Metering is one of those strange aspects of photography. It’s actually a rather straightforward principle, but it seems complex to new camera users due to unfamiliar terminology like “spot”, “evaluative” and “incident”. But it’s pretty easy to get to grips with.
In this video, photographer Saurav Sinha, goes over the basic metering modes that are common to pretty much all cameras. Those are spot, centre weighted and matrix or evaluative metering. There are other brand-specific metering modes available on some cameras, but these are the ones you’ll come across most often.
- 0:50 – Matrix Metering
- 1:57 – Centre Weighted Metering
- 2:50 – Spot Metering
It’s a great video that gets straight to the point on metering modes, how they work, and how they affect your imagery. Making sure you choose the right metering mode for the shot you’re trying to get is important, and not understanding metering modes can cause you to get very unexpected results.
Of course, using your camera’s built-in reflective meter isn’t the only way to meter a shot. You can also use the “take a test shot and check the histogram” method. Although this isn’t always as reliable as we’d like. It works for some, but not so much for others.
Or you can do away with the camera’s suggestions completely and get yourself a handheld incident meter. This is the route I generally tend to go, with the Sekonic L758DR. It makes life so much easier and more consistent for me. But whether a handheld meter is the way to go for you will depend on what you want to shoot.
But, figure out the in-camera metering first, learn to understand the histogram, and see if they give you what you need before deciding whether to spend money on a handheld meter.