Photography Cheat Sheet: Metering Modes in a Nutshell

Ever been confused about which of your camera’s metering modes is best for which scene? Keep this handy cheat sheet close on your next shoot!

If you’ve yet to master your camera’s features and settings, understanding the metering modes is one of the crucial elements to get started with. Through this functionality, your camera evaluates the best exposure settings to choose based on a particular scene. With this quick tutorial and cheat sheet from Digital Camera World, you’ll soon be able to get your exposure spot-on with the right metering mode. The tutorial explains how metering modes are valuable for ensuring that your photos are correctly exposed. They determine the extent of the darkest areas, brightest areas, and everything in between, as well as the best aperture and shutter speed combination. The cheat sheet below covers the four most common metering modes you’ll find in most cameras today, how they work, and when to use them.

Continue reading…

You Need to See this Deep Dive on the Science Behind Exposure and Metering

You know about the exposure triangle and sunny 16, but do you know the science behind them?

Exposure is an integral part of photography: you literally deal with this every single time you take a picture or look at the live view coming from your digital camera. Metering is also a very important part to how digital cameras work, especially those that work in some sort of automatic mode: this is how your camera decides to measure the light and by extension, figure out what a ‘proper’ exposure for the scene is.

Continue reading…

Simpler Than You Think: The Secret To Metering a Portrait Photo With a Flash

Sooooooooo many photographers are completely and totally scared of using a flash, but in all truthfulness it’s probably sometimes easier than metering for natural light. Because a camera has options like aperture priority for a photographer to tell the camera only what depth of field a photographer wants, lots of photographers tend to opt for this setting more than anything else. If you’re shooting in manual mode, this can work too but it isn’t always worth doing.

Now what if I told you that when working with a flash, you can set it and forget it? Well, it’s true for the most part.

Continue reading…

The Phoblographer Explains: How TTL Flash Metering Works

One of the biggest things that makes no sense to me as a strobist photographer is why we don’t have any sort of universal TTL flash metering system. Instead of that, every single camera manufacturer has their own for the sake of being able to compete with one another while delivering flashes that essentially all do the same thing. It’s a hassle for photographers moving from one system to another. To understand this and my reasoning, you need to understand how TTL Flash metering works.

And trust me; it’s a whole lot simpler than you think.

Continue reading…

The Phoblographer Answers: What Metering Mode Should You Generally Use?

One of the most common questions that many photographers ask is what metering mode they should be in. It can be confusing to many people and generally, a lot of photographers tend to get their camera in evaluative mode and shoot it in that without batting an eye and adjusting it according to what the camera’s light meter states.

But here’s a little bit of information that can help you out even more.

Continue reading…

Meter is Metering: Or Please Stop Complaining About Dynamic Range

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm X70 review color and dynamic range (2 of 2)ISO 16001-60 sec at f - 2.8

In 2008, Canon spearheaded a charge for a major state of innovation that would forever change the industry. The Canon 5D Mk II was announced: and not only could it shoot HD video but it could also resolve loads of details, handle ISO noise pretty well and had great dynamic range rendition. At the same time, Trey Ratcliff’s Stuck in Customs was taking off a bit more than it already had as the world marvelled at his HDR photography. I did it, you did it, advertisers did it, etc. All of that created a world where photographers sit there and complain about the dynamic range on the internet because they have a computer and an avatar. For a while, it made sense; but the year is now 2016: and the truth is going to hurt for many of you still stuck in 2005.

Are you ready?

Continue reading…

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.

Useful Photography Tip #144: Spot Metering vs Evaluative Metering

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Fujifilm XT10 first impressions (2 of 15)ISO 2001-750 sec at f - 1.4

Want more useful photography tips? Click here.

Cameras by default are set to metering a scene through the evaluative setting, but they have three different settings. Evaluative will analyze an entire scene and figure out a way to create the scene that the camera thinks you want. Center-weighted metering meters a scene based on what’s in the center of whatever the camera is pointing at and sees. Spot metering meters the scene off of a specific spot that you choose. This is best used in combination with manual autofocus point selection.

Most people shoot and never think about their metering mode. Then when they chimp their LCD screen and don’t like the image, they simply just overexpose or underexpose. But to avoid that altogether, the best route to take is to first consider what you want in the end vision of your photo.

In the image above, Erica was being strongly backlit by the sunlight coming down the avenue. In the evaluative mode, the camera would have compensated for this and made her very dark in order to cater to the highlights. But in spot metering mode, the camera metered for her face due to my metering off of it and autofocusing off of it.

If I didn’t switch to spot metering, the camera would have needed to be set to overexpose the scene by around a stop at most. This can save you a bunch of time in post-production but it can also just make your life easier as far as actually getting the image you want the first time around goes.

In general, the best reason to use spot metering would have to be if only a specific thing in the scene is more important to you and the image more than anything else–such as with a portrait. With a landscape, you’re probably best off with evaluative metering unless you spot meter the highlights, then spot meter the shadows, then find a happy medium point. If you figure this out, you can then go ahead and get the exact photo that you want with less attempts.

Useful Photography Tip #116: Use Spot Metering When Working with Multiple Light Sources

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Impact Quikbox and LiteTrek photos (8 of 17)ISO 200

Want more useful photography tips? Click here.

One of the greatest things that you can accomplish technically as a photographer is shooting with a flash during bright daylight and nailing exposure perfectly. If you’re doing this, then chances are that you’ll use a TTL lighting functionality or high speed sync or even making sure that your flash duration is just at a fast setting. But even this can become tedious and frustrating for the best of photographers–especially when using light modifiers like softboxes.

The best approach to a situation like this is to use spot metering on your camera. When you switch to spot metering you can figure out what the exposure is for the ambient/natural light and the flash/strobe output. Spot metering literally meters off of the area that you’re choosing. It ignores things like tying to make the entire scene completely balanced in terms of exposures and works well because it helps you make a more informed decision about what to do with your artificial light.

So where do you begin?

– Set your camera to spot metering mode and meter your subject’s face (providing that you’re shooting a portrait)

– Meter your camera accordingly.

– Use a handheld light meter to judge what aperture you should be shooting at if you’re using a light without TTL. Otherwise, set your aperture to whatever you want and the flash will meter itself hopefully. If it doesn’t then switch to manual mode and do the same method as when using a handheld light meter.

As an extra tip, set your handheld light meter to the fastest shutter speed so that it doesn’t see the ambient light and doesn’t try to work along with it.

Useful Photography Tip #82: The Best Skill You Will Learn As You Become More Advanced Is Metering

Chris Gampat Shooting Landscapes (9 of 10)

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here.

As you become a more advanced photographer, you’ll learn quite a bit. For example, composition can always be changed in the post-production phase–as can tilt, saturation or nearly anything else. But what you’ll really begin to see is just how well your camera’s meter works. On average, I feel that my aging Canon 5D Mk II underexposes by around one stop; in fact, lots of other owners feel the same way. And even though the camera’s meter will say that it is balanced, I find myself brightening the image by a full stop all the time. Over time, this led me to just overexpose in the camera; but it would also mean that my highlights eventually were destroyed in some cases.

Choosing Spot metering over evaluative helped at times, but not all the time.

So what is the solution?

All reviewers on the Phoblographer staff are required to be proficient in the tried and true Sunny 16. It’s how we test the metering of cameras. According to this rule: in a bright sunny scene with nary a shadow around, your f-stop will be f16 while your shutter speed will be the reciprocal of your ISO. So with that said, we mean that it will be 1/100th, ISO 100 and f16 in a bright sunny scene with barely any shadows. You’ll need to pay very careful attention to the scene and also figure out how dark and light the shadows are too.

By using this method, you can tell how much detail your camera can pull from the highlights and shadows in the post-production phase. This is known as the dynamic range. The dynamic range then can help you determine the individual color levels to give you the best image you can possibly get.

And once you know how to meter with your camera in order to get the right idea, your entire workflow will be much faster. How much faster? I’ve perfected it to the point where I can get exactly what I need in a single shot–which translates into a lot less work in post and a much less full hard drive.

Useful Photography Tip #73: Use Spot Metering When Shooting Portraits

Chris Gampat The Phoblographer Retouches of Dave Shim (6 of 6)ISO 320

Want more Useful Photography Tips? Check them out here.

Sometimes the best thing to do is to never trust your camera’s metering. When it comes to portraiture, this is why many photographers have traditionally used hand held meters to help them figure out how to get the right exposure. And if you’re going to shoot a portrait (and for example’s sake, we’re going to say that you’re shooting outside), you’ll need to keep in mind that the primary focus and subject of your end result will be on the person (or pet). If your subject is backlit (which can actually create some incredibly beautiful images) your camera will most likely tell you that all that sun coming in needs to be nerfed. Since your subject is backlit, they will come out looking very dark if you’re working with natural light without a flash (this is even the case for a reflector being used.) Though keep in mind that with a flash you can sometimes even overpower the sun.

So the natural workaround to this is to overexpose. We’ve talked about it in older posts before. Generally, what you’ll do is overexpose by a full stop. However, this is providing that your camera is set to evaluative metering–and 99% of the time 99% of photographers set their camera to this setting and never take it off. If you change to spot metering, your camera will meter off of a general spot that you’re focusing on. Providing that you hold the spot and lock it when shooting in manual mode, you’ll be able to quickly get rid of this issue.

Sounds so simple right? Then why don’t more photographers do it?

The Dark Art of Metering

Just 2/3-stop separates these two images, with the reduced exposure from the camera meter's recommendation resulting in a much more dramatic, scene.

Light metering is one of the black arts of photography: one of those mysterious skills possessed only by the elite of the photographers who understand the yin and yang of light and shade…or at least that’s what some would have you believe. It’s simply not true, and the basics of light metering are pretty simple.

Continue reading…

6 Fixed Lens Cameras That Make Everyday Shooting Easy

If you like to get out of the door quickly and shoot with minimal fuss, these fixed lens cameras will be perfect for you.

Sometimes, the thought of having to load up your camera bag with accessories and lenses so that you can go and shoot can put a stop to your photography plans. This is where small fixed lens cameras can be game-changers. The thought of heading out with a tiny camera and just one lens can be exciting. Using fixed lens cameras can save your body from all the weight of your gear. You’ll also find that you’re forced to be more creative, which is a plus. If you’re in the market for a camera that you can grab quickly and take along everywhere you go with minimum fuss, these fixed lens cameras might be for you. We have listed six of our favorite fixed lens cameras after the break.

Continue reading…

A Beautiful But Incredibly Boring Camera. Fujifilm SQ1 Review

The Fujifilm SQ1 is a lazy Instax camera using the company’s fantastic square format.

Someone was bound to say it, but it seems Fujifilm isn’t really trying with the Instax format. They’re just releasing cameras that spit the film out in various sizes. Some have Bluetooth connectivity, which is very cool. Some are just printers. But lots of them do the same thing: take a photo and spit it out. With the Fujifilm SQ1, I feel that Fujifilm is still not doing anything different. For years, I’ve asked for a higher-end Instax camera. I keep hearing the same things from them: people don’t want it. And I don’t believe that. With Lomography releasing an Instant film back for large format cameras, I have to believe that folks want a higher-end Instax camera. The Fujifilm SQ1 isn’t that camera. In fact, it barely does anything at all.

Continue reading…

The Best Mirrorless Cameras You Can Buy For Around $2,000

Camera Deals

Mirrorless cameras in and around the $2,000 price range offer outstanding value for money.

It still blows my mind that you can buy feature-packed cameras, including Full-Frame options, for around $2,000. In the past, cameras that were considered to be ‘for pros’ would cost double this amount. They weren’t as feature-rich as today’s Mirrorless cameras either. If you need a new camera and have around $2,000 to spend, this roundup is for you. After the break, we’ll look at eight Mirrorless cameras to spring for if you’re a professional photographer or hybrid shooter.

Continue reading…

Quit Your Hate! This Is Great! Canon EOS R5 Review

The Canon EOS R5 is the company’s first major professional mirrorless camera, and it’s wonderful!

There was a time when I was angry at Canon. But when the Canon EOS R launched, that anger subsided. It was a nice entry into the serious mirrorless camera world. But the Canon EOS R5 is arguably the camera they should have launched at the start. This camera can easily become the bread and butter of any professional photographer using it. It can also be a great tool for a multimedia shooter. Better yet, the hobbyist photographer who is passionate about the craft will enjoy what this camera can do. There has been a lot of wrongful bashing of the Canon EOS R5 on the web. And in this review, we’re going to talk to the practicality of it all. Note that before you go on, we’re not sensationalizing things just for clicks. If you’re a shooter that left Canon for another system, we’re probably going to tell you a few things you don’t want to hear. So, please keep your superiority complexes in check.

Continue reading…

10 Prime Lenses for Sony That Will Amaze (They’re Under $600 Too)

These bargain-priced prime lenses are so good, they’ll never leave your camera.

Lenses can be expensive, but you don’t have to spend a fortune to get great ones. Sony shooters have been blessed with tremendous support from third parties – manufacturers like Rokinon, Tamron, Sigma, and more. The best part is that the super-sharp prime lenses we’ll share cost much less than you think. In this roundup, you’ll find ten prime lenses that will blow your socks off with their performance. How these lenses sell for under $600 each is beyond me, but they do, and you can reap the rewards they give.

Continue reading…

How to Get That Beautiful Pastel Look from Your Fujifilm Camera

Every photographer loves the Pastel look: here’s how to get it.

We get it–you’re one of those photographers who love the film look, but you don’t want to shoot film. First off, I’ll be the first to tell you that shooting film is about much more than just the final image. But, if you’re looking to get only that same quality, it’s a bit tricky. A part of it is done to taste, but we know how to get you there pretty much 90% of the way. This method works no matter what Fujifilm camera you’re using. However, you’re going to get better results with the later sensor offerings. But if you’re looking to have that beautiful pastel look in your photos, then read on.

Continue reading…

APS-C Cameras Win Big Over Full Frame Models in August

People talk about Full Frame cameras a lot, but APS-C cameras continue to outsell them according to our readers.

Lots of new cameras and lenses found new homes during August. Over the last several months, we’ve seen small sensor cameras outsell Full-Frame models by a large margin. This month, APS-C cameras have been most popular with our readers again, especially the Fujifilm variety. With the X-T3 coming in at just $999 right now, we expected nothing less. Prime lenses have also been popular with our readers during August. After the break, we’ve listed the ten most popular items with our readers.

Continue reading…

Why It’s Important to Learn How to Read Your Camera’s Light Meter

Understanding what your light meter is trying to tell you plays a critical role in your ability to create properly exposed images.

Light meters are designed to measure the amount of light available in a scene. In photography, they are used to determine the appropriate aperture and shutter speed required to properly expose an image. Back in the film days, not many cameras came with a light meter built-in. Photographers had to rely on external light meters to accurately determine the proper exposure. As time went on, camera manufacturers began incorporating light meters into their camera bodies. This made it much easier for photographers to expose their images properly. Fast forward to today, just about every commercially available digital camera has a light meter built-in. They play an essential role in your camera’s ability to create properly exposed images. There will be times when you may want to ignore what your light meter is telling you for creative or other reasons. To do that, however, requires that you understand what the camera’s light meter is telling you. Let’s dive into it.

Continue reading…

Great for a Sony a7 Series Camera: Samyang 45mm F1.8 Review

The Samyang 45mm f1.8 lens provides a unique experience for the Sony a7 camera system.

Contrast–that’s one of the things I think of when we talk about Samyang lenses. The Samyang 45mm f1.8 is no exception here. For a super affordable price point, you’re getting character in a lens. It doesn’t have some of the features that licensed companies have, but with the addition of the Samyang Lens Dock, you can make your own additions and adjustments. If you’re a hobbyist, you’re going to love this lens. Most of those folks care just about image quality, bokeh, and having a fast aperture. In fact, this is the closest thing to an alternative nifty 50 on Sony. If you want something in between a 35mm and 50mm field of view, the Samyang 45mm f1.8 could be exactly what you’re looking for.

Continue reading…