Understanding Your Camera’s Metering Mode

A lot of photographers simply do not care about their camera’s metering or they simply just don’t know what it is or how it works. Metering mode is an integral part of digital cameras and correct exposure determination.

Metering mode is simply a way in which a camera determines exposure.

Metering Mode

They are basically three metering modes which I would like to talk about because they are found on virtually all DSLR and mirrorless cameras, although there are other kinds of metering mode designed to meet a range of lighting condition.

Spot metering mode

When your camera is set to spot metering mode, it measures a small area of the scene about 1-5% usually in the center of the scene. Spot metering mode is perfect for shooting contrasty scenes and tricky light conditions. If you wanna photograph a particular element in a scene without consideration for the other elements in the scene, then spot metering mode is your guy. In modern cameras, spot metering mode follows the focus point.   For instance, trying to capture the moon (particular element) will require you to use spot metering mode to get accurate result as other metering mode will fool the camera into underexposing the moon.

Spot metering mode is not really ideal for your normal day-to-day, broad day light photography. In most cases, you won’t be using this mode.

Matrix, multi, evaluative metering mode

Known as “matrix” on nikon, “evaluative” on canon and “multi” on sony cameras is a kind of metering mode that  takes account of everything in the view finder. In this mode, your camera measures the entire light in the frame and tries to determine the correct exposure. This is the default camera mode set by your camera’s manufacturer. Most of the time, I will advice you to stick with this metering mode. So, for your normal day-to-day, up-and-running kind of shoots, stick with this metering mode.

Center-weighted metering mode

As the name implies, center-weighted metering mode concentrates 60-80 percent of the light sensitivity towards the center of the view finder. Simply put: this metering mode takes a variable sized circle in the center of the view finder to determine exposure.


The matrix and center-weighted metering mode are the metering modes you should stick with majority of the time for consistent results. But you can always explore, play with the different metering mode and compare the results. Find out what really works for you and be creative.

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