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Author Topic: When do you use spot metering?  (Read 11760 times)

JR

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When do you use spot metering?
« on: July 22, 2012, 07:27:09 AM »
I am curious to learn for what situation people use spot metering.  In particular, since i do mostly portrait, do any of you use it for portrait when shooting without a flash?

I usually do not play with metering myself but by mistake i took a few portraits with spot metering inside without flash and actually found the skin tone better this way.  Just not sure if i risk overexposing too much other part of the picture if i use this consistently...

Thank you for your insights...
« Last Edit: July 22, 2012, 07:47:26 AM by JR »
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When do you use spot metering?
« on: July 22, 2012, 07:27:09 AM »

ruuneos

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #1 on: July 22, 2012, 09:59:27 AM »
I like to use spot metering when taking macro's and want nice dark background.

paul13walnut5

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2012, 10:19:27 AM »
Quote
I usually do not play with metering myself but by mistake i took a few portraits with spot metering inside without flash and actually found the skin tone better this way.  Just not sure if i risk overexposing too much other part of the picture if i use this consistently...

Thats exactly the situation where spot metering comes into it's own.   However it sounds like you have been lucky with the correct rendition of the skin tone.   I would use spot metering in conjunction with exposure compensation.
If you take it that the camera meter is calibrated for 18% grey then you may need to shift the metering by a stop or so either way depending on your subject.

Don't worry so much about over or under exposing other areas.  Meter for whats important and let the rest fall into place.  If you have people who are very pale, or people who are very dark then you will need to compensate from what the meter gives you, as it may try to render very dark or very white skins as midtones, which would be wrong for the subject and wrong for everything else as well.

The great thing with DSLRs is that you can preview or immediately check.  Have an assistant stand under the same light source, take a few test shots.  I would even be tempted to use manual exposure...  once you've set it up for the light it will be right for all your subjects of any colour or hue, provided the light is uniform.

And bear in mind the meter can help, but it can also be wrong. Especially if your subject is far removed from midtone.

jabbott

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #3 on: July 22, 2012, 12:38:09 PM »
I use spot metering for photographing singers at a concert, or for photographing high contrast objects such as the moon.  Although lately I have found myself increasingly using manual mode for times when lighting is tricky, as well as reviewing the histogram afterwards to ensure proper exposure.

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #4 on: July 22, 2012, 01:29:33 PM »
I used it heavily yesterday at an air show with cloudy to sunny skies, where otherwise I was getting great skies and heavily shadowed jets when using the default Evaluative. Was definitely tricky to use though when you're tracking military fighter jets up close and only that center dot.
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pdirestajr

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #5 on: July 22, 2012, 02:04:56 PM »
I'd like to expand on the question:

How does one use spot metering in AI Servo mode when your focus point isn't center or linked to the meter.

I think my EOS-3 can meter at the focus point, but Canon took this feature away from most digital cameras for some reason...
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paul13walnut5

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 02:21:30 PM »
@pdirstajr

Position the spot meter then use ae lock?  You can vary the length of ae lock hold in the menu / cf of most eos dslrs.

Once you've activated ae lock a * appears in vf for 16 seconds.   This is actually quite a long time for action subjects.

I miss that from the 3, but I'm often in the habit of using the centre af point selected with aiservo anyway, as on the eos cameras i've owned this is usually the most sophisticated (only cross point on my t3i, only dual axis cross point -conventional and diagonal- on my 7d) and if you use f2.8s or faster lenses (like my ring type usms the 70-200 and 100 f2) you get extra sensitivity.

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #6 on: July 22, 2012, 02:21:30 PM »

bdunbar79

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #7 on: July 22, 2012, 02:25:52 PM »
I'd like to expand on the question:

How does one use spot metering in AI Servo mode when your focus point isn't center or linked to the meter.

I think my EOS-3 can meter at the focus point, but Canon took this feature away from most digital cameras for some reason...

You can't easily.  You have to buy a 1D or 1Ds body to do that.  Those are the only models that do active AF point spot metering.  It's quite a price premium I know, to get that feature. 

distant.star

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #8 on: July 22, 2012, 04:26:09 PM »

.
My preference is candid portrait so I'm either on "spot" or "partial" most of the time. I'm usually outside where circumstances can change radically from one shot to the next so I want control of exposure in the face area, which is where I focus and is what I want to show/see. Spot can sometimes be limiting for only the face area, so partial is generally my preference as it meters a slightly wider area that may account for contrast between hair, clothing, hats, etc.

As one person also mentioned, spot is good for macro when you don't want the background affecting the metering of the tiny thing you want to see.

Another situation is night shooting, especially when shooting lights. This meters only the bright light so the light comes out correctly as well as providing a faster shutter speed. This can be good for holiday lighting too.

As for the "skin tone" you mentioned, I don't see exposure affecting this much. And it's easily altered in post if you shoot RAW. More often, in my experience, skin tone is a matter of white balance. This is especially true with women wearing makeup. I've had difficulty with pictures of couples where you can adjust to make the man look good, but the women looks awful. If you make the woman look good, the man looks bad. That takes more than WB and exposure to get a good look.
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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #9 on: July 22, 2012, 04:27:03 PM »
I'd like to expand on the question:

How does one use spot metering in AI Servo mode when your focus point isn't center or linked to the meter.

I think my EOS-3 can meter at the focus point, but Canon took this feature away from most digital cameras for some reason...
I don't think the EOS 3 can do spot metering at the non-centre AF points, because I checked the manual for my EOS 1V and found that it can't - and they share the same AF system.
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JR

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #10 on: July 22, 2012, 08:46:23 PM »
Quote
I usually do not play with metering myself but by mistake i took a few portraits with spot metering inside without flash and actually found the skin tone better this way.  Just not sure if i risk overexposing too much other part of the picture if i use this consistently...

Thats exactly the situation where spot metering comes into it's own.   However it sounds like you have been lucky with the correct rendition of the skin tone.   I would use spot metering in conjunction with exposure compensation.
If you take it that the camera meter is calibrated for 18% grey then you may need to shift the metering by a stop or so either way depending on your subject.

Don't worry so much about over or under exposing other areas.  Meter for whats important and let the rest fall into place.  If you have people who are very pale, or people who are very dark then you will need to compensate from what the meter gives you, as it may try to render very dark or very white skins as midtones, which would be wrong for the subject and wrong for everything else as well.

The great thing with DSLRs is that you can preview or immediately check.  Have an assistant stand under the same light source, take a few test shots.  I would even be tempted to use manual exposure...  once you've set it up for the light it will be right for all your subjects of any colour or hue, provided the light is uniform.

And bear in mind the meter can help, but it can also be wrong. Especially if your subject is far removed from midtone.

Thanks!  Great feed-back...
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JR

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #11 on: July 22, 2012, 08:52:17 PM »

.
My preference is candid portrait so I'm either on "spot" or "partial" most of the time. I'm usually outside where circumstances can change radically from one shot to the next so I want control of exposure in the face area, which is where I focus and is what I want to show/see. Spot can sometimes be limiting for only the face area, so partial is generally my preference as it meters a slightly wider area that may account for contrast between hair, clothing, hats, etc.

As one person also mentioned, spot is good for macro when you don't want the background affecting the metering of the tiny thing you want to see.

Another situation is night shooting, especially when shooting lights. This meters only the bright light so the light comes out correctly as well as providing a faster shutter speed. This can be good for holiday lighting too.

As for the "skin tone" you mentioned, I don't see exposure affecting this much. And it's easily altered in post if you shoot RAW. More often, in my experience, skin tone is a matter of white balance. This is especially true with women wearing makeup. I've had difficulty with pictures of couples where you can adjust to make the man look good, but the women looks awful. If you make the woman look good, the man looks bad. That takes more than WB and exposure to get a good look.

This makes perfect sense!  I tried it tonight for some quick snapshot using spot because lighting was terrible.  Actually turned out pretty usable!  For those interested, this is an ISO 16,000 shot!

I will for sure practice more for sure and make sure to stop using the default metering settings!   :P
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Scott

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2012, 10:24:17 PM »
I use spot metering and AE lock when shooting directly into the sun or anytime i want a subject to be correctly exposed and don't care about the rest of the scene.


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When I shoot gigs, i use spot meter to meter the performer, then take those values and put the camera in manual mode and shoot away without having to worry about spinning stage lights throwing out my exposure. Works most of the time...

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #12 on: July 22, 2012, 10:24:17 PM »

wickidwombat

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #13 on: July 23, 2012, 01:18:31 AM »
i pretty much only use spot metering, i may change it to evaluative if im shooting some street stuff from the hip
but if i'm looking through the viewfinder i'm using spot metering
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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 10:58:14 AM »
Honestly, I don't really use them. I used them a lot while shooting film in the old days.

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Re: When do you use spot metering?
« Reply #14 on: July 24, 2012, 10:58:14 AM »