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From the author of #5: Use Spot Metering for Portraits

#5: Use Spot Metering for Portraits

Most of the time, the camera's Evaluative Metering mode works best: The sensor attempts to find the best light value based on the entire contents of the scene. With portraits, however, you probably want the emphasis to be on the person in the shot, not necessarily all the surrounding details. For example, a bright background could darken your subject.

Instead, switch to Spot Metering mode. Press the Metering Light button (located above and to the right of the Control dial) and then move the dial to select the Spot option. Press the Metering Light button again to return to shooting mode. The light value is based on just the area where the spot meter box appears.

The image at left in Figure 4 uses Evaluative Metering mode to set the light value for the entire scene, but the subject is too dark. In the image at right, Spot Metering was used to better light the subject; even though the background gets blown out, the background isn’t the important part of this photo.

(The third metering mode, Center-Weighted, is similar to Spot but takes more of the surrounding area into consideration when determining the light value.)

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