Better understanding Metering mode in DSLR

Better understanding Metering mode in DSLR

Metering was a very confusing topic for me  but after some digging deep and some experiment I got a clear pictures of metering in my DSLR. Now I feel that if it could be explain in a simple terms this concept is quite simple and helpful. So here is what I have summed up for you guys in a way I have understood. Hope it will be helpful.

better understanding metering mode

Lets began with these  two terms

1. Light meter



Light meters helps to calculate the amount of light falling in the camera sensor. Lets dig more deeper , the image below is the representation of how light meter reads the light



If the bottom (black blinking link) line is on the middle it’s the perfect exposure , if not its either under exposure or over exposure. So basically light meter helps you to calculate the amount of light falling in your lens are either over exposure , under exposure or perfect exposure so that you can change your values for aperture and shutter to get desired result. Remember it’s the white regions that influence the exposure calculation as black parts are ignored.

2. metering :-


“Metering control the light meter and how it reads the brightness of a subject” can be the simplest explanation that I can come up with. With metering mode you can control the way light meter works for separate scenario.  How? Through different modes

Matrix metering mode/Evaluative Metering

Center weighted metering mode/Center-Weighted Average Metering

Spot metering mode/Partial Metering

Though the name may be different in different models of different brand but the basic working methodology is all same

Matrix metering:-

When the matrix metering is on , the light meter shows its calculation based on the light distribution on a wide area of frame . For example if I had to shoot some landscape I may choose the matrix metering , since I may want the light coming from the different part of scene determines my light meter calculation


Center weighed metering:-

When the center metering mode is on , light meter shows its calculation based on the light falling in the center part of the lens.  Around 13 percent of the central frame. So if I have to shoot backlit portrait I may choose to use center weighted metering since I may want the light coming from subject face only determine the calculation of my light meter.  This modes works best when the subject is in the center of the frame.

center weighted metering


Spot metering

When the spot metering mode is on, the light meter shows  calculation based on the light falling in on the active focus point. Yes when u use spot metering and use your single focus point you can literally meter a light of a very small area . So I may  use spot metering again when taking portraits since I may want only the light falling in a exact area like eye may determining sa the calculation.



I hope that I have been successful in keeping the post as simple as possible. Try to understand that metering mode determine the way light meter reads a light.May b this post has made you confused about what option to use when but do not worry much about following any guidelines just makes sure you know what result what and then choose what you like most.

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About author

Anup Ghimire
Anup Ghimire 60 posts

Anup ghimire is a self learned Photographer/Designer and recently graduated in multimedia technologies from London metropolitan university.Traveling is something he loves the most after photography. You can see some of his photos at his facebook photography page

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