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…

Why Are Compact Cameras the Best for Street Photography?

For most, compact cameras happen to be the best things for street photography.

While the answer to “What camera is the best?” is the proverbial “The one you have with you,” some cameras are better suited than others for specific genres of photography. For example, if you wanted to freeze the action at the Daytona 500, you would reach for a Canon 1DX instead of a Pentax 67, just like if you wanted close-up images of Aunt Pearl’s Poinsettias, one of the last lenses you would reach for is a 28mm. Street photography is one of the easiest genres of the craft to get into, and everything from the cameras in phones to 4×5 press cameras has been used for it. But, while the genre is easily accessible, certain kinds of cameras are more appropriate for the task than others. Let’s take a look at why compact cameras are the best cameras for street photography.

Continue reading…

Review: Panasonic S1 (The Camera That Gives L Mount Hope)

The Panasonic S1 is a great camera that almost got everything right.

When the Panasonic S1 was announced, I’ll admit that I took far less interest in it than I did the S1R. I personally need more color depth, and the lower megapixel sensors just don’t do it for me. But after using it, the Panasonic S1 surprised me. Not only is it a capable camera, but it’s gotten better with firmware updates. The firmware updates are enough to make me hope it’s going to dramatically improve. And by all means, this is a great camera. But there’s an elephant in the room in the form of its chunky body.

Continue reading…

Photography Cheat Sheet: Quick Exposure Compensation Guide

Not quite sure yet how exposure compensation works? We have just the cheat sheet that will serve as your quick guide.

Exposure compensation is among the nifty tools you have at your disposal to ensure properly-exposed photos and give the results you want. So, it definitely pays to know how it works. If you’ve yet to master it, today’s featured photography cheat sheet has everything you need to know to get the hang of exposure compensation on your next shoot.

Continue reading…

The New Canon 1DX Mk III Could Hint at the Next EOS R’s Features

The Canon 1DX Mk III packs a lot of cool features, and we hope that they’ll be in Canon’s Pro-Grade EOS R camera.

“That’s a great question,” was our Canon rep’s reply when we asked about the new flash modes on the Canon 1Dx Mk III. When doing TTL, the flash settings can be configured to give more priority to ambient light or the flash itself with a selection of the menu. This is only one of the new features on the Canon 1DX Mk III. To be honest, a lot of them seem to be centered around the autofocus abilities of the camera while shooting in Live View. It’s for just that reason that we think the Canon 1Dx Mk III is going to hint at what’s coming with a new Canon EOS R.

Continue reading…

Photography Cheat Sheet: Mastering Exposure for Macro Photos

Struggling to get your exposure right when shooting macro? Today’s photography cheat sheet shows how to master exposure through the histogram.

As with any kind of photography, macro photography can benefit considerably from histogram readings. This tool will let you evaluate your exposure more accurately than you would from checking your camera screen. If you’ve yet to master using the histogram for macro shots, we have just the photography cheat sheet to get you started.

Continue reading…

10 Most Popular Pieces of Photography Gear Among Our Readers in 2019

There are a couple of surprises in the top 10 pieces of photography gear our readers purchased this year.

2019 has been an excellent year for those who love seeing new photography gear hit the streets. There have been many pieces of photography gear that have warmed our hearts in 2019, including the excellent Fujifilm X-Pro 3, and Sony’s Megapixel monster – the A7R IV. These two cameras made the top 10 list, as you would expect, but they are joined by other photography gear that may surprise you. Join us after the break to see what cameras, lenses, and lights were popular among our readers in 2019.

Continue reading…

Which Canon Camera Is Right for You? The Answers Are Clear Now

Canon cameras - Eos RP

There are Canon cameras for every type of photographer, and this roundup will make it easy to see which one is right for you.

Canon has been in the camera making business for a very long time. Because of this, they have a strong lineup of cameras that suit many different types of photographers. In this roundup, we will take a quick look at which Canon cameras are the best for different kinds of photographers, and we’ll see which lens pairs up perfectly with each Canon camera.

Continue reading…

Film Photography Tip: How to Meter for Best Exposures

Been wondering how to properly meter for film photography? This quick video has the answers. 

One of the aspects you’ll encounter as you get further into film photography is metering. It can be intimidating or confusing, but it pays to learn how to meter different scenes and work with either your camera’s built-in meter or a handheld light meter. In today’s featured video by Ohio-based Matt Day, he has partnered with The Darkroom Photo Lab to provide the important information we need to achieve well exposed film photos.

Continue reading…

7 Instant Film Polaroid-Style Cameras for Your New Year’s Eve Party Fun!

Leave your expensive camera in the safety of your home this New Year’s Eve and take one of these instant cameras with you instead.

Instant cameras are fun to use, and because of this, they’re the perfect companion for photographers who don’t want to take their expensive cameras with them out on the town or to parties. Instant cameras are easy to use, and they can help you capture candid moments with your friends and family. Seeing as they are so affordable, you won’t mind passing it around your group so that everyone can capture fun moments. In this roundup, we will take a quick look at seven incredibly fun, easy to use instant cameras that will help you remember your New Year’s Eve party.

Continue reading…