Various metering modes are provided to allow the user to select the most appropriate one for use in a variety of lighting conditions.
Another example of spot metering usage would be when photographing the moon. Due to the very dark nature of the scene, other metering methods tend to overexpose the moon. Spot metering will allow for more detail to be brought out in the moon while underexposing the rest of the scene.
This mode is also called matrix, evaluative, honeycomb, segment metering, or esp — (electro selective pattern) metering on some cameras. This metering mode was first introduced by the Nikon FA, where it was called Automatic Multi-Pattern metering. On a number of cameras this is the default/standard metering setting. Here the camera measures the light intensity in several points in the scene, and then combines the results to find the settings for the best exposure. How they are combined/calculated deviates from camera to camera. The actual number of zones used varies wildly, from several to over a thousand. However performance should not be concluded on the number of zones alone, or the layout. In general, the most advanced metering is found on single-lens reflex cameras.
Many manufacturers are less than open about the exact calculations used to determine the exposure. A number of factors are taken into consideration, including the following: Autofocus (AF) point, distance to subject, areas in focus or out of focus, colours/hues of the scene, and backlighting. Multi-zone tends to bias its exposure towards the autofocus point being used (whilst taking into account other areas of the frame too), thus ensuring that the point of interest has been exposed for properly. A database of many thousands of exposures is pre-stored in the camera, and the processor can use a selective pattern to determine what is being photographed.
Some cameras allow the user to link or unlink the autofocus and metering, and allow the option of locking exposure once AF confirmation is achieved, AEL, (auto-exposure lock). Using manual focus, and on many compacts/bridge cameras, the AF point is not used as part of the exposure calculation, in such instances it is common for the metering to default to a central point in the viewfinder, using a pattern based on that area. There is considerable variation from different manufacturers as to how multi-zone metering is implemented, and even from the same maker in their model range, and how much "priority" is given to the AF point itself. Some "Scene" modes, such as sunset, sports, night exposures etc, also often affect the calculations of this metering pattern.
However, some photographers may be uncomfortable with multi-zone metering. This tends to stem from a lack of clarity about "how" the camera reacts in certain situations. The design concept behind multi-zone is to reduce the need to use exposure compensation.
Some users have problems in wide-angle shots with high contrast, due to the large area which can vary greatly in brightness. It is important to understand that even in this situation, the focus point can be critical to the overall exposure.
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