For newbies, metering is often difficult to master. The camera has many built-in metering modes, so how do you choose the metering mode to get the effect you want? Now let me share how to use “matrix metering”! After you have learned it, you can take the effect you want without having to change the metering mode!


What is the metering mode

Most modern digital cameras have at least three metering modes:

  1. Matrix / Evaluative Metering
  2. Center-weighted Metering
  3. Spot Metering

The difference lies in the range of metering. Matrix metering will select the area of ​​the full photo to meter, spot metering will use the focus point or a very small area in the middle to meter, and the center-weighted metering will be in between.

The following are metering icons for Canon cameras:


A good partner for matrix metering: exposure compensation button (+/- EV)

When using matrix metering, the camera has a very useful feature: the exposure compensation button (+/- EV)! The exposure compensation button allows you to increase or decrease the exposure value yourself. It’s worth noting that this button is not like Photoshop, using post-production methods to make changes. Instead, you can directly increase or decrease the aperture, shutter, or ISO to achieve the exposure change, so it is more worth using than post-modification.

To use the exposure compensation button, just press the button to turn the dial, or press and then add and subtract, please read the camera manual for details!

Most cameras will also have a +/- EV exposure compensation button.

Most cameras will have a +/- EV exposure compensation button.

Tips when using matrix metering

(A) In a normal light receiving scene

In normal light-receiving environments, that is, when shooting under very bright or dark conditions, modern digital cameras are already able to meter light very accurately, try to maintain a balance between the light and dark positions of the photo, and intelligently set the aperture and shutter. And ISO values. So whether you are shooting outdoors or indoors, as long as you are not shooting under extreme light sources, you can trust the ability of matrix metering and shoot directly!

You can rely on the camera's matrix metering mode under normal light-receiving conditions.

Under normal light receiving conditions, you can rely on the camera’s matrix metering mode.

(B) In a backlit / backlit scene

When taking backlit / backlit photos, your subject will be facing away from the light source, and the lens will be facing the light source. At this time, the camera’s matrix metering will think that the photo has a lot of light (assuming your subject is not covering the entire frame), so take the photo The whole is dimmed for balance, and the subject becomes underexposed or silhouetted. At this point you must increase the exposure compensation (sometimes + 3EV sometimes) or use the flash to fill the light for the subject!

Shoot in high backlight conditions, use matrix metering to capture silhouettes.

Shoot in high backlight conditions, use matrix metering to capture silhouettes.

(3) When shooting a black / white scene

When black / white occupies a large part of the photo, matrix metering will be wrong, and the environment is considered dark / bright, resulting in wrong settings of overexposure and underexposure. Therefore, before pressing the shutter, we must-/ + EV according to experience to correct the lack of matrix metering. There is a formula that is easy to remember, you must know:

When it is dark, it is dark (-EV), when it is light, it is light (+ EV)

Explanation: If you encounter black, you need to reduce the EV, and if you encounter white, you need to increase the EV.

When the photo is full of white or black stuff, be sure to use exposure compensation to correct matrix metering errors.

When photos are full of white or black, be sure to use exposure compensation to correct matrix metering errors.

(4) When shooting portraits

Generally speaking, when taking a portrait photo, the face of the portrait should have the correct exposure, so pay special attention to the exposure. When you use matrix metering, be sure to look at the light around the person to make +/- EV compensation. Some examples:

[table class = “table-striped table-bordered” th = “0” colwidth = “30%” colalign = “left | center”]
Shunguang “, “Face has normal and sufficient light reception”, “No adjustment required EV ”
” Backlight / Backlight “,” Sketch Silhouette “,” No adjustment required, EV can be reduced if necessary ”
” Backlight / Backlight “,” Subject should be normally exposed “,” +2 to + 3EV ”
” Large light source in the composition “,” The metering has a chance to make the photo too dark “,” + EV ”
” Japanese style “,” Bright and light feeling “,” + EV ”
[/ table]

+ EV can be used for compensation when shooting backlight. (Photo by {link: https: //} Jenny Onsager {/ link})

+ EV can be used for compensation when shooting backlight.
Photo by Jenny Onsager

(5) When facing the sun / light source

When your photo contains the sun or a strong light source, unless you use a wide-angle lens and the light source only takes up a small part of the photo, the camera will reduce the exposure and make the photo darker. At this time, you may wish to restore the photo to normal exposure by +0.7 or + 1.3EV (adjusted according to the situation) before shooting.

When the front side is facing the light source, matrix metering has a chance to make mistakes, which can be corrected by + EV.

When the front is facing the light source, matrix metering may be wrong and can be corrected by + EV.

(6) When shooting night scenes

When shooting night scenes, if the photo is full of light sources (such as neon lights, Christmas lights, etc.), you need to increase the EV, otherwise the photos will be dark. If the photo content is dark, you need to reduce the EV to prevent the black areas from being overexposed and turning gray.

Of course, the matrix metering at this time is just a reference, it is best to use the manual mode to fully grasp the exposure value!


The author is a heavy user of matrix metering. Basically, matrix metering can allow me to take photos with normal exposure except when shooting concerts or shooting in manual mode. Therefore, as long as I understand the use of matrix metering in different environments Method, you can avoid the trouble of changing the metering mode!

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Author: Alex Tam