Understanding Metering and Metering Modes

What is Metering?

Metering is how your camera evaluates the light of a scene to determine the correct shutter speed, aperture, or ISO. Back in the old days of photography, cameras were not equipped with a light “meter”, which is a sensor that measures the amount and intensity of light. Photographers had to use hand-held light meters to determine the optimal exposure. Obviously, because the work was shot on film, they could not preview or see the results immediately, which is why they religiously relied on those light meters.

Today, every digital camera has an integrated light meter that automatically measures the reflected light and determines the optimal exposure. The most common metering modes in digital cameras today are:

  1. Matrix Metering (Nikon), also known as Evaluative Metering (Canon)
  2. Center-weighted Metering
  3. Spot Metering
  4. Highlight-weighted Metering