How to Get the Right Exposure in Camera

Getting the right exposure in camera is one of the most important aspects of photography. But achieving the perfect exposure can be tricky, especially for beginners. In this blog post, we’ll cover how understanding metering modes can help you get the right exposure every single time.


Did you know that the metering mode in your camera sets the exposure? In other words, if you’ve used your in camera meter to meter to zero, but instead of getting perfect exposure your image turned out too dark or too bright, it’s probably because you’re using the wrong metering mode.


The metering mode you select determines which areas are used by the camera to measure the brightness and how it sets the overall exposure. There are three different metering modes (plus a bonus one)!


1. Matrix Metering

Matrix metering is a general metering mode that is the factory setting on most cameras. If you’ve never changed the metering mode on your camera, the chances are that it’s set to matrix metering (or evaluative metering for Canon users).


This is actually the one metering mode I do not recommend using if you’re a portrait or wedding photographer. The reason for that is that with matrix metering the camera divides your frame in multiple segments and analyzes different information from each segment to give you an average exposure.


The problem with that is that if you have some areas that are bright and some areas that are dark in your image, when the camera pulls information from all of these places, the average exposure it calculates will probably be incorrect. That’s why most of the time your image will look underexposed when you meter to zero with matrix metering.


2. Center-Weight Metering

The center-weighted metering favors the center of the frame when calculating the exposure while still considering what is around it. This metering mode is best for on-the-go shooting like weddings, engagements, or family sessions.


3. Spot Metering

With spot metering, the camera is looking at a specific spot within the frame, completely ignoring the light in the rest of the scene. Spot metering ensures that the subject will be correctly exposed, even when the background is much brighter or darker.


4. Highlight-Weighted Metering

I call this a bonus metering mode because you can only find it on the newer cameras. The highlight-weighted metering mode ensures that the highlights are never overexposed, even in challenging situations.


Now, let’s compare these side-by-side. In each of these examples, the image was metered to zero.


getting correct exposure in camera


Here’s a cheat sheet on when to use each metering mode!


  • evenly lit situations
  • when using flash
  • landscapes


  • weddings
  • portraits
  • night photography


  • backlit images
  • silhouettes


  • concerts
  • mixed lighting situations


And there you have it, friends: how to get the correct exposure in camera every single time! I hope this post helped you know which metering mode to use in order to get the right exposure in camera.




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