Click on a label to read posts from that part of the world.
Travel Photo Tips: What is metering, and how does it affect my pictures?
When you think about exposure in general, you think about how brightly lit or how dark an image is. We've all seen the wedding rehearsal pictures that were so underexposed that everyone looks like a silhouette, and we've all seen the sunrise shot from the beach where everything looks white -- a telltale sign of overexposure. In this guide, we'll provide you with the knowledge you need to know in order to grasp metering and how it affects the exposure (darkness / brightness) of your travel shots. And we'll also refrain from drowning you in technical knowledge that you have no time to ingest. Read on to get one step closer to mastering metering.
Be aware that these only automatically adjust when using the camera in a mode other than 'Manual.' If shooting in manual mode, you'll have full control over the metering prior to shooting each shot, so you'll need to make adjustments based on what your camera says; in other modes, the camera will determine the metering for you based on which of the below selections you have made.
Spot Metering. This is that tiny circle we referred to above. If you select this, your camera will only focus on a very small portion of a shot, which you can direct in your viewfinder. The camera will then adjust exposure for only that, and ignore the surroundings entirely. If choosing a spot that isn't an obvious focal point, you'll need to manually focus. When is this useful / not useful?
- Use spot metering if your subject is brightly backlit, and you have no real concern for the background being "blown out," or appearing white, so long as your subject is exposed properly.
- In macro shots, spot metering can be useful to get the exact exposure on the objects in the center of the frame.
- If you're attempting to photograph the moon, spot metering accurately disregards the expanse of black around the moon itself.
- If you have a landscape shot with lots of shadows, you can adjust the spot so the camera exposes for a non-shadow.
- Don't use spot metering if you have any concern at all about the entire image being exposed properly.
- For portraits -- maybe a couple on a beach, or a family at dinner -- this option works well.
- If your subject is brightly lit, but you do care about the background (a cityscape behind them, for example), give this option a whirl.
- If you find that your Matrix metering option isn't providing accurate suggestions or giving you enough control over what is focused on, this weighted option might be the ticket.
Matrix Metering takes the entire image into consideration and exposes accordingly.
- The rule of thumb is to always use Matrix mode unless you can think of a specific reason why you'd need Center Weighted Average or Spot Metering modes.
- Even if you think Spot or Center Weighted modes would be useful, we'd recommend shooting first in Matrix. Today's DSLRs are surprisingly good at judging exposure based on calculated matrixes.
- Metering is important because it determines the exposure of your shot, or how brightly / dimly lit it will be.
- Use Matrix Mode on your DSLR unless you have a very specific shot or reason to use another option.
- Spot Metering is useful only in niche circumstances, such as brightly backlit sporting events, shooting the moon or certain macro shots.
- Center Weighted Average Metering is best reserved for portraits.
- Even when metering, you can (likely) adjust your exposure up to two full stops in either direction; since Matrix is the least predictable, be willing to tweak things a little brighter or darker depending on preference.
- If you're overly concerned about metering, but have little time to adjust things on the fly, shoot in RAW -- metering can largely be adjusted after the fact with no real deterioration of quality if you do so. With JPEG, you will notice a decrease in quality when dramatically changing the exposure in post-processing.