Nikon Metering Methods

So that the camera can determine the necessary settings for shooting, first of all, it needs to know how bright or dim the lighting of the space that needs to be photographed is. The exposure meter in the camera is responsible for such a determination. Necessary Exposition for a picture - this is one of the key tasks of any camera automation.

Nikon Metering Methods

Measurement Methods exposure Nikon

All Nikon Central Control Units use metering exposure by reflected light, the so-called TTL mode. TTL means 'Through The Lens'- through the lens (objective), that is, froze exposure calculated with the help of light, which was reflected from the object being shot, passed through the lens (lens) and hit the exposure meter sensor.

For example, in the photo below, light from the sun reflected off the flower, passed through the lens, reflected in the mirror, and hit the exposure meter. How the work of a modern digital-mirror camera works here, and where is the metering sensor itself you can see here.

Matrix metering

Matrix metering exposure. Automation normally copes with measurement exposure.

Measuring sensor exposure - This is a rather complex device, basically, it is made up of a CCD or CMOS type photosensitive matrix, which is divided evenly or unevenly into a large number of cells. Each cell receives light from the lens and calculates its strength in each separate area of ​​the image. In fact, these cells calculate not only the brightness itself, but also the saturation of individual colors, the color shift. Further information about each section of the future image is transferred for processing to the camera processor. The camera processor receives additional information from the focus sensors to find out the focusing distance to the subject being shot. After that, according to complex algorithms that depend on the selected shooting mode, the processor calculates the parameters for the desired exposure - shutter speed, aperture, sometimes ISO.

Now the algorithms are so advanced that many cameras simply compare the information received from the sensors with a measurement base for several hundred thousand images, find a similar one and immediately determine the optimal settings just 'from memory'. For instance, Nikon D70s takes into account the base of 30.000 pictures, Nikon D700 base for 300.000.

Sensor Camera
180.000 pixel meter sensor D5, D6, D500, D850, D780, D7500
91.000 pixel meter sensor D4,D4s, D800,D800E, D810,D810a, D750
2.016-pixel RGB sensor D600, D610, Df, D7000, D7100, D7200, D5200, D5300, D5500, D5600
1.005-pixel CCD RGB D1, D1h, D1X, D2h, D2hs, D2x, D2xs, D70, D70s, D200, D3, D3s, D3x, D700, D300, D300s, Fujifilm FinePix S5 ProIS Pro
420-segment RGB sensor D50, D40, D40x, D60, D80, D3000, D90, D5000, D3100, D5100, D3200, D3300, D3400, D3500
10 segment SPD sensor D100, Fujifilm FinePix S2 Pro, S3 ProS3 Pro UVIR, Kodak Professional DCS Pro 14n (and its modifications), Kodak Professional DCS Pro SLR / n (and its modifications)
6 segment sensor Fujifilm FinePix S1 Pro
5 segment sensor quasi full-format digital SLR cameras Nikon E2, E2S, E2N, E2NS, E3, E3S, Fujifilm Fujix DS-505, DS-515, DS-505A, DS-515A, DS-560, DS-565

After I made such a tablet, I was surprised that Nikon uses only 5 exposure sensors in the CZK. All Nikon cameras (except D100) use color RGB sensors for metering, which allows you to fine-tune exposure settings. The table includes Fujifilm FinePix digital SLR cameras, which were built on the basis of Nikon cameras with Nikon F mount and have many insides from Nikon cameras, including exposure meters.

Unlike RBG sensors, the monochrome sensors of many other cameras can make a metering error due to different sensitivity to the components of the spectrum, for example, they are more sensitive to red color.

Type of metering sensor

Type of metering sensors. 1005 pixel above, 420 segment below

Nikon digital SLR cameras automatically measure exposure in 3 main ways:

  1. Matrix metering - Matrix Meter, Multi-Segment or 3D RGB Color Matrix Meter
  2. Center-Weighted Meter (only works in P, A, S, M)
  3. Spot - Spot

Matrix metering has a number of modifications, for example, 3D Color Matrix Metering II, III but the meaning remains the same everywhere. The camera tries to determine the correct exposure, evaluating the parameters of almost the entire future picture. That is, in this mode, the brightness of almost all the parts across the entire field of view is estimated. The mode is very convenient when there is a composition with uniform illumination in the frame, but even with complex scenes, matrix metering copes quite well.

Center Weighted also takes into account data from almost the entire image, but the main information that most affects the calculations is taken from the center of the frame. The diameter of the central part of the frame, which is most responsible for metering, can be changed in the camera settings. The default is 8mm diameter. Personally, I have never adjusted this parameter. Since the main part of the composition of interest to the photographer is usually located in the center of the frame, center-weighted metering can be used for scenes in which there are strong differences in lighting on the sides of the frame.

Spot metering measures exposure at only one point; the point size is approximately 2.5% of the total frame. In this mode, we accurately get the correctly exposed element in the picture where the metering point is located, the rest of the frame can be underexposed or overexposed, as shown in the example with the clock. In different operating modes auto focus:

  • The exposure metering point is the same as the focus point if single-point focusing is used. Moving the focus point in this mode, you can see how the exposure meter changes.
  • The spot metering point for spot metering is always in the center of the frame, if used auto focus (rectangle icon) or any other method except focusing on a single point.
  • In point mode, the function does not work TTL + BL with Nikon SB flashes.

Centrally weighted exposure metering.

In Live View, exposure metering works in exactly the same way, only information about brightness and color distribution is taken directly from the camera’s matrix.

Changing exposure when choosing different metering methods

Changing exposure when choosing different metering methods. Spot metering made the watch correctly exposed, but the total exposure was in '+'

Personal experience:

Roughly speaking, accurate metering algorithms each chamber is different, since each camera uses its own exposure metering module and its own matrix, which has different DD and ISO values ​​and a number of additional settings by type ADL. Each individual camera has a light meter get used to. If the on-camera exposure meter for reflected light does not suit you, you can always buy a light meter for exposure. Personally, I just roughly know how the camera behaves in different conditions.

Auto metering

Auto metering

I take almost all the pictures in matrix mode with desired exposure compensation, when the conditions are very difficult, then I use spot metering, and when the operation of the automation does not suit me, I simply use the manual mode of camera control, in which I set the exposure parameters by eye or by the histogram. In automatic modes, it is very useful to apply exposure compensation. Even if I didn’t keep track of the desired exposure on the camera’s display, I can always adjust the levels when processing a RAW file. Particular difficulties with metering arise when shooting with multiple flashes in i-ttl mode, in which case I still use matrix metering, but manual flash control with Nikon CLS.

In general, the same thing can be said not only about Nikon, but also about other systems.

Auto metering

Auto metering does a good job


Understanding metering is the foundation to properly exposed photography. If learn to be managed With different metering modes, you can easily shoot in any situation with complex lighting. I advise you to carry out your own experiments on their Central Control Commission.

Help to the project. Thanks for attention. Arkady Shapoval.

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Comments: 62, on the topic: Nikon metering methods

  • Sergei

    Hello. Arkady, I’m shooting d7000 in mode A. The backlight appeared on the bottom of the display. go to RGB switched, does not help, how to solve this problem?

    • Arkady Shapoval

      Display view settings, it is easiest to press the joystick up / down.

  • Sergei

    Configured everything, thank you very much! Thank you for your articles on them, I studied the handling of the D7000.

  • Nika

    Good day! I have the same problem as Sergey, also d7000. Could you describe in more detail how to eliminate this RGB flare (appears in absolutely all photos, even in dark ones). Help me please!

  • Vladimir

    The question is, for example, I’m shooting a person at sunset and I want the setting sun to highlight the facial features of the person being photographed, in what mode to measure the exposure and if to be measured pointwise, why, according to the bright area in the sky, or the reflection on the person himself?

    • BB

      If you want a normally exposed person, then measure by him.

    • Lynx

      by trial and error, but in general - in the face with negative exposure compensation.

  • Yura

    Please tell me what the center-weighted average metering area parameter means

    • Lynx

      according to the diameter of the measured zone, if I remember correctly something like 5, 8, and 12 mm on the viewfinder.

      • Yura

        Specific meanings are clear, mean is not clear

        • Novel

          And I do not understand this value.

  • Lynx

    maybe 8?

  • Vladimir

    I have a Nikon D750. This is my 4th Nikon, but the first one that lies with the exposure: in order to take the right picture, I must first take a test in A, then see its histogram, and only then, correcting for ~ +1 (depending on F.R.), I’m taking a picture in M. This is just for me, and what to do with it if you need to take a picture quickly and efficiently?

    • Michael

      This is the famous sore D750. At your service, Nikon recognized the joint and will fix it for free.

  • Julia

    Thanks for the information!

  • Andrey Super

    I’ll insert my 5 cents. I have a Nikon D300, center-weighted metering area of ​​6, 8, 10, 13 mm and medium. As I understand it, the average between these zones is either 9,5 mm in diameter or about 9,6 mm in area. I think the area is more correct.
    The occupied area of ​​the frame 6 mm - 7,5%, 8 mm - 13%, 10 mm - 20%, 13 mm - 35%, 9,6 mm - 25%.

    • Andrey Super

      Only one picture at a time can be added. (

    • Andrey Super

      I correct the error of 9,6 mm - 19%, i.e. the middle zone practically does not differ from 10 mm. Who has any thoughts on this?

      • Sergei

        I think that average does not mean the average size of the area, but the average size of the peripheral exposure accounting. It can be taken into account more, average, less ... In soap dishes, for example, where this (CV) mode is the main one, the area outside the center is taken into account insignificantly. IMHO.

  • Dmitriy

    Tell me where to find this very histogram by which you can set the expocouple in Nikon D5100? I found only the histograms after shooting, when the photo was already taken, at the time of shooting I do not see the histogram and I do not know where to find it.

    • Denis

      there is no histogram, there is a light meter. visible on screen and viewfinder

  • Yuri Vostrukhin

    By the way, I wanted to fix it, Nikon writes in the instructions that corrections are not recommended for matrix metering since the camera enters corrections in this mode by itself !!

    • Valery A.

      Strange, how does the camera know that I want darker, lighter? I often introduce exposure corrections in mode A with matrix metering, it works.

  • Igor

    Thank you for the article!!
    Now I almost understand why on my Nikon D7200 camera the exposure scale in the eye and on the screen in Lv mode shows different values.
    With thanks to the creators of this Internet resource !!

  • Still

    And here is the question. In the d7100 (in particular) is it really possible to make the real exposure display in Live View mode? Not on the exposure meter, but so that it could be seen from the carriage.

  • Alexander

    Good afternoon. I have a Nikon D7200. I recently purchased a Tamron 17-50 2.8 lens with a stub as a replacement for the standard one. The lens is good, but what really upset me was that when shooting in the sun in mode A with matrix metering, there were strong overexposures. Center-weighted metering is a little better, but not always. You have to constantly make esp correction at -1. I haven’t noticed this with my other lenses. An Internet search yielded a couple of results of exactly the same problem with the same Tamron. There was no solution there. I’m thinking, maybe I can get some advice from you? The strangest thing is that indoors I set the exposure compensation to zero and everything is fine, just like in cloudy weather outside. I'm already thinking, maybe it's because my camera doesn't have a low-pass filter? Could this be somehow related? Can a UV filter help in this situation?

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