The ABCs of Metering Mode

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One of the most important settings on your camera is the metering mode. It allows your camera to determine how it will expose the image, or what part of the image will be considered the most important in controlling the exposure. There are three main modes: matrix, center-weighted and spot. Matrix is the default setting on most cameras, and it is a relatively intelligent mode that evaluates different parts of the frame and uses them to determine exposure. Center-weighted is also a common mode, where the central portion of the frame is used to determine exposure. Spot mode is usually used for landscape photography, where you want to control which part of the scene is properly exposed. Let’s take a look at when you would use each one:

Matrix Metering Mode

Matrix metering mode can be used in a variety of situations; it will determine an average brightness value and then attempt to expose for that middle value. This works well in most situations, but can sometimes overexpose an image if there are very bright areas next to very dark areas (i.e., a snow covered mountain against a dark sky).

Center-Weighted Metering Mode

Center-weighted metering mode was made for photographers who want more control over what’s considered “important”

A photographer needs to understand camera settings, and that includes knowing which metering mode is the best to use in different situations.

Metering modes are the way a camera determines exposure, based on the area being analyzed. There are three major modes:

Matrix Metering – Some cameras will also have a fourth, “evaluative” mode, which is a combination of matrix and center-weighted. In matrix metering, the camera analyzes the scene and divides it into multiple zones. It then compares this information against a database of thousands of images of similar scenes and uses this to determine the appropriate exposure. This is why it is called “intelligent” metering because it can adapt to various types of lighting and scenes.

Center-Weighted Metering – Center-weighted metering bases its calculations on an 8mm circle in the center of the viewfinder. If you are shooting at an angle, or your subject’s position isn’t centered in your viewfinder, then this may not be as accurate as desired.

Spot Metering – Spot metering bases its calculations on only a 2mm circle in the center of the viewfinder. This can be very accurate if you want to ensure that one specific part of your image (such as your subject

The easiest way to get a good exposure reading is to meter the light on either side of you. If you’re taking a photo of a person, meter their face. If you’re taking landscape, meter the sky. If you want to get creative, use your spot metering mode and try to expose for something that will be in focus (or at least not too much out of focus).

The general rule with exposure is to make sure subjects are not too dark or too bright. On most cameras, if your subject is properly exposed, then the background will be too bright or too dark. This can be remedied by using your camera’s “exposure compensation” feature, but then your subject may be too bright or too dark.

A good way to avoid this problem is to concentrate on your subject and make sure they’re properly exposed, and let the background fall into place as it may.

We took these sample photos with our Fuji Finepix S200EXR; this camera has multiple metering modes—matrix, center-weighted and spot—and they all work differently. We’ve put up samples of each photo below this paragraph.

The first sample picture was taken using the camera’s matrix metering mode (the default setting). The

The most popular metering mode for auto-exposure is evaluative, also known as matrix metering. The camera divides the scene into zones and measures the light in each zone. Then it decides on an exposure that will keep the whole scene within a given range of brightness, with a bias toward the brighter areas. In many cases, this works very well.

The other option is spot metering. Here, you choose a part of the scene to measure (in 1/3 stop increments) and set your exposure so that this part of the scene has a certain brightness level. This is often used to get good results when photographing portraits outdoors in bright sunlight: you meter on the face and set your exposure so that the face is at an appropriate brightness level.

Another option is center-weighted metering: here, you choose what part of the frame to measure (a circular area in the middle), and then use that measurement to determine your exposure.

You may have noticed that these modes are not mutually exclusive; you can have any two of them together (for example, spot metering with center-weighted metering.) However, in practice, there are reasons not to do this: if you are using spot metering and center-weight

Here’s a quick, straightforward guide to the three metering modes that you’ll find on most compact digital cameras.

(If you’re wondering what the heck I’m talking about, you should check out my previous post on aperture, shutter speed, and ISO.)

Matrix Metering. This is the default mode on most cameras, and it’s pretty darned good. The camera takes a reading of the entire frame, and if there are very bright areas in the frame (e.g., snow in front of a dark forest), it will boost the exposure a bit so that those bright areas don’t blow out. However, this also means that if you’re taking a photo of your subject against a dark background (e.g., a person standing in front of a dark wall) then their face will be underexposed.

(That’s why I always switch to spot metering when I’m taking pictures indoors or of people.)

Center-Weighted Metering. In this mode, the camera takes an average reading from the entire frame… but puts more weight on the center than on the edges. So if your subject is standing against a bright background (e.g., a sunny day at the beach) then they’ll end up well-exp

The center-weighted metering mode is one of the most commonly used metering modes by photographers. It takes an 18% gray card and compares it to the rest of the scene to measure the light in an image.

TTL (Through The Lens) metering is used with DSLR cameras. The light reaches the sensor (or film plane) through the lens, and this method is called TTL. 

This method was designed for photographing scenes where you don’t have control over lighting. Overexposure and underexposure are usually not a problem in these kinds of scenes, because it is possible to correct them in post-processing software like Photoshop or Lightroom.

The Matrix Metering mode is based on a number of different zones, which are divided into three zones: 0-20%, 20-80% and over 80%. Each zone has its own weight to determine the correct exposure for your image. The camera will take a reading from all three zones, average them out and set your exposure accordingly. This metering mode works best when you have more control over the lighting in a scene than you do with center-weighted metering. 

The Spot Metering Mode measures only one area in the center of your viewfinder.

Art photography is a term that has been used to define a particular genre of photography, or has been used to describe a particular attitude.

The Art Photography Movement was a movement of photographers who were interested in the idea of the documentary, but were looking for more creative ways to present the images. The goal and technique was to create a more personal style and sometimes referred to as Pictorialism. The idea of showing the “truth” in an image was not as important as creating an aesthetically pleasing image. This movement began at the end of 19th century and lasted through WWII.

These photographers believed that photography should be considered an art form rather than simply a recording medium. They rejected the strict rules and conventions that had been created by photographers before them.

The Art Photography Movement started with Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946) who published Camera Work magazine from 1903-1917.

He had a gallery in New York called “291” where he showed his own work and the work of other artists like Edward Steichen (1879-1973), Edward Weston (1886-1958), Paul Strand (1890-1976) and others.

Many of these photographers created images with soft focus and blur, they would use techniques like hand

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