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Light is critical in photography because it allows you to achieve the proper exposure. Photographers change aperture and shutter speed to ensure the proper quantity of light reaches the camera.

Metering is the technique of measuring the light on a subject in order to establish the best aperture, shutter speed, and ISO settings based on the subject and photographic goals.

There are two methods for measuring and manipulating the quantity of light that a light source casts on a topic. One method is to measure and control the incident light

Incident light

Incident light is the direct or indirect illumination that reaches a subject. When sunlight shines directly on a subject, it behaves as an incident light source. A handheld light meter is used to calculate the optimum exposure settings by measuring the intensity of light falling on a subject. This specialist technology accurately monitors the amount of light and advises the ideal shutter speed and aperture settings, allowing photographers to capture well-exposed images even in challenging lighting conditions.

Reflected light

A light meter is a useful photography tool that measures the intensity of light. Reflected light is significant when photographing a subject because it bounces off the subject and other elements in the scene.

The light is focused through the camera lens onto a particular sensitive surface to be measured. The exposure meter, which is integrated into both DSLR and mirrorless cameras, adjusts the aperture and shutter speed based on the amount of light passing through the lens as measured by the built-in meter.

The internal exposure meter is employed by the metering systems of both DSLR and mirrorless cameras. The light meter believes it to be about to precisely measure the luminance and determine the average brightness of a scene.

18 percent gray

The light meter on a camera is an internal feature that, depending on the model, offers a visual representation of the brightness or darkness of a picture. It operates in grayscale, which means it cannot sense colors. The light meter turns the colors in a scene into shades of grey while measuring exposure. Light meter establish the optimum exposure level by detecting the quantity of light reflected by objects in the scene.

The world is made up of more than simply colors and exposure levels. When it comes to exposure metering, the default value is frequently 18% grey, which reflects a medium grey tone. This option was chosen with the assumption that it corresponds to the average scene in terms of exposure value.

Logarithmic arithmetic underpins the standard value used for meters and exposure calculations. While it is not required to memories every intricate mathematical calculation, it is useful to understand that exposure meter are calibrated to interpret the world as if it were 18% grey. This particular value indicates the midway on a logarithmic scale, allowing for a thorough examination of light levels.

Camera Meter captures the world in shades of 18 percent gray.

Photographer: Abin Alex | Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | Focal Length: 100mm | Aperture: f/2.8 | Shutter Speed: 1/50 sec | ISO: 100

Metering mode

Automatic exposure frees up photographers’ time to focus on other important aspects of the photographic process, such as focus, composition, perspective, and subject presentation. The bulk of modern cameras include highly competent and adaptable metering systems. Because these technologies are dependable even in challenging lighting and exposure circumstances, evaluative metering is the preferred option in automated shooting modes.

Camera meter work best when lighting is equally distributed throughout a scene. The metering mode, on the other hand, serves as a system that assists exposure meter in determining the proper exposure for subjects with different light intensities. Metering mode in photography refers to the method by which the camera determines exposure.

Cameras have a variety of metering modes, normally consisting of three major modes, with the potential of a partial metering mode in some cameras.

A photographer struggling to navigate metering modes in challenging conditions. Photography: Abin Alex | Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV | Focal Length: 400mm | Aperture: f/5.6 | Shutter Speed: 1/500sec | ISO: 800

Matrix Metering (Nikon) and Evaluative Metering (Canon)
Center weighted metering
Spot metering

Evaluative Metering

Metering mode may be referred to by different names depending on the camera brand, such as matrix, multi, zone, pattern, or evaluative metering. To establish the optimal exposure settings, it considers aspects such as colour, distance, subjects, highlights, and more. The metering mode divides the visual frame into pieces and measures each section independently.

The metering system divides the scene into zones and analyses each segment to obtain information about shadows (both bright and dark areas) in the case of matrix or evaluative metering mode. Once this information is gathered, the metering system computes an average value based on the readings from the various zones. The camera then selects the best exposure settings based on this average result, ensuring a consistent exposure.

Center weighted metering


Using the entire frame to determine the correct exposure is not always the best approach. Center-weighted metering, on the other hand, assesses the light primarily in the central portion of the frame and considers its immediate surroundings, while disregarding the corners.

Center-weighted metering prioritizes center of the frame for exposure. It’s useful for subjects against bright backgrounds. Example: person’s face properly exposed, even with bright background.

The difference in metering modes can only be discerned by looking very closely. Photography : Abin Alex | Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Focal Length: 100 mm, Aperture: f/11, Shutter Speed: 1/125sec., ISO: 400

 Center Weighted

location metering calculates the optimum exposure by using a location in the image frame. This area is typically 2-5 percent of the frame, and when utilizing spot metering, everything inside the spot is averaged to calculate exposure, but nothing outside the spot is considered. However, it is more accurate than the preceding mods and can be used more frequently.

Spot Metering

A photographer should be able to decide which metering mode to choose depending on the circumstances. Photography: Ebin Alex | Camera: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Focal Length: 214 mm, Aperture: f/25, Shutter Speed: 1/160sec., ISO: 800


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