Understanding Camera Metering – Best Metering Mode for Video Exposure (Evaluative, Center, or Spot)

Have you ever been out filming and got footage
that you new was just gonna look awesome. You thought you had the exposure nailed, and
you get home, upload all the footage and find it looks like this. Well, your exposure meter may not be telling
you exactly what you think it is. Hey everyone, Camber here with you and today
we are talking about controlling the exposure of your scenes with various types of metering. And if you’re new here, this channel is all
about teaching you how to use your camera to make good videos. So if that’s you, consider subscribing. So DSLRs have light meters built into them
that automatically measures the reflected light and determines what the best exposure
is for your images. And there are various metering modes that
your camera will use to determine this optimal exposure; and these are evaluative metering,
center-weighted metering, and spot metering. And there are other variations that different
cameras do offer, but we’re gonna just cover these main three that most cameras have. But first you’ll want to be in manual mode. The light meter is useful when you’re doing
other modes such as aperture priority, shutter priority, or program mode; however, you almost
always want to retain control over all your settings in video for stylistic reasons. So you’ll need to be in manual mode. So, taking a look inside of the viewfinder,
you can see the metering scale displayed by a “0” in the middle with bars going left and
right to a “1” and “2” on each side of the “0.” Each of these numbers represents a “stop of
light,” and the metering scale is typically based on one-third increments of these stops
of light. So, if you point your camera at a bright area,
the bars will go to the “+” side indicating that there is too much light for the current
exposure setting. If you point your camera at a very dark area,
the bars will go to the “-” side indicating that there is not enough light. So you would then have to change your camera
settings in aperture, shutter speed, or ISO accordingly in order to achieve the “0” which
is the optimal exposure based on your camera meter. And these camera meters work great when scenes
are evenly lit, however it can become problematic and challenging for your meter to determine
proper exposure when there is various objects with different light levels and intensities
in your image. So for example, looking at someone with the
sun behind them, there will be very large differences in brightness between your subject
and the sun; and the picture will look very different based on if you’re exposing for
the subject or for the background. And this is where the various types of metering
come into play. Evaluative metering is the default mode on most
DSLRs, and this is also known as matrix metering or multi-metering depending on your camera’s
manufacturer. But they all work in the same way by dividing
the frame up into multiple zones and then analyzing them for light and dark tones. And one of the key factors that your metering
system takes into account during evaluative metering is where your focus point is set
to. So after looking at all these different zones
and figuring out an average among them, your camera looks at where your focus point is set and
marks that zone as more important than the rest. Evaluative metering works well with scenes
that are evenly lit, and you can typically use it as a “go-to” method for getting your
shots. If you leave your camera in this mode, you’ll
find out pretty quickly how your exposures will turn out in a variety of settings. Next up is center-weighted metering, and this
mode measures the light in the center of your frame with its surroundings and ignores the
corners. Compared with evaluative metering, center-weighted
metering does not take into account where your focus point is set but rather only evaluates
that middle area of your image. And on many higher-end DSLRs you can actually
change the diameter of your center-weighted area. A good use for this mode would be a scene
where you want your primary subject to be correctly exposed while the rest of the image
can generally be ignored for proper exposure. And the final mode is spot metering, which
will give you the most precise and accurate exposure control over your image because it
will only evaluate the light around the point you choose while ignoring everything else. If you were getting a shot of a person with
sun behind them but they occupied a small part of the frame, it’s best to use the spot
metering mode because when your subjects don’t take up much of the space, using evaluative
or center-weighted metering would most likely result in a silhouette. Another option that some cameras offer to
help with determining exposure are zebras, which are hashed lines that show up in any
part of your scene that is overexposed. I find this mode very useful when I’m shooting
weddings and don’t have time to be switching back and forth between all my metering modes. I’ll just click on the zebras, and then I
can see which part of the frame is overexposed to make sure that I’m not overexposing skin. So try out the different types of metering
in various settings, and see which ones work best for you in different circumstances. Learn your camera well so you can make sure
that you get your exposure right every time because proper exposure is crucial to getting
good footage. And that’s all I got for metering so if this
video was helpful, hit that “Like” button and let me know down below if you have any
more questions about metering. Hit that subscribe button if you haven’t and
remember that the only way to get better at something is to practice. So get out there and film something. See ya soon.

13 thoughts on “Understanding Camera Metering – Best Metering Mode for Video Exposure (Evaluative, Center, or Spot)

  1. Thank you Mr camber motion, you are great. I’m a real novice and I’ve just brought an Order 4k DVC which I’m learning on, then I intend getting a more advanced camera. I’ve found out that I have to upgrade my Macbook, which is ancient before I can download and edit, so you won’t be hearing from me again for a week or two, but I do want to say how much I appreciate your tutorials. They are really useful, thank you.

  2. Appreciate this! I have the Sony a7 III and so many times my shot looks great but my exposure meter is saying it's blown out or underexposed. I'm going to try spot metering from now on.

  3. Very helpful presentation. Shortly I will be joining some phtog friends to shoot 4th of July fireworks. Any tips in this regard ? Thanks

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