3 Kinds of Metering Systems on Digital Cameras

Most digital cameras give you three options to choose your metering systems from. All of these are reflective, but each has a unique pattern of attention.

1. Spot Meter

A spot meter uses a very small area of the frame to take a reading from. Some cameras allow you to move the spot around the frame, but most just leave it right in the center. This type of meter is useful for an experienced photographer who keeps tight tabs on every aspect of the frame.

2. Center-Weighted Meter

A center-weighted meter measures a much larger area than a spot meter, but focuses most of its attention on the center of the frame. It continues to take into account information towards the edges, but with less weight. This metering method works for simple photography, but can betray you if you are in a high contrast area.

3. Matrix Meters

Matrix meters are the most modern of the three. The camera divides the frame into zones, takes light information from some of them, and calculates a reading from the combination. Many cameras use this as the default setting, but it is hard to know exactly what each individual camera is going to make its judgements off of.

Finding the meter that best suits you will take some experimentation. Remember that each has its own personality.


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