Metering Mode – Which one to Chose?

Metering Modes and Exposure

A camera’s metering mode generally refers to the way the camera itself comes about the correct exposure for a picture.

Today digital cameras users can choose and adjust the metering mode, or how the camera measures the brightness of the subject.  Here is a brief introduction to the most common metering modes available.

Spot metering mode;

Spot metering takes a reading from a very small part of the image and ignores the exposure of the rest of the scene.

  • 1 – 5% view finder area is measured.
  • The readings are usually taken from very centre of the scene.
  • This method of metering is very accurate.
  • Spot metering is usually used very high contrast scenes.

Metering Mode ImageCenter-weighted average metering mode;

Here a metering is taken from the whole of the scene first, then the central spot.

  • 60 to 80% view finder area measured.
  • It is usually possible to adjust the weight/balance of the central part to the peripheral one.
  • Less influenced by small areas that vary greatly in brightness at the edges of the viewfinder, more consistent results can be obtained

Average metering

  • Light information comes from the entire scene and is averaged for the final exposure setting.
  • No weighting to any particular portion of the metered area.

Partial metering mode

This is most common in Canon cameras.

  • 10-15% of the view finder area is measured.
  • Partial metering is used when very bright or very dark areas on the edges of the frame would otherwise influence the metering unduly
  • Partial metering is found mostly on Canon cameras.

Multi-zone metering

A type of metering first introduced by the Nikon, zone is a type of metering which takes readings from several different areas – or zones – within the scene to produce a calculated average.

  • Also called Evaluative/Matrix (Nikon), Evaluative (Canon). This is the default/standard metering setting on a number of cameras.
  • Light intensity measures from several points in the scene, and then combined to find the settings for the best exposure.
  • The idea behind multi-zone metering mode is to reduce the need to use exposure compensation


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