ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Digital Camera Metering Modes

Updated on January 16, 2015

Metering samples

Used by permission
Used by permission | Source

Matrix metering

CC BY 2.0 Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link
CC BY 2.0 Digitally edited to comply with TOS. You may see original by following link | Source

"In photography, the metering mode refers to the way in which a camera determines the exposure.

Cameras generally allow the user to select between spot, center-weighted average, or multi-zone metering modes.

Various metering modes are provided to allow the user to select the most appropriate one for use in a variety of lighting conditions." Wikipedia

Canon metering mode icons. 1 - center weighted; 2 - spot metering; 3 - partial metering; 4 - matrix (evaluative) metering

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Metering modes explained

Not many photographers pay attention to their camera's metering modes but they should.

Each metering mode is slightly different from the rest and if you understand each, you can make a good picture a better one.

Remember that each metering mode was designed with one main scene in mind . If metering modes were not important then all camera manufacturers would simply just use one and move on.

The most widely used mode by professionals, in my opinion, is the spot metering.

This setting mainly focuses on the central portion of the image (the center of wherever is in the middle of the viewfinder.

The reading (the amount of light) measurement is taken from that spot and the rest of the image or light is calculated/averaged by the computer's sensor.

For a more complete control of the final image, use spot metering by keeping in mind that instead of taking several readings all over the subject, your camera’s spot meter takes one from a small area of the subject.

This does not mean that it has to be the exact center. You can take a spot meter reading from a part of the scene that you really want to be exposed accurately and manually lock this setting.

The entire image will then be "read" and exposed with this measurement as a bias.

This mode works best for difficult lighting situations like when the main light source is behind the subject and or is very strong. It's main purpose is to expose an image correctly where there is a high degree of contrast.

Bear in mind that all metering modes will use a "bias" and apply this "bias" to the rest of the image.

Next you have the matrix mode, also called honeycomb, and it is the default setting for the majority of professional and advanced DSLR (digital single lens reflex) or SLR (single lens reflex) cameras.

It takes a measurement from the center and uses it as the starting point. The rest of the image is then balanced or "feathered" out as the elements within the scene expand away from the center.

It basically divides the entire scene into zones, which are analyzed for light and dark tones. After reading and analyzing the information from all individual zones, the metering system looks at where you focused within the frame and marks it as the main zone or most important one. It works great for the vast majority of situations.

Partial metering is similar to spot metering but instead of using the exact center it uses a larger area around the center of the scene and adjusts the settings accordingly. Good for many situations when you want mode details around the main focusing point.

Center weighted metering. This mode measures the entire area which makes up the scene but gives a strong bias to whatever element is the one that comprises the center of the photo.

This mode is considered to be the most consistent form of metering, because most subjects are usually found in the center of a photograph. If you want to pay attention to the main subject, when you compose the shot and it is found mainly in the middle of the scene, then this is the best metering mode for you.

But remember that it works best with average lighting situations and not so much for difficult ones like high contrast compositions.

Center weighted metering is the default metering system used by the vast majority of the point and shoot cameras or where the photographer has no control over the metering modes.

Evaluative metering

CC BY-SA 4.0
CC BY-SA 4.0 | Source

Multizone metering (matrix, evaluative)

Public Domain
Public Domain | Source

Does this help you understand metering modes better?

See results

Bottom line...

Bottom line is that if you are looking for 100% of the scene to be exposed correctly (equally is a much better term to use) then the matrix mode is probably best for you.

Be mindful that if there are bright spots these will show as bright spots and may cause hot spots which have a tendency to distract the eye of the beholder or in extreme cases, to ruin an otherwise perfectly good photographic composition.

If you want the main focus point to be exposed perfectly the spot metering works best.

If you want the main focus point and some elements around the main focus point to be exposed correctly then partial metering may be your best option.

Everything depends on the scene and what you want to be exposed perfectly and what you choose to be the principle focus of the photograph as well as the light source and its strength.

There are other things that may determine what your best mode may be.

Instruct yourself and take various samples of static subjects to judge how each mode works and what best suits your style.


Spot metering

CC BY 2.0
CC BY 2.0 | Source

Partial metering

CC BY-SA 3.0
CC BY-SA 3.0 | Source

Useful video tutorial

Multi segment (evaluative,matrix) and partial

CC BY 2.0 Matrix
CC BY 2.0 Matrix | Source
CC BY-SA 3.0 Partial
CC BY-SA 3.0 Partial | Source

One more thing...

One more thing to mention and it is important to know; no matter what metering mode or camera model you choose to use in your photography, all cameras and all metering modes try to capture about a 50% brightness balance across the entire scene.

To the photographer this means that some areas will show as slightly brighter than other areas withing the composition depending on the metering zone that was used.

Although you can use any metering mode with an expectancy of achieving good results, when it comes to special situations you may end up with underexposed/overexposed as well as correctly exposed areas/elements all within the photograph.

© 2014 Luis E Gonzalez

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      teaches12345: Thank you.One day you will!!!

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 

      3 years ago

      Thanks for the education on metering modes. It is something I will keep on file for future reference. One day I hope to upgrade to a camera that features these types of options.

    • LuisEGonzalez profile imageAUTHOR

      Luis E Gonzalez 

      3 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Blackspaniel1: most SLR and DSLR cameras allow this and used ones run about $279.00 or so

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 

      3 years ago

      Interesting, but my camera is not that sophisticated.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, hubpages.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://hubpages.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)