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Metering Modes for Portraits

For most portrait situations, the Multi metering mode is ideal. (For more on how metering works, see the “Metering Basics” sidebar.) This mode measures light values from all portions of the viewfinder and then establishes a proper exposure for the scene. The only time you might encounter a problem when using this metering mode is when you have very light or very dark backgrounds in your portrait shots.

In these instances, the meter might be fooled into using the wrong exposure information because it will be trying to lighten or darken the entire scene based on the prominence of dark or light areas (Figure 6.7). You can deal with this in one of two ways. You can use the Exposure Compensation feature to dial in adjustments for over- and underexposure. Or you can change the metering mode from Multi to Center. The Center metering mode assesses the entire frame, but it places more emphasis on the center of the frame. This is the best way to achieve proper exposure for many portraits; metering off of skin tones, averaged with hair and clothing, will often give a more accurate exposure (Figure 6.8). The Center metering mode is also great to use when the subject is strongly backlit.

Figure 6.7

Figure 6.7 The dark background fooled the Multi metering mode into choosing a slightly overexposed setting.

ISO 200 • 1/160 sec. • f/6.3 • 35mm lens

Figure 6.8

Figure 6.8 With the Center metering mode, the camera shortens the exposure time based on the brighter values of the subjects’ skin and clothing.

ISO 200 • 1/250 sec. • f/6.3 • 35mm lens

Setting your metering mode to Center metering

  1. Press the Fn button on the camera back.
  2. Use the Control Wheel to highlight and select Metering Mode (A).

  3. Rotate the Control Wheel to select Center (B).

  4. Press the shutter button or the Center button of the Control Wheel return to shooting mode.
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