Xpert Advice: The Art of Using Spot Metering

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Xpert Advice Using Spot Metering (1 of 1)ISO 4001-1250 sec at f - 2.8

There are three different types of metering modes that your camera has. In general, everyone uses and defaults to the evaluative metering setting–but that isn’t always the most useful mode for all situations. The three metering modes that Fujifilm cameras have are:

  • Evaluative: which analyzes an entire scene and makes the best estimation for how the camera should expose the scene.
  • Center-Weighted: which meters the scene based on what’s available around the center.
  • Spot metering: Which meters a specific area of the scene of your choosing.

In many situations, spot metering is a highly desired setting. It’s most popular with portrait photography since when you’re taking a portrait, the most important subject in the photo is often the portrait subject itself.

So why spot metering? One of the best reasons has to do with a very popular portrait technique using natural light: backlighting. Backlighting involves placing the sun or any sort of strong light source behind your subject so that they’re not squinting into the camera. But in the evaluative metering mode, the camera will most likely try to meter for the highlights and darken any sort of shadow detail into obscurity. In manual mode, you’re then going to need to overexpose by at least one stop depending on how strong the backlight is.

When using spot metering, placing the AF point over a subject’s eye or face meters for that area. This way, the subject is perfectly exposed and you can just keep on shooting. Depending on which Fujifilm camera you’re using, you’ll have either a switch to change the metering type or you’ll need to access this through the menu system.

So what about the highlights that are being blown out? The truth of the matter is that anyone that isn’t a photographer won’t sit there looking at the image complaining about the highlights being blown out. All they’ll see is a beautiful portrait; and that’s what matters. The main priority here is that your subject is perfectly exposed. Just keep in mind that not every photo needs to be an HDR image–especially not portraits.

Xpert Advice is a monthly collaboration between the Phoblographer and Fujifilm designed to teach you photography tips and tricks in a bite-sized package.