The Case For Evaluative Metering

Started Dec 31, 2012 | Discussions thread
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ProtoPhoto Contributing Member • Posts: 984
The Case For Evaluative Metering

One of the accepted bits of wisdom in this forum a few years ago was that center-weighted metering was a better starting point than evaluative metering.  At that time, with my XSi / 450D and combination of DPP and Paint Shop Pro for processing, I agreed.  At this time, with my T3i / 600D for image capture and Photoshop CS6 / ACR 7.3 for processing, I disagree, and find Evaluative the better starting point.

The debate could be fun… 

My rationale is that for those of us who shoot exclusively raw, what we are capturing is not the end result, but the beginning of a workflow.  I want the best set of data to be worked in Adobe Camera Raw, Bridge CS6 for me, but likely Lightroom and other programs for others here.  I don’t need the exposure just right, per se, but rather I don’t want to be limited by clipping and data loss with either highlights or shadows.  Given the best range of data, I will find the best exposure in post processing, and it won’t be the out of camera exposure anyway, but will likely involve the use of shadows and highlights sliders, as well as curves.

The other key consideration is that I don’t rely on either metering or exposure compensation, those are just convenient aids along the path.  The exposure is based on aperture, shutter speed and ISO (and maybe flash), those are my responsibility, and if the image doesn’t turn out right, it isn’t the fault of the camera and choice of metering mode, but is my own fault for not using the basics of the photographic triangle properly.

In challenging situations, this can be an iterative process, whether getting the best single exposure of a landscape, or the best choice of Av, Tv or full manual for a fluid situation with people and action and changing lighting.

What I like about evaluative metering in its current form, is that as one of a series of goals, it seems to emphasize not clipping highlights or shadows in any of the zones.  Which gives me a safer starting point for my raw workflow.

Center-weighted is safer for a good exposure of the center – but indifferent to clipping shadows and highlights on the edges.  Which is safer for an out of camera image, but can be problematic for the first stage of a raw workflow.  So evaluative trumps center-weighted for raw workflow!  IMHO, YMMV, etc., etc.

 ProtoPhoto's gear list:ProtoPhoto's gear list
Canon PowerShot S90 Canon EOS 550D Canon EOS 600D Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 II Canon EF-S 15-85mm f/3.5-5.6 IS USM +7 more
Canon EOS 450D (EOS Rebel XSi / EOS Kiss X2) Canon EOS 600D (EOS Rebel T3i / EOS Kiss X5)
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