How to Use Exposure Metering Mode on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D - dummies

How to Use Exposure Metering Mode on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D

By Julie Adair King, Robert Correll

The metering mode on the Canon Rebel T5/1200D determines which part of the frame the camera analyzes to calculate the proper exposure. Your camera offers three metering modes, described in the following list and represented in the Shooting Settings by the icons you see in the margin.

You can access all three modes only in the advanced exposure modes (P, Tv, Av, and M) and only during regular, through-the-viewfinder shooting. In Live View mode, as well as in the fully automatic exposure modes, the camera always uses Evaluative metering.

  • Evaluative metering: The camera analyzes the entire frame and then selects exposure settings designed to produce a balanced exposure.


  • Partial metering: The camera bases exposure only on the light that falls in the center 10 percent of the frame.


  • Center-Weighted Average metering: The camera bases exposure on the entire frame but puts extra emphasis — or weight — on the center.


In most cases, Evaluative metering does a good job of calculating exposure. But it can get thrown off when a dark subject is set against a bright background, or vice versa.

For example, in the left image in the figure below, the amount of bright background caused the camera to select exposure settings that underexposed the statue, which was the point of interest for the photo. Switching to Partial metering properly exposed the statue.


Of course, if the background is very bright and the subject is very dark, the exposure that does the best job on the subject typically overexposes the background. You may be able to reclaim some lost highlights by turning on Highlight Tone Priority.

Use either of these two options to change the metering mode:


  • Quick Control screen: After displaying the screen, highlight the Metering mode symbol, which is the one selected on the left in the figure below. You can then rotate the Main dial to cycle through the three settings or press the Set button to display all three options on one selection screen, as shown on the right in the figure below.


  • Shooting Menu 2: You also can find the Metering Mode option at the menu address shown in the figure below.


In theory, the best practice is to check the Metering mode before each shot and choose the mode that best matches your exposure goals. But in practice, it’s a pain, not just in terms of having to adjust yet one more setting but also in terms of having to remember to adjust one more setting.

Until you’re comfortable with all the other controls on your camera, just stick with Evaluative metering. It produces good results in most situations, and after all, you can see in the monitor whether you like your results and, if not, adjust exposure settings and reshoot. This option makes the whole Metering mode issue a lot less critical than it is when you shoot with film.

The one exception might be when you’re shooting a series of images in which a significant contrast in lighting exists between subject and background. Then, switching to Center-Weighted metering or Partial metering may save you the time spent having to adjust the exposure for each image.

Many portrait photographers, for example, rely on Center-Weighted or Partial metering exclusively because they know their subject is usually going to be hovering near the center of the frame.