Skip to main content

Canon metering modes: how to get perfectly exposed images in any situation

Canon metering modes: how to use Spot and Partial metering

Spot and Partial metering enable you to take targeted exposure readings of a subject. This is useful if you're photographing a small-in-the-frame subject against a very bright or dark background.

Simply point the lens so the centre AF point is positioned over the subject, dab the shutter release to activate the meter and then press the AE (Auto Exposure) Lock button to keep that exposure setting locked in - you're then free to re-frame the shot for the best composition.

Partial is the easiest of the two metering modes to work with, as it meters from a slightly larger area and doesn't require such pin-point precision as Spot metering.

Problem: Taking a reading from a dark subject makes the picture too bright
Better: Dial in negative compensation, or Spot-meter a midtone instead

SEE MORE: First camera crash course - simple solutions for mastering your new DSLR

Problem: Taking a reading from a white or bright subject makes the picture appear too dark
Better: Dial in positive compensation, or Spot meter a midtone instead

Problem: None - the exposure appears almost 'spot on'
Better: Dialling in 1/3 to 2/3 negative exposure compensation can preserve delicate highlight detail

Canon metering modes: 1. Learn the basics and tackle midtones
Canon metering modes: 2. How to meter in Live View
Canon metering modes: 3. How to use Spot and Partial metering

READ MORE

Beginner photography tips: the most common mistakes and how to avoid them
What is aperture: everything you need to know about controlling light creatively
How to take good photos: 10 simple ways to boost your hit rate
10 common exposure problems every photographer faces (and how to fix them)