Photography cheat sheet: camera metering modes

Using the spot metering mode on a Canon camera to meter the scene
(Image credit: Future/Lauren Scott)

Measuring the brightness of the scene you are photographing is a crucial part of getting the right exposure for your pictures. Before you can start thinking about shutter speeds, apertures and exposure modes, you need to measure the brightness of the scene. This is where the camera's exposure meter comes in.

Your DSLR or mirrorless camera has a built-in meter, of course – but most cameras have three or four modes to choose from (a camera for beginners will likely do without the Spot metering option).

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Chris George

Chris George has worked on Digital Camera World since its launch in 2017. He has been writing about photography, mobile phones, video making and technology for over 30 years – and has edited numerous magazines including PhotoPlus, N-Photo, Digital Camera, Video Camera, and Professional Photography. 

His first serious camera was the iconic Olympus OM10, with which he won the title of Young Photographer of the Year - long before the advent of autofocus and memory cards. Today he uses a Nikon D800, a Fujifilm X-T1, a Sony A7, and his iPhone 15 Pro Max.

He has written about technology for countless publications and websites including The Sunday Times Magazine, The Daily Telegraph, Dorling Kindersley, What Cellphone, T3 and Techradar.

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