Metering system

To learn photography seriously, we should give up the use of Auto-mode, so we need to manually adjust the metering system in the camera. There are three most popular metering modes at this stage: Multi-Segment / Pattern, Center-weighted, and Spot. Do you know their usage? Let me understand the difference between these metering modes!


Matrix metering (Nikon) / Multi-Segment / Pattern (Canon)


The camera will estimate the light distribution in the framed frame, and then set the exposure combination according to artificial intelligence. In this mode, the extremely bright or dark areas (such as the sun) are usually omitted, and other areas are used as the basis for exposure. average. Current cameras also automatically make exposure compensation for extremely bright images. This mode is usually the most secure when shooting landscapes or snap shots .

Center-weighted / Center-weighted


The camera will use the amount of light in most areas of the frame to measure the light. It will focus more on about 60% -80% of the area in the middle of the frame. This mode can provide accurate exposure when shooting outdoor portraits or when the subject is in the middle of the frame .



In spot metering mode, the camera will only measure the amount of light in a very small area (about 1% -5% of the middle of the viewfinder), so it can accurately measure the correct exposure of the subject, and the metering area will be based on the selected The focus point is determined (requires lens support, otherwise the middle focus point will be used). This mode is mostly used in severe back lighting , concerts , sunrise and sunset , outdoor portrait shooting or environments that require special subjects .

See the effect of using spot metering:

Array metering

Array metering

Spot metering on trees

Spot metering on trees

Spot metering on grass

Spot metering on grass

It can be seen from the above picture that if the subject is relatively small and requires accurate exposure, we can use spot metering.

In Conclusion

Different metering modes in different environments are just for photographers to get the approximate exposure, and the camera’s metering system will also be affected by the external environment (such as snow, black clothes) and errors, so many times we also need to make Manual exposure compensation (refer to the article Using exposure compensation to easily fine-tune the light and dark of a photo ). Photography is an art, and there is no “absolutely correct” exposure, so you can use the above metering modes to test in different environments and see what effect it will have. Try and practice, and one day you will find the usefulness of each metering mode!

Photo credit: Olympus Digital School , Josh

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Author: Alex Tam