Photography Tutorials and Articles

Cameras Average Metering Mode

How to Use Cameras Average Metering Mode

Almost all new digital cameras have sophisticated metering systems. In this article, I am going to look into the Average Metering Mode.

What is Average Metering Mode

Camera manufacturers use different names for Average Metering; Nikon calls it “Matrix,” Canon names it “Evaluative,” Sony calls it “Multi,” Etc. After all, “Average Metering” works the same in all different makes. However, the algorithm of each brand is slightly different.

Generally speaking, in Average metering, the camera divides the scene into many sections and measures the exposure for each segment individually. Then the camera makes an average exposure for the whole scene.

When to Use Average Mode

¬†As a rule of thumb, you should use Average mode whenever everything in the scene is equally important. For instance, usually, in “Landscape Photography,” all elements in the frame are similarly significant. Therefore, Average Mode meters the exposure for each item and creates an overall correct exposure. Here is an example:¬†

Average Metering Mode

average metering mode
Average metering mode for Landscape photography. Photo credit to Martin Santos

Camera manufacturers usually use the Average mode as their cameras default metering mode. As a matter of fact, in most cases, this is not the wrong choice. However, if part of the scene or a particular item is the critical element of your picture, you need to consider to switch to Spot or Centre-Weighted metering mode. Here are some samples:

Average Metering Mode

average metering mode
Average Metering captured and average image!

Spot Metering Mode

Spot metering made the exposure just for the leaves
Spot metering made the exposure just for the leaves

When to avoid Average Metering

Generally speaking, Average Metering is not suggested in a contrasty scene, such as beach or snow landscape. In such situations, it is better to use Spot or Center-Weighted metering instead.

Another common scenario is the backlit subjects. For the Backlit scenes, you shouldn’t use the Average mode.

The picture below is a good example.

When Average Mode goes wrong!

Photography in snow
The brightness of snow may cause underexposed images when using Average mode in snow scene

Do you want to learn more?

I dedicate a good portion of our digital camera workshops to discuss Exposure. Digital Photography Bootcamp is one of our most popular photography courses, and I explain the Metering Modes in depth in this class. Check the link below for upcoming classes.

The next Bootcamp starts on February 3, 2022. There are a few spots left.

Suppose you just got your first digital SLR camera or even have had it for several months. In that case, Omnilargess Digital Photography Bootcamp will equip you with all the techniques that you need to operate your digital camera at its ultimate performance. In this workshop, you will learn how to use different settings, such as Shutter Priority, Aperture Priority, different Metering Modes, White Balance, ISO, etc.

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Ted and the Omnilargess Team