Evaluative Metering

The standard metering used by most photographers?

Evaluative Metering (Pink Area Below) - This is your cameras standard metering mode which most people use for most situations. It is well suited for most subjects including those that are backlit. It is basically just what your eyes do when looking at anything.

Evaluative Metering Illustration

The camera will assess the subject's position in the viewfinder.

Evaluative metering will record:

  • The brightness of the general scene
  • Front and rear lighting conditions
  • The orientation of the camera (horizontal or vertical)

It will then set the correct exposure based on all of this information and adhere it to the general 15-18 percent grey scale for metering and white balance. You sometimes see photographers with greyscale cards from which they like to meter for the perfect exposure and white balance.

For general photography using natural light, I use this setting the most. Knowing that I can tweak light and dark areas later on. I just let the camera record an average reading of the scene.

Be aware that any particularly bright or dark areas in the overall scene will affect the final metering. For example, even the sun reflecting from a car windscreen will cause your camera to underexpose the shot as it "squints" against the light and either closes the aperture or speeds up the shutter.

If you are in manual, take a reading away from the bright or dark areas to obtain a generally balanced exposure. Once the shot is taken, using RAW, you are able to fine tune the exposure using various sliders and adjustments.

However, you are also able to work on just the highlights and shadows respectively. This is great to achieve an overall, well exposed shot with good dynamic range (difference between dark and light areas) using evaluative metering.

Terminology for various camera brands:

  • Canon - Evaluative
  • Nikon - Matrix Metering
  • Sony - Evaluative
  • Others - Honeycomb, Segment, ESP (Electro Selective Pattern)
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