Smart & Connected Life Travel Tech Tips for Using Exposure Metering Modes By Jo Plumridge Writer Former Lifewire writer Jo Plumridge is a photography professional and writer for photography and travel venues such as BBC, Digital Camera Magazine, and Saga Magazine. our editorial process Twitter Jo Plumridge Updated March 22, 2019 freemixer/Getty Images Travel Tech Digital Cameras & Photography Tips for Mobile Photography Tweet Share Email The metering modes in DSLR cameras are designed to give the photographer more control over the exposure meter reading. To use a DSLR to its fullest potential, it is important to understand how each of these modes measures the amount of light in a scene. Automatic exposure is a feature on all DSLRs, but you can also select from different metering modes to fine-tune your exposures. Depending on the camera manufacturer and model, there will be three or four metering modes to select from and they are each explained below. Evaluative or Matrix Metering Evaluative (or matrix) metering is the most complex mode and it offers the best exposure for most scenes. Essentially, the camera divides the scene into a matrix of metering zones and takes individual readings for each section. An evaluative meter reading is then diagnosed and an average is used for the entire scene. What We Like Very easy to use Good for landscapes, group photographs and other scenes with a lot of details What We Don't Like This mode is not great for scenes with strong light or a lot of shadows as parts of the photo may end up over or underexposed The camera will struggle to meter for a small subject Center-Weighted or Average Metering Center-weighted (or average) metering is the most common metering mode. It is also the default option for cameras that do not have metering mode options. In this mode, the exposure is averaged from the entire scene though it does give extra priority (or 'weight') to the center area. What We Like Ideal for photographing people or objects in the center of a landscape or scene as it will meter for them rather than the background Good for portraits as it exposes for the subject and not the background What We Don't Like Not a good choice if your subject or object is not in the center of the frame Not great for head-and-shoulder shots that fill the frame. It will meter for the center of the face and the outer areas could be over or underexposed Spot or Partial Metering Some DSLRs have both spot and partial metering modes. Other cameras may have only one of them and still, other cameras have neither. These metering modes are used for very specific purposes. Spot metering meters for the center 5% of the image. Partial metering meters for the center 15% of the image. In both cases, the rest of the exposure is ignored. What We Like Great for macro and still life work because it allows for very precise metering on small objects Good for photographs that are brightly backlit because it helps avoid silhouetting of the subject What We Don't Like Requires extremely careful use and is time-consuming. Patience is required to get the ideal shot! Limited uses, and it is only really required for specialist photography.