Metering for different parts of a shot

Discussion in 'Photography Beginners' Forum' started by GeorgeUK, Oct 19, 2008.

  1. GeorgeUK

    GeorgeUK TPF Noob!

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    I understand the concept of evaluative, partial and spot metering but often in posts I see people being advised to 'meter for the sky' or 'meter for the foreground'.

    How does one actually do this?

    Partial and spot metering are in the centre of the viewfinder afaik. If I focus on one of the other 8 AF points, will the camera switch the sport metering to that area or is it always constantly in the centre?

    Any help very much appreciated :)
     
  2. Overread

    Overread has a hat around here somewhere Staff Member Supporting Member

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    most people just stick with the centre point - aim the camera at the point they want to meter for - make a mental note of the settings the camera suggests. Then they return the camera to the position that they want the shot taken from and switch to manual mode and plug in the suggested settings (and make any alterations that they feel are needed to the suggested settings to get their desired effect)
     
  3. ksmattfish

    ksmattfish Now 100% DC - not as cool as I once was, but still

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    The metering locations can't be changed in any camera that I'm aware of just yet, although it would be cool to be able to switch the spot meter around like AF points.

    Beyond putting the camera in manual, almost all of them have some sort of meter lock button. This can be a pain in the but if it's also the focus lock button (like compacts and the default setting of DSLRs). Most DSLRs allow you to separate the AF lock and the meter lock somewhere in the custom functions.

    "Metering" is a pretty vague term. You should probably ask for further clarification. Some folks mean they are pointing the camera at an area of the scene, and using the meter suggested settings. When I'm metering parts of the scene I'm usually comparing the difference in stops between important shadow detail and important highlight detail to come up with an exposure/processing plan.

    http://www.cambridgeincolour.com/tutorials/camera-metering.htm

    If you really want to understand how to use the meter to understand tonal relationships check out the zone system. Most of the writings on the zone system are oriented towards BW film, but search for something like "simple zone system" or "zone system for digital". The zone system can get complicated in the BW darkroom, but the basic concepts are easy, and will help a lot for measuring, visualizing, and understanding tonal relationships.
     
  4. mrodgers

    mrodgers No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    To me, this is almost exactly as I take it and what I do. Except for the "take a mental note" part. I already have the camera in manual mode and set my settings pointing it to the sky, the grass, the palm of my hand, or whatever it needs to be.

    The reason for me doing this is what ksmattfish explains, the exposure lock or meter lock. I don't have that, or have it separate. It is part of my half press shutter along with the focus. So, I meter for whatever in manual mode, set the aperture/shutter then, move back to the shot, select my focus point, focus, recompose, and shoot.

    The benefit of metering like that in my eyes is, I shoot my kids all the time out playing in the yard. I can leave the camera alone and just worry about the shot for most of the day without worrying about the exposure. I would recheck the exposure now and then as the sun moved through the sky, but it's not like all the time.
     
  5. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Some cameras use the active AF point for spot metering, some (most) always use the center AF point.
     
  6. GeorgeUK

    GeorgeUK TPF Noob!

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    Thanks for the advice all, now I understand :)

    So get the meter reading, am I right in suggesting I need to 'half depress' the shutter button?
     
  7. Josh66

    Josh66 Been spending a lot of time on here!

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    Yes. Check your manual too though - you can usually assign that to another button if you want to.

    Why would you want to?
    Lets say you want to focus on one area, but expose for another area. If exposure lock and focus lock are the same button this would be a little tricky.
    (What I usually do in this case is focus, switch the lens to manual focus, then meter.)
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2008

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