Digital SLRs and some compact digital cameras offer different types of metering modes: multi-segment, center-weighted average metering, spot metering, partial metering and auto-exposure lock. For example, I used the exposure lock mode for this sunset photograph that I took in Rajasthan, India. I pointed my camera at the area surrounding the sun and depressed the shutter release half way. That locked the exposure setting—the ƒ/stop and shutter speed. I recomposed the shot with the camel and rider in the frame, then I snapped the shot.
In this article, I’ll give you an overview of metering modes. Each one has its advantages. If you know which mode to choose in a particular lighting situation, you’ll have a good chance of getting a perfect exposure. And keep in mind that different model cameras feature different types of metering modes, and not all digital cameras offer all the modes I’ll discuss.
Multi-Segment Metering Multi-segment metering, also called evaluative, matrix or honeycomb metering, is an advanced TTL (through-the-lens) metering system that interprets simultaneous readings from multiple areas in the frame to determine the correct exposure.
It’s ideally suited for quick shooting when you need to get a light reading on an entire scene and set the exposure in a hurry. It can also be good to use when there’s a lot of contrast between light and shadow in a scene, as illustrated in this picture I took on the Ponderosa Ranch. On some cameras, this mode not only measures light, but it can identify some challenging situations (such as backlighting) and, therefore, automatically adjusts the exposure. Furthermore, on some cameras, this metering mode “knows” where your primary subject is located in the frame, because many multi-segment metering systems are linked to the camera’s autofocus system.
So, multi-segment metering is a good choice in many situations, because it evaluates the different areas of the scene and selects the best exposure.