What is Metering in Photography? - B&C Camera

Photography heavily depends on capturing light to produce captivating and visually pleasing photos. One of the essential factors in achieving the right exposure is mastering metering techniques.


This article will explain the importance of metering in photography, how to use it, and why it is crucial for well-exposed photographs.


What is Metering in Photography?

In photography, metering means measuring the light in a scene with the camera to choose the best exposure settings. It helps photographers balance the photo's brightness areas, such as highlights, shadows, and mid-tones. Doing so prevents overexposure (areas that are too bright) and underexposure (too dark). Metering is the camera's built-in light metering system that helps achieve correct exposure.


Types of Metering Modes

Modern cameras have different metering modes that can be used for different shooting scenarios. The commonly used metering modes include:


a chart shows Evaluative (Matrix/Multi-Segment) Metering

Evaluative (Matrix/Multi-Segment) Metering

This mode analyzes different areas of the entire frame to calculate the exposure, considering factors such as subject brightness, color, distance, and composition. It aims to provide a well-balanced exposure.


a chart shows Center-Weighted Metering

Center-Weighted Metering

This mode, known as center-weighted metering, emphasizes the center of the frame by measuring the light in this area and averaging it with the surrounding regions. It is particularly useful for portraits where the subject is the primary focus.


a chart shows Spot Metering 

Spot Metering

Spot metering is a camera setting that measures light in a small, specific frame area, typically around 2-5% of the viewfinder. This allows for precise exposure control by allowing you to meter for a specific subject or highlight within the scene.


a chart shows Partial/Highlight-weighted Metering

Partial/Highlight-weighted Metering

Partial metering is like spot metering, but it measures the light of a bigger area, typically 10-15% of the viewfinder. This mode is handy when the subject takes up a considerable part of the frame, but you wish to include some of the surroundings.


How to Use Metering Effectively

To optimize metering, you can use these steps: 

  1. Become familiar with your camera's metering modes and how to switch between them. You can refer to your camera's manual for guidance.
  2. To improve your understanding of exposure, learn about the exposure triangle made up of aperture, shutter speed, and ISO. By adjusting these settings, you can control the exposure and appearance of your photographs.
  3. Evaluate the scene to choose the appropriate metering mode for your subject and shooting conditions. While evaluative/matrix metering is a safe option for most situations, spot or center-weighted metering may be more effective in specific scenarios.
  4. Point your camera towards the subject or region of interest to properly expose your shot. Press the shutter button halfway to activate the metering system and check the exposure reading displayed on the viewfinder or LCD screen.
  5. If the lighting conditions are not normal or there is high contrast, you may need to adjust the exposure compensation based on the metering reading of your camera. Furthermore, taking a series of shots with different exposures using exposure bracketing can be beneficial to ensure you get the desired exposure while editing the photos.


The Importance of Metering in Photography

To achieve accurate exposure in a photograph, it is essential to use metering. This helps to control the balance between light and shadow, resulting in a natural and appealing tonal range with preserved highlight and shadow details throughout the entire image.


I loved capturing special moments with my camera when I started learning photography. But as I learned more, I struggled to get the right amount of light in my photos. They were often too bright or dark, and I couldn't find the right balance. That's when I discovered the idea of metering.


Learning about the various metering modes and their functions has significantly impacted my photography. I can use light effectively and make informed decisions to capture well-exposed images. Through practice, my comprehension of metering has improved, leading to better-quality photos. A once intimidating task, achieving proper exposure has become a skill I can confidently utilize to enhance my compositions.


Understanding and utilizing the art of metering transformed my photography. I could preserve delicate details in highlights and shadows with metering, bringing depth and dimension to my photographs. This became my guiding light and took my journey as a photographer to a significant leap forward.


To improve your photography skills, it's important to master your camera's metering system. This will give you control over the exposure of your images, allowing you to accurately capture the mood and essence of your subject.


By learning to use metering, you can overcome difficult lighting situations, maintain details in areas of brightness and darkness, and create balance in your photos. This will help you move past technical difficulties and focus on the artistic side of photography, allowing you to express your vision with accuracy and skill.


So master metering techniques to achieve a well-balanced composition of light and shadow in your photographs. You no longer have to be scared of those little boxes on the back of your camera screen!


Related article: What is Emphasis in Photography?

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Related article: What is Bracketing in Photography?


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