Nikon Know-how

What are ma­trix, cen­tre-weighted and spot modes and when should you use them?

NPhoto - - Contents -

Learn the dif­fer­ence be­tween ma­trix, cen­tre-weighted and spot me­ter­ing modes, how they help your Nikon judge the cor­rect ex­po­sure, and how to me­ter for awk­ward sub­jects and light­ing

The light me­ter­ing sys­tems on mod­ern dig­i­tal SLRs are com­plex and so­phis­ti­cated, but they’re still not fool­proof. That’s why your Nikon has a choice of me­ter­ing pat­terns for use in dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions.

By de­fault, Nikon D-SLRs use so-called ‘ma­trix’ me­ter­ing. This splits the scene up into dif­fer­ent zones which are mea­sured in­di­vid­u­ally. The cam­era then builds up a pic­ture of the dis­tri­bu­tion of light in the scene and checks this against an in­ter­nal ‘data­base’ to try to work out what kind of sub­ject you’re shoot­ing and the ex­po­sure that will give the best re­sult.

It sounds re­ally clever – and it is – but ul­ti­mately the cam­era can only guess at your in­ten­tions.

Tak­ing con­trol

If you’re just start­ing out in pho­tog­ra­phy, ma­trix me­ter­ing will prob­a­bly deliver bet­ter re­sults than you could work out for yourself, but as you gain ex­pe­ri­ence you will en­counter more and more sit­u­a­tions where you need to take con­trol.

That’s why your Nikon cam­era also has cen­tre-weighted and spot me­ter­ing modes. These are less so­phis­ti­cated than ‘ma­trix’ mode, but they make it much eas­ier to in­ter­pret the light read­ings the cam­era is giv­ing you.

All Nikon dig­i­tal SLRs give you this choice of me­ter­ing modes, and over the next four pages we ex­plain how they work and when you might use them.

Nikon’s more ad­vanced dig­i­tal SLRs of­fer fur­ther cus­tomi­sa­tion op­tions, and these are ex­plained in the di­a­grams op­po­site. You can also see what me­ter­ing op­tions your own Nikon pro­vides in the ta­ble over­leaf.

Do what works!

We can show you how your Nikon’s me­ter­ing sys­tem works, but in the end there are no ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ ways to use your cam­era’s me­ter. The se­cret is to find a method that works well for you, one where you can eas­ily un­der­stand and in­ter­pret the read­ings the cam­era is giv­ing you and an­tic­i­pate the sit­u­a­tions where you need to take over.

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