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A spot of trouble...


Time for an update: I still use film, though. Not vast quantities, but I have a darkroom, and I'm not afraid to use it.

I enjoy every image I take: I hope you'll enjoy looking at them.
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A spot of trouble...

2 Sep 2020 8:32AM   Views : 490 Unique : 314


Spot meters – who needs ‘em? And because they are useful tools, providing you understand exposure really well, and are useful for certain difficult situations, people use the spot metering in their DSLRs.
Here are three boring images, SOOC JPG files. The top one used my Alpha 7R III’s multi-area mode.

The one below took a spot reading from the sky. And the shot at the bottom took the reading from the gutter outside my bedroom window (no expense spared to get imaginative shots of glamorous locations for THIS blog!)

Now, for some specific purposes, you might want to use the spot readings, but for most purposes, they are utter rubbish. The problem is that a spot reading takes the exposure from a very limited area of the frame, usually marked in the viewfinder.


If what is in that spot is bright (lie the sky) the camera will expose to render it as a midtone. That’s a problem if you wanted the bright area to appear bright in the finished image… Similarly, if the spot is over a dark area (like the gutter), this will be a midtone, and highlights will be blown.

It can sometimes (but not very often) be useful to use spot metering and exposure lock (as I did for these shots). But the best way to use it is in Manual model, taking the exposure from the area that you want, and consciously adjusting the exposure to get the tonal values that you want.

With any auto mode and varied tones in your subject, spot metering will change the exposure as you change the composition. That’s really not a great idea.

Program mode and spot metering? Well, if this is something that you think is OK, I suggest you look up ‘moonsault’ on YouTube, and consider whether you’d be happy with your children giving that a go when they’re having a tussle with a friend in the playground. Every TV broadcast of professional wrestling includes the advice ‘Don’t try this at home, at school, or anywhere else’ – and that’s my advice on spot metering!


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kaybee Avatar
kaybee 19 8.7k 28 Scotland
2 Sep 2020 9:27AM
Back button focusing + spot metering .........................
Just saying!
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
2 Sep 2020 10:36AM
Of course.

But you understand both focus and exposure...
dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
2 Sep 2020 10:37AM
Are you happy to give lessons by Skype?

whatriveristhis Avatar
2 Sep 2020 11:00AM
When I worked with a medium format camera ( Mamiya ) and colour positive film to photograph landscape, I used a Minolta spotmeter to take readings of dark and light areas in the scene to determine the brightness range in stops. If that range came out at more than the film would be able to record... usually 3 or 4 stops at best for Velvia 50... which was very often the case in all but flat light, the readings helped me decide where to sacrifice detail. I could also supplement the readings with others taken from areas that I could relate to a mid-tone, using the Zone System. That always seemed to me to be the correct way to use spot metering.
I don't really understand why it's invariably included in modern digital cameras... "matrix" ( or "evaluative" or whatever ) metering systems are so sophisticated and accurate ( well, usually ) that I'm not sure spot metering serves any real purpose. I think this is even more true with electronic viewfinders, where you see the results of exposure settings in real time. My Fuji offers four metering modes – I set it to 'evaluative' the day I bought it and haven't changed it since ( except by accident Blush). I shoot in Manual and thanks to the LCD viewfinder have never had a problem with exposure.
dark_lord Avatar
dark_lord Plus
19 3.0k 836 England
2 Sep 2020 12:10PM
I used Spot metering a few times in the film days,when lighting conditions were tricky and I knew what midtones in the scene were. Shooting transparencies meant exposure was important. Mny times I used Partial metering with no problems whatsoever but when I got a camera with Evaluative metering that became the default. I used Exposure Lock when I had trickier subjects, or Exposure Compensation when required. I can't remember when I last used Spot metering, but it's nice to know it's available should I need it, rather like Program mode.
philtaylorphoto Avatar
philtaylorphoto 22 334 2
6 Sep 2020 4:50PM
I feel the promised article about exposure meters coming in
PCarman Avatar
PCarman 11 2
22 Sep 2020 7:26AM
oh !!! right, will look at this again and ponder .
PCarman Avatar
PCarman 11 2
26 Sep 2020 3:48PM
"moonsault" ha ha is that how you spend your evenings !!

dudler Avatar
dudler Plus
20 2.1k 2048 England
27 Sep 2020 11:13AM
I have been known to watch professional wrestling, all the way from Les Kellett to Toni Storm...

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