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Matrix, Center Weighted or Spot

Discussion in 'General Technical Discussion' started by mcampos, May 2, 2005.

  1. mcampos


    Apr 14, 2005
    Norwalk, CA

    I am wondering what metering mode you use most often, matrix, center weighted or spot and why you favor one versus the other.

    With my old F5 I used center weighted most of the time, but with the D2H I am finding myself using matrix and spot more than CW.

    Do you think the metering system on the DSLRs is different enough to render comparison worthless?

    I will greatly appreciate your feedback.
  2. Gale


    Jan 26, 2005
    Viera Fl
    I will be very interested in this discussion..

    Thanks for bringing it up.
  3. bpetterson

    bpetterson Guest

    Dear Mike;

    Since I like to shoot small birds- I tend to use spot because at times birds are in trees- so spot will better expose the bird.

    However Matrix on the D2X is unbelievable most of the time.
    I mean super.

  4. Birger,
    Can you please elaborate.
  5. D. Kelly

    D. Kelly Guest

    Hello Mike,

    I use spot most of the time, especially in bright sun or high contrast, I guess it's a holdover from my film days when I shot mostly slide film and got in the habit of exposing for the highlights...I still do. It also gives me the ability to meter different areas of the scene to see how much dynamic range I'm dealing with between highlights and shadows.

    I will use matrix when the light's pretty even, my subject's moving fast against a changing background (birds mostly) or I'm using flash, but I seem to get better results in most other situations with spot...just what I'm used to I guess. Ron R. has some excellent explanations of what situations he uses what metering for in his e-book, and maybe he'll jump in (I'm not nearly as technical as him and fly by the seat of my pants mostly :lol: ) Also, if I'm not mistaken, I think the metering system on the D1 and D2h series is the same as the F5, but I could be wrong.

  6. Flew


    Jan 25, 2005
    Spot metering, hmmmmmm....

    I'm tracking a Mallard that is coming in a 60MPH, zigging and zagging all over the sky. I have absolutely no idea what my metering is going to say. I'm lucky if I can get the blasted thing in focus :?

    I'm sure that spot metering has it's uses, but IMHO, for fast action matrix (or manual) is the way to go.
  7. Preston


    May 2, 2005
    Reno, NV
    Matrix, unless I need to check the different brightness values of the scene or I don't want the meter overly influenced by something very bright or dark.
  8. F15Todd


    Feb 1, 2005
    Matrix most all the time.
  9. genec57

    genec57 Guest

    With the D1X I used Matrix about 75% of the time and spot the rest.
    The metering on the D2X is so awesome that I use Matrix almost all the time. With some white birds I will check it with spot and then usually revert to matrix.
  10. Matrix 90% of the time

    I find that the matrix metering even in the D100 is really good. I will say that I didn't feel that way until I spent some time studying the picture in the manual of what areas matrix reads, and doing the same study in a couple magazine tests of the metering system. Once I understood where the zones were, how big they were, and how they were shaped, I figured out how to use exposure lock and reframing to compensate for those cases where matrix metering could get things horribly wrong without some help, but will get things wonderfully right with help.

    I use spot the other 10%, but use it more like a zone metering system, taking four or five readings on different brightness areas and then manually feeding them to the camera. I don't shoot that many things where one small area is all that I care about, I'm just not that good of a birder.

    But wanna know my secret weapon? A handheld incident light meter. I've got one old Sekonic, and one new fancy digital one, both of which I initially acquired to support my medium format work. Over the last couple years, I've discovered that a couple incident readings followed by manual setting of the d100 produce incredibly good results. Most pleased by its results in situations like snow, beaches, wide open skies, things where the in camera metering almost almost always gets it wrong.

    There's no way to build an incident-reading inside the camera meter, but if there was a camera that pulled it off, I'd be there in a heartbeat. Someone told me once that all the fancy stuff matrix metering does is an attempt to produce the exposure settings that a reasonably well wielded incident meter would produce.
  11. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi mike-

    most of the time i use matrix. the d2h (and d1 to a lesser extent) are more accurate using this mode than the d100 i used to have. matrix does the trick for me most of the time.

    i'll switch to spot if i have a backlit subject, or if i want to expose for the subject under the focus sensor. center gets chosen if i'm taking a shot at night under street lighting.

  12. mcampos


    Apr 14, 2005
    Norwalk, CA
    Thanks Ricky,

    My problem came from a misconception that I had, I thought center weighted shifted with the focus area which it does not. Now what I am using most of the time with the D2H is Matrix, and also just figured out that I can assign the FUNC button to switch to spot. This makes it really easy to switch back and forth on the fly.

    I just moved to California six months ago. I want to take a trip to your neck of the woods, I have not been around that area in about 20 years. I want to fly to San Luis Obispo and drive from there.
  13. I'm just learning my D2X(1 day old).
    A lot of people use the function button for The switch to high speed crop mode.
    I think I'll use my function button to quickly and temporarily go from matrix to center-weighted.
    I enjoy available light shots. Far to often I'll switch to spot mode and then blow a few shots by forgetting I'm in spot mode.
    The answer:
    Matrix 70% with a lot of histogram/highlight checking.
    Spot 25% often in tough or mixed lighting situations.
    Center weight 5%. I feel like I never know what It's looking at.
  14. fks


    Apr 30, 2005
    sf bay area
    hi mike-

    i have my FUNC button set the same way. to be honest, i wish the d2h had more than one programmable button, flash exposure lock would be my second choice.

    20 years is a long time. the bay has changed a lot since then, you should definitely make a trip up here. lots of photo ops too.


  15. I use matrix 95% of the time, but I dial in EC depending on the situation. I use centerweighted and spot about 5% of the time each.
  16. Ken-L

    Ken-L Guest

    I use Matrix unless something about the lighting or the scene indicates a need for Spot or Center-weighted and if I do switch from Matrix, I try to take the same shot with the 3 different methods for comparison.

    I should add that as a "holdover from the old days", in many instances I will point the camera at a specific, more uniform lighted area, that would give me the result I want, and then I lock the AE at that, go back to the subject for composure and focus, then shoot.

    In the case of a person as subject, I will hold my hand out in front of the camera and set the exposure on that, rather than going up to the subject to set the exposure.

    So, although I use the Matrix metering I often "override" it with other techniques.
  17. sfoxjohn


    May 1, 2005
    Marlton, NJ
    Hi Ednaz,

    There is a product that has been around for a while called the Wallace Expo Disk. It slips on your lens like a filter. Its primary purpose is to then point it toward the light source and it will produce a film frame supposedly equivalent to a gray card. But another use is to use your camera as an incident light meter. I have tried it on an FM and F3HP and it did a decent job. Closest thing I know to using the camera meter as an incident meter.


    Before the D70 the F3HP was the most "modern" of Nikon's I own. When I meter with the D70 I use matrix, and when I want precision I still use my old hand-held digital spot meter. And bracketing might be the wisest choice if the hand-held is impractical.
  18. Lately I've been running around with a lightmeter so I've been going all manual. D70 set to matrix for comparison, and a lot of the time the camera will tell me I'm underexposing anywhere from 1 to 3 stops.

    When I don't have the lightmeter with me, I'll use spot for subject shooting and matrix for scene shooting.
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