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Tips & Tricks

Metering Explained – Great Article by Engadget

By Matthew Saville on March 26th 2012

Using Spot Metering & Aperture Priority in a tough lighting situation
Nikon D300, Sigma 50-150 2.8 DC, RAW capture

 Using Spot Metering & Aperture Priority in a tough lighting situation
Nikon D300, Sigma50-150 2.8 DC, RAW capture


Camera Metering is still one of the biggest difficulties in photography today.Sure, with digital, you can “just look at the back of the camera!” …However while that might work for a hobbyist who takes photos more casually, EVERYONE who aspires to truly master the craft of photography (especially in a professional capacity) should truly master camera metering.

THIS ARTICLE on camera metering by Engadget is a great, simple explanation that goes a little bit into the history of metering, how light is “detected”, and why you should consider matering more than just ONE technique or camera setting.

You see, among advice-giving professionals, a lot of the time it’s just “Learn to use Manual exposure, your life will never be the same!”…However, this is kind of narrow minded.Exposure mode is only half of the equation, in fact I would argue: It is more important to master your METERING modes, than your EXPOSURE modes.If Idon’t understand metering, then yeah I can just shoot in manual, and check the back of my camera until I get it right. But if I understand exposure AND metering, …then I can start nailing shots on the first try, like the above example.(What if your fill-flash doesn’t have enough power at higher shutter speeds??)

So, aspiring photographers, enjoy the article!Always remember, there is no one perfect metering mode or exposure mode for EVERY situation you could possibly find yourself in.The best thing you can do is to understand how and when to use Manual, Aperture, Shutter, and Program exposure modes, and Evaluative / Matrix, Center-Weighted, and spot metering.Even if you end up only ever using one mode, you’ll feel MUCH more confident in your abilities!

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Matthew Saville is a full-time wedding photographer at Lin & Jirsa Photography, and a senior editor & writer at SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Ed Rhodes

    i agree, bryan peterson is nails

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  2. Joe Gunawan

    I highly suggest reading Bryan Peterson’s Understanding Exposure to really understand metering. There are a lot of great information and techniques in there, especially if you don’t have an incident light meter handy and have to rely on the camera’s light meter. Important things like when to not rely on the “correct exposure” like against a white wall or a deep black wall because the camera will try to make those thing to be 18% grey instead of white or black.

    Joe Gunawan |

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