Beginners guide to metering and metering modes

Your camera uses ‘metering’ to determine what the correct aperture and shutter speed should be depending on the amount of light that comes into the camera and the ISO.

The three main metering modes on digital cameras are:

Matrix metering – Nikon and Evaluative metering (Canon)
Use this for most of your photography

Centre weighted metering
Evaluates the light in the middle of your frame

Spot metering
Evaluates the light in a very small area of your frame based on where you put your focus point


Here’s three very useful videos that will help you to understand what metering modes are and how to use them:

Beginners guide to camera modes

Digital camera modes allow photographers to control all of the elements of an exposure.


Program (P)

The camera automatically chooses the aperture and shutter speed
(use if you aren’t yet confident in how to set your camera)

Shutter priority (S)

The camera automatically chooses the aperture and you manually set the shutter speed you want
(use for moving objects)

Aperture priority (A)

The camera automatically chooses the shutter speed for you and you manually set the aperture you want
(use to set what you want in focus i.e. if you take a picture of a person you may want to blur the background)

Manual (M)

You take control over all camera settings.


Here’s three videos that will help you to understand what each of the modes on your camera does:

Beginners guide to exposure

It’s extremely important for new photographers to understand what exposure is and how the three main elements – ISO, aperture and shutter speed combine to produce your images.


Here’s three great videos i’ve found that will really help you to understand what exposure is. The more you can understand how to get a good exposure the better your photo’s will be:

Beginners guide to aperture

Aperture is one of the three factors that go into creating an exposure (your photograph).

The other two being shutter speed and ISO.

Think of your camera’s aperture as the pupil of an eye. The wider the pupil opens the more light it lets in.

Aperture is measured using the f-stop scale. On your camera you will notice an ‘f’ followed by a number. The number defines how wide the aperture is which affects exposure (how much light you are letting in) and ‘depth of field’ (how much focus/detail you want in your photograph).

The scale is as follows: f/1.4, f/2, f/2.8, f/4, f/5.6, f/8, f/11, f/16, f/22.

The lower the f-stop the more light your camera lets in.

This may seem a bit confusing; surely the higher the f-stop the more light can get in? Well…no.

There’s a reason for this and it’s all down to math’s but i’ll let you watch the videos below as a video is worth a thousand words.

Image courtesy of Wikipedia

Large aperture = Small f-number = Shallow (small) depth of field
Small aperture = Larger f-number = Deeper (larger) depth of field

For example:

In this picture of a Proboscis monkey that I took in Borneo I wanted to focus solely on the monkey’s face so I used a large aperture f2.8

Proboscis monkey

And in this picture I took in El Chalten, South America I wanted to capture detail all the way through the picture and into the distance so I used f22