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Metering on a Canon Rebel T3i

Hal Kahn , Nov 21, 2011; 06:55 p.m.

I shoot only in LiveView and almost always use center-weighted averaging metering. I want a Canon Rebel T3i, however, in LiveView the camera defaults to Evaluative metering. My question: If I am shooting entirely in Manual, does the Evaluative metering really make a difference?
When I pose this question to Canon -- and I have on a number of occasions -- I get mixed answers. Some tech support folks say yes, others say no.
I use center-weighted average metering because I primarily photograph seated elderly people against a black muslin background, and I don't want the camera to try and lighten the background.

Thanks in advance.

Responses


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Robert Atkinson , Nov 21, 2011; 07:54 p.m.

Why not just use the viewfinder? If you shoot in manual mode then metering mode should make no difference. Metering is the cameras way of evaluating how bright to make the scene and in manual mode you give all that information to the camera, so the camera has no need to check for itself.

On the other hand, if you are in for example Av or Tv then evaluative metering would probably make the shot a little darker than CWA metering for the situation you described.

Ariel S , Nov 21, 2011; 08:09 p.m.

I agree with Robert that you should embrace the viewfinder. If you've never used it, it's a great way to shoot; photographers have been using it for generations with success :) However, if you're dedicated to using live view, then consider getting a live-view system, like the Nikon J1, Sony NEX-C3, or Olympus/Panasonic micro fourthirds cameras. Let us split up your workflow into two separate sections: metering and manual shooting. Evaluative metering DOES make a difference over center-weighted averaging. If the whole of the scene is a different brightness than your subject, it will take all of the scene into consideration before choosing an exposure. If your subject is significantly darker than the rest of the scene, then it will come out underexposed. If it significantly lighter than the scene as a whole, it will come out overexposed. Now, since you are shooting manual, you can easily adjust for this. Just choose an aperture/shutter speed combination that shows up on the meter as being incorrectly exposed! My father had a camera in Africa for example that did evaluative metering only. When taking photos of his tour guide, he intentionally overexposed the scene by 1 stop, so that the people wouldn't be black, detail-less blobs in the middle of a well-exposed photograph.

Cliff's notes: Yes, evaluative metering will mess up your exposure. It will take the black background into account, and it will overexpose your subjects, because it will be trying to get you to expose to bring out the detail in the muslin. However, since you're in manual, you can dial down the exposure so that the meter shows that you're underexposing; try about a stop as a starting point. As an added bonus, you can immediately review a photo to see how the exposure turned out and to check for blown highlights on your subject. If the lighting then doesn't change, just use that same exposure for the same subject, and you'll be fine. Last, you can just use the viewfinder to see the exposure that the camera chooses in spot metering, and then choose that exposure in live view, regardless of what the meter is telling you that you're doing. Again though, with digital you can immediately doublecheck your results.

William W , Nov 21, 2011; 08:29 p.m.

My question: If I am shooting entirely in Manual, does the Evaluative metering really make a difference?

It will only make a difference if you believe the meter is always correct, and it probably will not be correct in the circumstance you outline.
In Manual Camera Mode the TTL (Through The Lens) meter has NO control over the exposure parameters and the exposure you choose is solely dependent upon what you choose.

But if you have a particular set up such that you repetitively use a black background then (especially if you are framing the images similarly) it is very likely that you will notice a trend in what the metering is indicating and what is actually the correct exposure.
For example at a guess: for a Full Length Shot and using a Black-Black Muslin Background the Evaluative Metering might be reading a consistent ⅔ Stop, overexposed.
Once you know the trend for your camera's metering and you are shooting the same lighting set, you simply adjust for the meter's inaccuracy.

If you need to use Evaluative Metering TTL and also desire that Metering Mode to act mostly similar to CWA Metering when using a Black-Black Background: take the meter reading (using evaluative) by filling the frame with the upper body of the Subject, from the waist up and with as little background as possible in the frame; make the meter reading; then re-frame to shoot.

WW

Robert Atkinson , Nov 21, 2011; 09:02 p.m.

Sorry, I guess I wasn't all that clear. WW pretty much summed it up for you. I was trying to point out that in manual you have FULL control over metering so you can expose however you like. However as William and Ariel pointed out the exposure meter may tell you that you have the wrong exposure and the amount it tells you that you are wrong by will depend on your metering mode.

So basically you should do as WW suggested and learn what the meter is telling you when you end up with a well exposed shot, so that you can use settings equally 'overexposed' (according to the meter) next time.

BeBu Lamar , Nov 21, 2011; 09:17 p.m.

You said that you primarily photograph people against black muslin. My guess is that the lighting is the same most of the time too. I would suggest use the meter in any mode. Take a test shot based on the meter reading. Check the exposure. Adjust accordingly. You should be fine for the entire session using the same setting.

Hal Kahn , Nov 22, 2011; 09:59 p.m.

Thanks to all. I cannot use the viewfinder because my car was rearended and bending my neck is too painful.

Robin Vriesman , Jul 13, 2012; 12:25 p.m.

Help! I recently purchased my first DSLR -- a canon eos rebel t3i from Costco. I'm not sure of the correct terminology here. . . but the scale for the exposure meter (?) that shows on the LCD screen (and in my viewfinder) isn't doing what I assumed it was supposed to do. It is always marked at the "0" unless I do exposure compensation and change it myself. Isn't it supposed to show me what the camera thinks of the exposure based on its light meter reading? (so that I can then adjust it if it appears that the photo will be over or underexposed -- BEFORE I take the picture?) It's not showing me any information no matter what settings I use on the camera. It just stays at the "0". I'm not sure if what I am saying makes sense because I'm not sure of the terminology . . . But I sure would appreciate any help (since I obviously don't know what I am doing . . . I AM trying though:)

Robin Vriesman , Jul 13, 2012; 12:26 p.m.

Help! I recently purchased my first DSLR -- a canon eos rebel t3i from Costco. I'm not sure of the correct terminology here. . . but the scale for the exposure meter (?) that shows on the LCD screen (and in my viewfinder) isn't doing what I assumed it was supposed to do. It is always marked at the "0" unless I do exposure compensation and change it myself. Isn't it supposed to show me what the camera thinks of the exposure based on its light meter reading? (so that I can then adjust it if it appears that the photo will be over or underexposed -- BEFORE I take the picture?) It's not showing me any information no matter what settings I use on the camera. It just stays at the "0". I'm not sure if what I am saying makes sense because I'm not sure of the terminology . . . But I sure would appreciate any help (since I obviously don't know what I am doing . . . I AM trying though:)

Rob Bernhard , Jul 13, 2012; 12:37 p.m.

[[It is always marked at the "0" unless I do exposure compensation and change it myself. Isn't it supposed to show me what the camera thinks of the exposure based on its light meter reading? (so that I can then adjust it if it appears that the photo will be over or underexposed -- BEFORE I take the picture?) It's not showing me any information no matter what settings I use on the camera. It just stays at the "0"]]

In any mode other than manual, that is exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Your camera is working as designed.

The display is showing you what exposure compensation you've set in P, Tv, or Av.
The camera wants to give you a neutral exposure. When you meter different parts of the scene in P, or Av, or Tv, you will see the exposure values change (shutter speed, ISO, aperture)

If you want to change those due to a known bias. For example: you're photographing a black dog and you know the camera is going to over-expose, then you use the Exposure Compensation and dial in, say -1 on your scale.

In Manual mode, the display changes. You pick your ISO, Aperture, and Shutter speed, and the camera will tell you if it /thinks/ you're over or under exposed and it will move the indicator to + or - based on what you've metered.

If you are leaving the camera in auto ISO while in Manual mode, then the display will stay at zero until you reach the limit of your exposure settings.


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