The way your camera detects the brightness of the scene you’re shooting affects the exposure setting it picks. But did you know there are four photometry modes available to X Series users? And each of them does things in a slightly different way.
When you point your X Series camera at something you want to photograph, it assesses the brightness of the scene in front of you with its photometry exposure metering system. In an automatic or semi-automatic shooting mode, this information is used to set aperture, shutter speed, or ISO sensitivity. If you are working manually, the camera uses the data to tell you how far your settings are from its own recommendations.
Exposure metering can be set to different modes, each of which causes your camera to look at the scene in front of it in a slightly different way. Do this either with the dedicated photometry exposure metering control if your camera has one, or in the photometry menu.
Let’s take a look at how each exposure metering mode works, and what it can be used for.
By default, your camera looks at each scene using its multi-pattern exposure metering. This splits up the scene into 256 separate zones so the camera can recognize tricky scenarios, such as back-lit subjects. It’s very effective for most of the shooting scenarios you are likely to encounter, but your camera can sometimes be fooled into under- or overexposing by a predominance of white or black in the frame.
The spot metering mode lets you take an exposure reading selectively from just a small part of the frame, roughly about 2% of the total frame area. This is a great way to work when the main subject – for which an accurate exposure is required – is surrounded by something that would otherwise confuse the metering system, such as a predominance of dark or bright tones.
Spot metering is very useful when shooting a back-lit portrait: the bright light coming from behind the subject can easily cause underexposure, which turns your subject into a silhouette. Taking a spot reading from the subject ensures they are the only thing influencing exposure.
As the name implies, the average metering pattern takes a reading from all over the frame, giving equal weighting to all areas. There aren’t too many instances where you need to use average metering, since multi mode gets less confused in tricky conditions, but it can be useful when you need consistent shot-to-shot exposures and there are moving objects in the frame.
Like average metering, the camera meters from the whole frame, but places more emphasis on the center, with the assumption this is probably where the main subject lies. This is quite an assumption! So, the center-weighted metering mode is probably the least used out of the four available.
Linking Spot Metering and AF
By default, spot metering measures light from a small 2% area in the middle of the frame. But you can link this to the current AF point instead, so exposure and focus are both measured from the same place. This is really useful for photographing off-center subjects.
Turn the linking on in the AF/MF SETTING > INTERLINK SPOT AE & FOCUS AREA menu. And note this only works when shooting in Single Point AF mode and when using spot photometry.
Your Next Steps
- CHALLENGE Shoot a back-lit portrait, positioning your subject in front of the light. Switch your camera to spot metering and take a reading from your subject’s face in order to get a good exposure. Post your results to social media with the hashtag #MyFujifilmLegacy. You can also submit your work here for a chance to be featured on our social media channels.
- WATCH Check out our video below to learn more about photometry and metering.