Curious about metering selection

Discussion in 'Casual Photo Conversations' started by jordan2240, Jun 26, 2015.

  1. Just curious about what metering most out here use in general. Realizing that there are always exceptions to your 'typical' settings, if you go out for a day of spontaneous shooting, would you have your camera set for matrix metering, center-weighted, or spot? I almost always use matrix, but perhaps that's not the best choice.
  2. Evaluative or spot. Spot can be good for difficult situations when shooting manual. I don't see use of partial or center-weighted.
  3. Manual metering for personal control is my priority setting, occasionally I will use c-w auto exposure for evenly lit scenes and when hurried. As spot and other autoexposure modes vary greatly from camera to camera, the choice for autoexposure mode would depend upon which camera.
  4. mostly matrix but I set the camera to switch to spot w/ the push of a button so that handles the difficult stuff where the matrix may not do the right thing.
  5. Bill, I use spot.
    Arthur, I don't understand your terminology. Aren't spot, matrix, and center-weighted metering methods which would apply to either auto or manual shooting?
  6. I almost always use matrix, but perhaps that's not the best choice.
    On the contrary, I think multi-zone (aka matrix/evaluative) metering is indeed the best choice for everyday shooting. Modern cameras use intelligent algorithms (or sensible ones at least) and (mostly) deal very well with picking good exposure settings. I only switch to spot metering when I am shooting a scene that I know will otherwise fool the meter. Center-weighted metering is a precursor to multi-zone metering I think, from the days before the electronics allowed for the complexity of multi-zone metering algorithms.
  7. I use evaluative (matrix) metering at least 95% of the time, and spot for challenging exposure situations. With my FD cameras, evaluative was not an option, so it was center-weighted, partial or spot (depending on the focusing screen). But I think evaluative is clearly the best for general shooting.
  8. By the way, Bill, I don't think there's a "best" choice. I think there's the choice that works for each of us. I find I'm most comfortable with spot because it allows me to nuance things toward the overall lighting and dynamics I want the photo to have and I've become pretty spontaneous in setting my exposures (manually) even on the fly. I have found spot metering allows me the most latitude in finessing the exposure I choose. I'm not sure others can or should tell you what's best as much as what we're telling you is simply what works for us.
  9. I use matrix most of the time. I use spot metering when there are extremes in dynamic range and I will meter just the area I need to be exposed properly. I set up my D7100 with one of the buttons to switch to spot metering instantly when I press it while I'm making the shot. Very handy.
  10. Matrix metering works well enough 80% of the time. When there is strong backlight, unusual contrast, or the subject is lighted against a dark background (stage lighting), I use a spot meter, either handheld or in the camera, and set the exposure manually. I almost never use the center-weighted option.
  11. I use Matrix pretty much exclusively, and tweak exposure accordingly when I see it's not giving me what I want. I usually shoot in manual, occasionally aperture priority.
  12. Use Evaluative almost exclusively along with extensive use of exposure compensation based upon the histogram (for Canon DSLRs) or the highlight/shadow clipping indication in viewfinder of my Olympus OMD. For shooting slides I often resorted to a spot meter to refine my exposure setting given the narrow latitude of that medium.
  13. Center weighted. It allows me to shift the exposure by moving the camera a little in or out of lighter or darker areas and then locking exposure. This way you don't have to offset the exposure +1 or -1 which I would then have to set back to 0.
  14. Fred, my cameras are quite simple ones and the manual is fixed to a single c-w mode (or a restricted angle metering some might call "spot" although spot is often in the 1 to 5 degree range of off camera exposure meters). I don't know about the fancier cameras that allow switching between different meter modes, except that I think I understand that there are no real standards between manufacturers regarding the angle of reflection or weighting of spot or c-w or matrix nodes. It is quite possible also, as you mention, that manual metering can be done with them in spot or wide angle metering modes.
  15. One thing to remember with spot metering, in fact it can become the fly in the ointment, especially if you are using the more restrictive spot angles, is that the color of each subject influences exposure and you may be reading only one or two colors in that spot. In other words, it is not the quantity of incident light falling on the subject that is being measured, but the reflected light, which depends upon the wavelengths retransmitted (function of object color). This is of less concern with c-w or wide angle metering (and I presume also matrix metering) as a greater variety of colors, shadows and bright surfaces, are being analysed and integrated (giving the 12 to 18% reflectance used in camera meter analysers), whereas a spot reading can leave you with just one color, the exposure compensation of which for an accurate rendering is highly dependent upon its color and texture.
    Those of us using spot meters (1 degree) or cameraswith very narrow spot metering angles may have a great tool for analysis of exposure in some difficult cases, but one that is affected by the single subject. The exposure compensations may require as much as two or more stops of difference (+ or -) from what is being read.
    Sometimes the "algorithms or fuzzy logic" of the human brain are just as good as the high tech metering systems, albeit a bit slower to pronounce. After some time it becomes sixth sense to override manually by small fractions of full stops what the meter reads, without any recourse to other automatic measuring systems. Knowing how to compensate for the foibles and shortcomings of the system is more satisfying and effective than wanting a technology to remove the thinking.
  16. Since digital makes this very easy to test, I've tried it in the three ways my Nikon does, spot, center weighted and matrix, and find that Matrix generally gets the best guess for most things, but I still use spot a lot for certain things. I find I rarely bother with center weighted, as if spot is not needed, Matrix usually gets it.
    When I was using older Nikons with center weighting, I found it pretty easy, as Arthur Plumpton mentions, to second guess the meter when necessary, but modern matrix meters have made me lazier, I guess.
  17. When I shoot color negative film I use center weighted. When I shoot digital I use matrix.
  18. Thanks all for the helpful responses. As always, settings depend on the situation, and 'best' is certainly subjective. But I figure that many are like me and have a 'typical' set of settings that are tweaked as needed. I'm kind of surprise 'center-weighted' isn't more popular, though I rarely use it myself either (mostly because I tend to forget it exists). Also surprised that some typically use 'spot,' as I'd be afraid that wouldn't usually work well for the overall frame. But I do like the idea of having a button that can quickly switch to spot. I'll have to see if my cameras have that. Thanks again all.
  19. Also surprised that some typically use 'spot,' as I'd be afraid that wouldn't usually work well for the overall frame.​
    Bill, I find if I have an idea of the type of lighting and exposure I want the shot to have and I maintain as keen a sense as possible of what spot to choose to meter, I usually get the results I want or results I can work with. Most often the way I foresee the overall frame is as a combo of various degrees of highlights and shadows. Using spot metering allows me to be aware of how the different parts of the frame work together and offset or complement each other in creating that whole.
  20. Fred,
    Thanks for the additional explanation. Makes sense. Will be something I experiment with.
  21. I was glancing through Moose Peterson's Nikon summary today, Vol. 6, all film. I know he is a total cheerleader for Nikon,
    but his tables are very handy, e.g., which lens hood goes with lens, etc. in his review of the Nikon F5, he claims its matrix
    metering is totally fool-proof. I usually always use matrix, but with digital, I like the histogram in the viewfinder to guard
    against blown out highlights. When shooting film with meterless cameras, I use an app on my iPhone 5, which emulates
    matrix metering. Of course, print film is ver forgiving.
  22. david_henderson


    With a dslr, evaluative 98% of the time. When I used Medium Format with colour slide film, then 1 degree spot with a hand-held meter 95% or more. So it depends on the dynamic range of the medium and whether I have the opportunity to put small/medium errors right or re-shoot if necessary after the event with the aid of a histogram.
  23. William Michael

    William Michael Moderator Staff Member

    I tend to use Spot Metering mostly.
    I think that a supplementary question would be: "what camera mode to you typically use?" For me, Spot Metering goes hand in glove with Manual Camera Mode.; whereas I would typically use "Evaluative" (Canon) or Matrix (Nikon) if I were using an Automatic Camera Mode such as Aperture Priority.
  24. I dont look at the meter often (and I am very uncomfortable in autoexposure modes). But when I use the meter of the camera, I only use it in center-weighted or spot because I can only know how the meter works when it is in these modes.
  25. My Nikon D80 has a notoriously funky matrix meter that I don't always trust so I switch a lot between spot and center weighted metering. A lot of times I am in spot because I can sample the highlights or what I think are the important parts of a scene, or check areas of 'average' tonality as a check on my exposure settings, I tend to work slower than many when I am out shooting so spending time taking several readings with the spot meter isn't the hindrance to me that it might be for others. If I feel the need to 'run and gun' that is usually pretty situational where lighting is going to remain reasonably static so I will find a good average exposure and just make sure I'm not going to blow highlights.​

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