If you are serious about learning photography, you need to ditch Auto Mode and select a metering mode. There are 3 common metering modes on a DSLR or mirrorless camera. Let’s learn the difference and when should we use each of them.

(1)  Multi-Segment / Pattern Metering Mode

Under multi-segment metering mode, your camera will divide the whole picture into many sections and calculate the average exposure number. Usually modern camera is smart enough to remove the extremely bright, like the sun, or extremely dark, like a black area, for a more precise calculation. It is the best to use this metering mode when you are doing general landscape photography or shooting street photos.

(2) Center-weighted Metering Mode

Your camera will still take the whole picture into account but 60-80% center area will have higher weighting. As a result objects in the center of the photo will have a more preferred correct exposure. You can use this metering mode when you are using portrait or when your subject is mostly in the center of the photo (e.g. group photo)

(3) Spot Metering Mode

Under Spot Metering mode, camera will only use very small area (1-5%) to do the exposure calculation. Other areas will be ignored. So the focus point area will always have the correct exposure. Spot metering mode should be used when your object and background has a significant difference of brightness, for example taking a photo of a singer under spot light in a concert. Be careful when using spot metering mode as it may result in extremely different exposure depending on your focus point.


Multi-Segment / Pattern Metering Mode

Center-weighed Metering Mode

Spot Metering Mode


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Author: Alex Tam