that you're trying to photograph. If you put the Spot Meter right on them, right on their face, it's going to meter perfectly for them. Doesn't matter what the rest of the scene is whether its bright or dark or anything else. It will always meter perfectly for that point and that's what Spot Metering will do for you. So let's take a look at how to switch through these modes on a variety of different camera models.

What your looking for is an icon that looks like this. You'll typically find a box with a circle and maybe some kind of a curved lines around the circle. That's pretty much the common icon or some variation of that. You'll find on a camera to Switch Metering modes. So in this case, when I push that button and then rotate the finger dial here, you'll see that switches between the various modes. The mode that has the most illustration on it, in this case the dot and then the two half-circles around it, that's your most Advanced Metering mode. As you continue to switch through these, you'll find a mode like this and that's going to be your Center Rated mode.

On this particular camera, the spot in the middle means that it's a Spot mode. And if it has no icons at all, that's an Overall Average mode. Let's take a look at another camera body. On the Nikon, it's really clear. Right up here on top, there's this big button that has this kind of Matrix look to it. So if I push that button I can then rotate the dial to change the mode. So again we go from Matrix, to Spot, Center Weighted, and then back to the Matrix again. On the Sony once again we're looking for the Function button.

So just push the function button and then flip through the various modes in here until you find your metering mode. Select that and here you can choose Multi Segment, Center Weighted or Spot. So, it really depends on what camera model you have to see which modes you're going to find in there. Some models have three or four modes, some have even more, some have less. So check yours out, and if you have a hard time figuring out what those icons mean, you might want to check in the manual for that one.

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Photography 101

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Joseph Linaschke
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