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  • Writer's pictureIan Miller

Evaluative Metering

Evaluative metering is a technique that helps you to get the correct exposure for your photos. It is also known as matrix metering or multi-segment metering. In this blog post, I will explain what evaluative metering is, how it works, and when to use it.

What is evaluative metering?

Evaluative metering is a mode that divides the scene into several zones or segments and measures the brightness of each one. Then, it compares the readings with a database of typical scenes and calculates the optimal exposure based on the overall tonal balance. Evaluative metering is the default mode on most cameras and it works well for most situations, especially when the lighting is even or balanced.

How does evaluative metering work?

Evaluative metering uses a sophisticated algorithm that takes into account various factors, such as the focus point, the subject distance, the colour, the contrast, and the backlighting of the scene. Depending on the camera model, evaluative metering may use different numbers of zones or segments to analyze the scene. For example, some Canon EOS cameras use 63 zones, while some Nikon cameras use 180K pixels. The more zones or pixels, the more accurate the metering can be.

When you use evaluative metering, you can see a small circle in the centre of your viewfinder or LCD screen. This circle indicates the area where the camera gives priority to the exposure. If you use autofocus, this circle will coincide with your focus point. If you use manual focus, you can move this circle around by using the directional buttons on your camera. The camera will adjust the exposure based on this circle and the surrounding zones.

When to use evaluative metering?

Evaluative metering is a versatile and reliable mode that can handle most lighting situations. You can use it when you want to capture the overall mood and tone of a scene without worrying too much about specific details. Evaluative metering is ideal for:

- Landscapes

- Portraits

- Street photography

- Wildlife

- Sports

- Events

However, evaluative metering may not work well when there are extreme contrasts or bright highlights in the scene. For example, if you are shooting a backlit subject, a snowy scene, or a sunset, evaluative metering may underexpose or overexpose your image. In these cases, you may need to use exposure compensation or switch to a different metering mode, such as spot metering or centre-weighted metering.


Evaluative metering is a smart and convenient mode that helps you get the right exposure for most scenes. It divides the scene into several zones and compares them with a database of typical scenes to calculate the optimal exposure. Evaluative metering works well when the lighting is even or balanced, but it may fail when there are extreme contrasts or bright highlights in the scene. You can use evaluative metering for various types of photography, such as landscapes, portraits, street photography, wildlife, sports, and events.

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