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Thread: Camera metering modes

  1. #1
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    Camera metering modes

    This question might be a little bit embarrassing but I will ask anyway:

    I hate to memorize things but I have to admit, I still don't know the exact meaning/use/difference between different metering modes on my camera, evaluative, center weighted, etc.

    Could you guys please tell me in very simple innovative ways, what each one does and personally when do you use each one othese options ? I have read about them a lot but I am still looking for a practical explanation of the difference between them and their applications. I guess I dont have a good grasp of the EV compensation either...

    Thanks!

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    Re: Metering modes

    Dead easy when you understand it ...

    It's just a way to tell the camera which parts of the scene need to be exposed correctly.

    In Evaluative mode (Canon terminology) - you're saying "consider everything"

    In Partial mode you're saying "consider just the big bit in the middle"

    In Spot mode you're saying "consider just a tiny bit in the middle"

    and in Centre-weighted Avergage mode you're saying "It's all important, but what's in the middle is more important to get right than what's around the edges, so give more "weight" to getting that right".

    Each have their place. Evaluative is probably the most common - partial is handy what you have things like back lighting in the scene (eg bright light from a window in the corner) - spot metering is a bit more specialised (stay tuned for an upcoming article I'm writing on using it in conjunction with manual esposure) - and Centre-weighted average is handy in certain conditions, but I don't use it much personally.

    Exposure Compensation (EC) is dead easy - it's just a way to tell the camera "OK - whatever you decide is needed for correct exposure of this scene, I want you to add or subtract "x" amount of exposure from it" (because certain scenes (eg snow) are metered incorrectly (because of the way metering works - also in upcoming article).

    Does this help?

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    Re: Metering modes

    With Nikon the Matrix mode is the equivalent of the Canon Evaluative. The D90 that I have is a major improvement on the D80 for matrix metering, and this is the mode I most commonly use. If a scene is backlit I usually use fill flash, sometimes full or sometimes stopped down a bit depending on the situation.
    If I don't care about the background I'll use spot metering and no flash, I can vary the size of the spot to suit.

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    Re: Metering modes

    This is where it can get a bit tricky. Firstly what camera; most SLR's are similar but they can vary a little.

    Focus/meter and recompose can give false readings depending on your equipment and settings. Try some experiments. Using each of the available methods, focus on a subject like a distant dark area and note the exposure reading, hold your button half way then look at the sky and see if the exposure reading changes. If so, the last reading will be used by your camera. I am assuming that you aren't using any of the fully auto controls.

    There are ways to lock exposure but I am a bit unwilling to say too much now without knowing your camera model. Your instruction manual should go into detail about this issue.

    Evaluative metering is the all encompassing fail safe method but often you will want the centre to be perfectly exposed and don't mind the edges being a bit over or under exposed. The area of exposure metering varies, as Colin has explained in detail.

    I often want part of the image which isn't in the centre to be perfectly exposed so I frequently take a reading from this area using Spot or Partial metering and note the shutter speed and aperture recommendations, then switch to Manual and enter those settings. Sometimes I take readings from several areas and try to work out an average exposure which suits me.

    The trouble with taking spot readings and manually setting the exposure is that if you get it wrong you have nothing to blame except yourself!

    Another problem is that while this method is fine for stationary objects it takes too long for those quick one off shots like a flying bird etc. For those photos, I usually use spot metering as the background isn't important.

    But this whole subject soon gets very involved so experimentation and noting your settings is really the best way of learning.

    EV compensation, very basically, is just adding a bit of over or under exposure to whatever your camera has decided to be correct. It can be very handy if you think your camera is being fooled by difficult lighting. And if you think your camera settings may be suspect it is a simple way to take a number of images with each one having very slightly different exposure. Most cameras have auto settings to take a number of images with different EV compensations but nowadays I prefer to do the adjustment myself.

    Once again take a number of test photos with different compensations and see the difference. Although it sounds complicated, you will soon get the hang of things and won't totally rely on the auto settings in the future.

    Hope this helps a little; it is more complicated to explain than to actually do it yourself.

    Geoff

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    Re: Metering modes

    According to Brian Peterson, who wrote one of the best books I've ever read (Understanding Exposure), you could use, as also Colin wrote, Average/Matrix (90% of the time this two will be exact), however when photographing scenes with a lot of contrasts you could use Spot.

    I recommend you to read this tutorial written by Sean http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...a-metering.htm

    I could also recommend you to:
    - use Manual mode, because if you are using one of the option with an image, then you should have to lock the measure you want to keep, otherwise, the camera will change
    - meter the sky or when having a lot of green, get the meter from them and recompose

    When you're metering the sky, you could get some really vibrant pictures, it'll always help you.

    You could always take two pictures using spot or average/matrix and then decide which one is for you.

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    So, when I press the shutter button half way using any of these modes, and then recompose, am I using the original measuring for the new composition?
    We can not know, it depends on the costum - settings.
    I assume you use Canon, somewhere in the costum-menu there is C.Fn-? about AF/AE lock etc.
    There you can see (and set) the behavior of the shutterbutton.

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by d3debian View Post
    We can not know, it depends on the costum - settings.
    I assume you use Canon, somewhere in the costum-menu there is C.Fn-? about AF/AE lock etc.
    There you can see (and set) the behavior of the shutterbutton.
    Does this setting tells the camera what to remember when recomposing?

    Can I instead do :

    Meter off an area then press the star (*) button to lock the exposure settings
    Then, do any selective focus; recompose then take the shot with the initial locked exposures?

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern
    spot metering is a bit more specialised (stay tuned for an upcoming article I'm writing on using it in conjunction with manual esposure)
    Great! That's right what I was searching around on the web. Looking forward to it

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    Re: Metering modes

    @Zephyrize

    What i know about it is only about the EOS 400D.
    With prosumer and pro- bodys there might be more options available.

    The situation you describe is possible to set in custom-menu but then i 've to press the shutterbutton half to lock AE and the (*) button to lock AF.

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by d3debian View Post
    @Zephyrize
    With prosumer and pro- bodys there might be more options available.
    Oh yeah

    With the 1D3 and 1Ds3 you can spot meter up to 8 locations - graph them relative to each other on the metering scale - and then control flash exposure entirely seperately!

    ... and that's just for starters!

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    Re: Metering modes

    I better avoid the high-end gear.
    Do you have an usb-cable from camera into your ear to make use off the memory-card to remember all settings wich are switched on?
    I escaped into the manual mode to get rid of options wich i probably forget when shooting (like AE-lock and exposure-compensation)
    I prefer to stick to the basics, less is more for me.
    The less i need to remind, the more is the probabilty to a decent picture.

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff F View Post
    This is where it can get a bit tricky. Firstly what camera; most SLR's are similar but they can vary a little.
    Thanks a lot Geoff for the detailed reply. I like those experimental solutions. As I do it, I can learn about the basis and theory of it. Which brings me to another fundamental question, I will ask as a separate threat!

    I actually use Canon 5D MKII. Under function, it has so many combinations that makes me dizzy. I am actually pretty good with computers and gadgets in general but still could not figure it out. The manual does not help that much, has a few short sentences for each option.

    I guess in the meantime, we can all wait for Colin's paper to come out!

    Thanks everyone...

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    I actually use Canon 5D MKII. Under function, it has so many combinations that makes me dizzy.
    You wouldn't like the 1D series then - by co-incidence I was looking through a 5D2 manual a couple of days ago - and was somewhat surprised at the LACK of custom function options compared to my 1Ds3!

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by Colin Southern View Post
    You wouldn't like the 1D series then - by co-incidence I was looking through a 5D2 manual a couple of days ago - and was somewhat surprised at the LACK of custom function options compared to my 1Ds3!
    I have seen the 1Ds Manual! Pretty amazing...I would love to have one of those.

    Actually, until I learn the art of photography, that is the only thing that keeps me interested and busy. I mean it makes me dizzy but I like that kind of dizziness. This is something I always tell others that if I knew of any other gadget with so many different combinations/options/possibilities, I would spend the same amount of time on that too. Kind of emabarassing for a photographer, huh?

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    Re: Metering modes

    I certainly enjoy the functionality of mine - so many little things that can make life easier when you understand how they work (and of course they can bite you in the rear as well!).

    I've made many suggestions to Canon's Chuck Westfall for additional firmware functionality to give us even more to play with, but alas, nothing's been implimented yet - but I keep my fingers crossed!

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    Re: Metering modes

    Hi Sedali, why don't you change to Sony, the user interface is friendly and easy to use. The Alpha 900 is cheap compare to others with the same characteristics.

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by dasle View Post
    Hi Sedali, why don't you change to Sony, the user interface is friendly and easy to use. The Alpha 900 is cheap compare to others with the same characteristics.
    Two things:

    I consider Sony to be the leader in videography devices, and when I buy a camcorder it is alway Sony, but not photography!, no matter how many trillion megapixels they put in their sensors

    And aside from that, I just go with the most famous brand; I know there is not much difference between Sony or Canon or Nikon that "I" can notice or understand, but I still get a good feeling using the famous brands, for some reason.

    I have always wondered about the people who buy a Subaru instead of a Honda or Olympus instead of a Canon or Nikon. Very interested to know what their reasons are. Of course, one of the (major) reasons could be the price, but as I said, I am willing to wait and save and buy the more expensive but more famous brand rather than going with the less famous brand. Not very rational but I guess that is what many people do.

    May be someone can start a poll to see what people consider more important when they buy a camera!


    But now I have a bigger problem switching, the one that keeps many people like me to switch: I have invested a lot of money in Canon accessories, that makes it very painful to switch even to Nikon, not that I was considering it

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post

    I consider Sony to be the leader in videography devices, and when I buy a camcorder it is alway Sony, but not photography!, no matter how many trillion megapixels they put in their sensors
    I know what you mean - you'd be hard pushed to find someone with more Sony gear than me - but - when it comes to SLR cameras, they just don't do it for me

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    Re: Camera metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    This question might be a little bit embarrassing but I will ask anyway:

    I hate to memorize things but I have to admit, I still don't know the exact meaning/use/difference between different metering modes on my camera, evaluative, center weighted, etc.

    Could you guys please tell me in very simple innovative ways, what each one does and personally when do you use each one othese options ? I have read about them a lot but I am still looking for a practical explanation of the difference between them and their applications. I guess I dont have a good grasp of the EV compensation either...

    Thanks!
    Hi,
    An interesting discussion.
    I tend to use a hand held incident light meter (with difuser cone) wherever possible as this is really the only way to get a truly accurate reading of the light falling on a subject.
    In situations where this is not practical, measuring from a neutral green or grey part of the scene can be equally effective.
    Some experimentation is necessary, but don't be scared of using 'manual' modes. The best computer you have is between your ears. It just takes a little time to get the feel of things.
    In the meantime, have a look at this rather excellent tutorial...
    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tut...a-metering.htm

    Mike

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by sedali View Post
    Two things:

    I consider Sony to be the leader in videography devices, and when I buy a camcorder it is alway Sony, but not photography!, no matter how many trillion megapixels they put in their sensors

    ok Canon users, please then don't complaint about the horrible, dificult and I don't know what else adjectives else might describe the interface your camera has

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    Re: Metering modes

    Quote Originally Posted by dasle View Post
    ok Canon users, please then don't complaint about the horrible, dificult and I don't know what else adjectives else might describe the interface your camera has
    You're not going to like this ... but ... I have no issues with the Canon interface what-so-ever; just like photoshop there are a lot of shortcuts to get you places once you know them. In fact I have to locate many buttons by feel as the camera can often be above head height, or alternatively I can't read the labels because I haven't got my reading glasses on!

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