Metering Modes In Cameras

Article by- Chinar Tekchandani & Apurv Jadhav

Metering is an electronic mechanism of the camera that is used to measure the brightness of an image. The camera sets the shutter speed and aperture setting required to make an appropriate exposure.

Exposure is one of the crucial elements of an image. The right kind of exposure can make an image attractive, the lack or excess of it can make the same image lose its quality. This is exactly why one should understand metering and its types. This will not only help the photographer create a beautiful image but also appeal to the viewer’s eye.

In the olden days, metering was something that had to be done manually. A photographer would have to use a light meter to measure the scene and then set the aperture and the shutter speed. Thanks to the advances in technology, most cameras today have built-in light meters. Let’s understand the different camera metering modes that will help you set the correct exposure depending on the distribution of light. It will also help you understand which mode to use when.

1. Evaluative or matrix metering mode:

In evaluative metering, the camera divides the entire scene into different zones and calculates the intensity of light in each one of them. The final exposure is an average of these intensities. This mode is usually a default mode for most cameras.

This mode is useful for capturing evenly lit scenes. It is preferred for wide-angled and landscape photography.

2. Center weighted metering mode:

This mode places more importance on the illumination in the centre of the frame. The exposure of the central area is calculated and displayed on the metering scale. The size of the central portion can vary in different cameras. However, it can cover anything up to 75% of the frame.

This mode is preferred when the subject is in the centre of the frame. It provides more light on the subject than at the edges. This mode can be used for complex lighting situations contrary to the matrix metering mode.

3. Spot metering mode:

As the name signifies, it exposes a very small area of the frame. The area can be between 3-5% however that can be relative. Exposure from a very restricted area of the focal point is considered and displayed on the metering scale.

This mode is used when the subject is not in the center of the scene or is very small. This mode can be used in very complex lighting situations where the subject is relatively smaller.

4. Partial metering mode: (only for canon)

Partial metering mode is alternative to spot metering. It enables you to analyze a reading from a small area around the centre of the frame between 6.2-10%  of the total area depending on the camera. Its slightly larger area than that used by spot metering which makes it easier to use.

This mode is used when the subject is overly backlit and you want to get a fairly good exposure of the subject. It will help you expose the subject properly although tht background is overexposed.

To understand these modes in the best possible way, try them out in similar and different images to notice the difference and understand what looks best under different illuminations.

5 thoughts on “Metering Modes In Cameras”

  • Zubida Khatoon 3 years ago June 8, 2021

    Sounds great. There is another metering mode to ask the camera to change the exposure metering, without changing the metering mode. This is called exposure compensation. It’s a barbaric word, but it’s basically pretty simple. It is a technique mainly used in aperture priority mode (AV/A) and shutter speed (Tv/S), and not in manual mode (because you can choose whatever you want as settings…).

    REPLY →
    • Admin
      Admin 3 years ago June 9, 2021

      Thank you for your comment!
      Technically exposure compensation is NOT a metering mode, rather it is a feature for correcting the exposure while shooting a black or white subject.
      Our cameras tend to expose the image to get maximum gray tones. If the subject is black/white then the camera gets confused thinking it is underexposed/overexposed which results in imperfect exposure. We hope you find this article helpful.

      REPLY →
  • Hashimoto 3 years ago June 26, 2021

    So useful and informative blog here you have shared. Liked and applaud this blog.

    REPLY →
    • Admin
      Admin 3 years ago June 28, 2021

      Thank you ! We’re glad you find it useful !!

      REPLY →
  • Alvin 3 years ago January 15, 2022

    Insightful post about metering modes in camera.
    You’ve explained different types of metering modes which are really very helpful to impart extra impression to picture. Among them spot metering mode I often use to highlight a specific pint.

    REPLY →

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