Introducing camera meter and different metering modes

Metering modes in your camera help you set the perfect exposure for the scene. Metering modes are related to the camera meter, which detects the amount of reflected light in the scene and, based on the metering mode that you’ve selected, gives you an accurate estimate of the exposure. It will tell you whether your exposure is brighter or darker, giving you an indication of what adjustment you need to make to correct the exposure. It’s pertinent to note that the light meter won’t adjust the exposure settings in any creative mode. It will merely tell you if your exposure is off and by how much.

The camera meter works under a simple setting, and that setting is 18% grey or also known as medium grey. 18% grey is a setting that’s considered when evaluating whether the scene is too bright or too dark. If you look at the metering scale of your camera, ‘0’ is where that 18% grey lays.

It’s pertinent here to understand something. Your camera meter isn’t concerned with the brightness of the colors in a scene. It only looks at the amount of reflected light, and colors don’t bother it. So, you can take all this content and use it for black-and-white photography.

Returning to the camera’s metering system and how that affects your exposure. If the scene is too bright, the camera’s metering system will figure out that it’s brighter than the medium grey it’s programmed to look at. The camera’s metering system will tell you that the scene is too bright in any creative mode and that you’re underexposed. The auto mode will automatically dial in the settings to make the exposure medium grey.

When the scene is too dark, the camera will detect it as underexposed and automatically try to push the exposure to make it medium grey in the auto mode. In the creative mode, the meter shows that the scene is underexposed.

There are several metering modes on a camera, and they’re ideally suitable for working in different situations. Each metering mode – Spot, Partial, Center-weighted, and Evaluative is designed to consider a specific part of the frame in question to ensure that the scene is exposed correctly.

Evaluative metering is where the camera considers almost the whole frame to assess the amount of light in the scene.

Center-weighted metering is where the camera pays attention to the center of the frame to assess the amount of light but also takes into account the whole scene.

Partial metering is where the center of the frame is considered to assess the amount of the scene’s light.

Finally, Spot metering is where only the center point of the frame is considered for assessing the amount of light. In some cameras, that’s the focusing point, and about 2-3% of the frame around the focusing point is considered for assessing the light value.


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