Saturday, November 19, 2011

Camera Metering Modes

Metering is how the camera determines the exposure. It considers the amount of light the sensor receives within the frame. Using different metering modes can result to different exposure. Meaning the photos could come out either over exposed or under exposed. The important thing is to understand when to use certain metering mode, as it will allow you to control the area used to calculate for the best exposure.

Camera Metering Modes

Metering mode icons for Nikon and Canon cameras
 In the images below, the gray areas are the part of the frame where light is considered.

Multi-zone (Evaluative [Canon]/Matrix [Nikon])

This mode is the default or standard metering setting for most cameras. It considers the amount of light that the sensor receives across the entire frame, combines the results to calculate for the best exposure. Multi-zone uses various algorithms to compute for the best exposure. The most common use for this mode is when there is equal lighting across the scene – take landscape photography for example.

Multi-zone - considers light across the whole frame


Considers light at the center of the viewfinder and fades towards the edges. This mode was the standard metering settings before multi-zone metering was introduced. Some photographers still use this as their default metering mode as it is more reliable and the results can be predicted. This mode works similarly to Multi-zone metering but it focuses at the center of the frame provides, compared to multi-zone this mode covers a smaller area to be used for exposure calculation.

Center-weighted - considers light at the center of the frame and fades to the edge.


This metering covers only a small portion of the viewfinder (1 to 5%). It considers light falling at the the center focus point within the frame. Spot metering is a a good option to use if your subject is strongly contrasted against the background. Take portrait as an example, there will be conditions where there is a strong back light. Metering the face of the person prevents the subject to look like a silhouette against a bright background.

Spot - considers light at a small portion of the frame.

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