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07-07-2009, 12:48 PM   #1
philbaum's Avatar

Join Date: Oct 2007
Location: Port Townsend, Washington State, USA
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Metering - an exercise in 3 modes

Pardon me if i'm covering pretty basic stuff but i needed to learn this. If you have tips or corrections for this exercise, please discuss.


I kept reading the odd comment about metering in various threads. so yesterday i checked my K20 instruction book about metering, and it said to select one of 3 modes. Thats it, not much in the way of instruction or tips.

So this is an exercise i used to teach myself about using my DSLR as a meter:

Note: DSLRs use metering to select exposure settings for our cameras, but metering as a subject itself seems to be not emphasized in its readouts from the camera's information screens, IMHO.

A. Preliminary Settings:
1. Extend hood of lens, if you have one

2. Place Exposure mode in AV. Place Line 5 in custom menu at 30 sec. meter time.

3. Dial in an Aperture of f8 and leave it alone. Increase or decrease aperture setting only as necessary to stop blinking of the shutter values (which indicates excessive or insufficient light at that ISO, which will disrupt comparing relative shutter values if you leave it that way)

4. Set ISO to Manual 1600 on K10 or Manual 3200 for K20. (this exercise is not about taking a quality image but just observing the camera meter in operation)

B. First Exercise
Indoors - Walk up to 3 different objects, with varied lighting, in sequence. At each object, switch the metering mode from Spot, center weighted, and multi-sector. For this exercise, the aperture in the shoulder LCD should remain constant while the shutter value will vary according to the object. If one is within a few feet of an object, you will likely not see much variation between the readings of metering modes spot, center weighted or multi-sector.

Note: once you start switching between metering modes- don't switch ISO or aperture values, otherwise it invalidates the relative shutter values in the LCD screen.

Second Exercise

Go outside during daylight - Select an area with 3 levels of lighting, perhaps a shaded ground area, a lighter ground area and an even lighter sky. With constant aperture, ISO and in AV mode, point the camera lens to each of these different shades of light and note the shutter value for each. If you were to take a picture of this area, which shutter value would you select for a landscape image?

For example: in my shaded area-i got 1/180, in the lighter ground area- i got 1/500, and in the sky i got 1/2000. Now using the aperture/shutter value for the shaded area, switch the exposure mode to MANUAL and enter your aperture/shutter value for the shaded area while overlapping the lense frame to cover the shaded area and the lighter colored ground or sky, if possible. Take a picture. looking at the picture on the LCD, you should be able to see a correctly exposed shaded area and an over-exposed lighter ground area or sky.(if in frame)

Congratulations!!! You were able to use you camera as a meter and manually take those meter values and put them in the camera, thus inserting yourself between the meter and the usually automatic settings for the image.

1. All exposure modes are not as instructive when metering the image, e.g. if you have the camera in Green or Program modes, and attempt to meter a subject, the aperture and shutter values are both jumping around in values. At least in AV mode, the aperture stays the same, and you can tell from the changing shutter value which object is brighter or darker.

2. Up to this point in my personal photography, I have been using the green button in either TAV or M mode to suggest an exposure starting point for the whole image. This leads to a lot of shot taking as i refine the selection of exposure settings for a subject. Metering the subject prior to the picture taking can reduce the number of images taken, and reduce processing labor. Also it leads to a better dynamic range understanding of the components of any image.

3. In general, the results from metering modes spot, center, and multi sector (when in some proximity to the subject) were more consistent than i imagined. The instruction booklet said that multi-sector is more useful when backlit subjects are encountered. I now have a better understanding of what that means in terms of meter values.

4. I'm soon going to move my Katz Eye focus screen from my K10 to the K20 which means i will lose spot metering in the K20. I think in most, but not all cases i will be able to substitute center weighted results for spot metering. I dislike losing spot metering, but i also like the katz eye screen - can't have both.

Best wishes,

Last edited by philbaum; 07-07-2009 at 02:42 PM.
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