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Metering mode query for 40D camera.

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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 09:47   #1
senatore
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Metering mode query for 40D camera.

I have a 40D and a 400 prime lens which I use for taking bird shots usually hand held.

Earlier on I was reading Mike Atkinson's guide to taking birding shots which is very informative but when discussing metering modes he recommended "Evaluative Metering" mode for nearly all situations whereas I've been using "Spot Metering" mode.

Any advice would be welcome.

Max.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 13:46   #2
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Evaluative metering should give you good results in normal situations. The camera looks at the entire image and then averages it to an 18% grey. There are occasions where it gets it wrong though, for example a dark subject against a predominatly light background can lead to the subject being underexposed. In this situation you could use the spot meter to meter an area of the image that is roughly 18% grey, grass in the same lighting as your subject for example and shoot at that setting. The spot meter is also useful when shooting white subjects against any background. An approach in this situation would be to spot meter the white subect and then open up 1 to 2 stops. If I've got this right the spot meter takes a reading from the white subject and trys to expose as 18% grey, opening up 1 to 2 stops keeps the whites white as they say.
Exposure theory is a big subject and I'm sure people with more experience than me can offer more.
Hope this helps.

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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 14:02   #3
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Rhod's got it pretty well spot on (forgive the pun), taking a reading from grass has stood me in good stead over the years, with the extremes having to be compensated for. If the light is constant I then set the camera to manual, this has the advantage of following your subject through varying situations, following a bird for example along the ground and into the sky, the bird will remain spot on irrespective of the background.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 14:15   #4
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It's the same equipment that I use.

I seldom use spot metering for bird photos. I find 'partial metering mode' (the empty circle) gives much better results when used with EV compensation - whether static perched birds or those in flight.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 14:23   #5
Tim Taylor
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Quote:
Originally Posted by senatore View Post
I have a 40D and a 400 prime lens which I use for taking bird shots usually hand held.

Earlier on I was reading Mike Atkinson's guide to taking birding shots which is very informative but when discussing metering modes he recommended "Evaluative Metering" mode for nearly all situations whereas I've been using "Spot Metering" mode.

Any advice would be welcome.

Max.
Mark has written some relevant articles here.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 17:06   #6
Roy C
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I have the same gear and mostly use manual these days but before that I found 'partial' to be about the best all rounder (using exp comp for dark birds against light backgrounds ...) Spot is OK if you can cover the subject with the spot circle but if it does not cover this circle then results can be erratic in my experience.
Must say since I have been shooting manual the number of spot on exposures has gone up no end.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 17:36   #7
Roy C
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tim Taylor View Post
Mark has written some relevant articles here.
Interesting read Tim, I have always found Mark's advice to be good.
The overall conclusion has got be that the metering mode itself is not going to necessarily give you the right exposure. You have to recognise a particular scene and then manually dial-in some exposure comp relative to the metering mode you have used.
I find this easiest to do in manual by setting the prevailing 18% grey light and then just changing the shutter speed to suit the situation. After a while you get to know the amount of comp needed for particular birds (always providing they are in the prevailing light)
I always take a light reading at ISO 400 and f5.6 with my lens and set this in manual. A typical reading could give me, say, 1/1200 sec I know that any bird around 18% grey in tone will be exposed correctly at this setting regardless of the background. For a dark bird I will wind the top wheel down to 1/800 sec but for a White bird like a little egret I wind it up to around 1/2500 sec. Always glancing at the histogram to check your settings.
Using this method, the actual metering mode is irrelevant and I find it a lot quicker and easier to just use the top wheel to change the shutter speed rather than dialing in exposure comp.
For any bird that it in deep shade etc I quickly flip the command dial back one notch to AV and let the camera take over.

Last edited by Roy C : Sunday 14th December 2008 at 08:55.
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Old Saturday 13th December 2008, 23:31   #8
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No expert here, but I usually use evaluative mode with some EV comp dialed in. When I can, I will run off a few test shots before the "action starts" and dial in the EV comp.
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Old Sunday 14th December 2008, 06:32   #9
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I go with Ian & Roy! partial works best for me too.
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Old Sunday 14th December 2008, 08:38   #10
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Thanks for all the advice everyone.When the rain stops I will try out the other metering modes.

Max.
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Old Thursday 18th December 2008, 09:02   #11
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Went out today with the 40D + 400 prime to try out the advice I received above and I decided to try out "Partial Metering".

Here is a shot of a dark bird and wonder if I could have done better with different settings.The bird was close,it was a bright day,I was on AV,F9,auto ISO and plus 1/3 EV .

Any comments would be appreciated.

Max.
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Old Thursday 18th December 2008, 09:20   #12
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That looks pretty good to me Max, the only thing I would say is that the +1/3 has made it that little bit bright, but the focus detail is very good indeed.
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Old Thursday 18th December 2008, 15:02   #13
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I am probably not qualified to give any comment on the image but.... I would agree with Cashie. I think the +1/3 EV has over exposed it a bit. That said, the scene is probably one of the most difficult that you could choose, a light and reflective background and dark subject. The result you achieved is very good indeed. If you want to see some extraordinary bird photography then go to Arthur Morris's site www.birdsasart.com. He has two books that not only explain all the theory but give real examples of what he did and why - it is just brilliant.

In the end just keep getting out there and taking the photographs - that's the important thing

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Old Friday 19th December 2008, 04:56   #14
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It doesn't really matter what metering mode you use, so long as you pick one and stick to it. Get to know what to expect from that mode, and then you are in a position to accurately guess the correct amount more often than not.

Spot: very accurate provided you have the spot where you think you have the spot! Quite small movements of the centre point can make a huge difference. Not really ideal for anything that moves around much.

Partial: Probably the best all-round choice for birding. Some of the advantages of spot and few of the disadvantages. It's easy to learn what to expect from partial metering. (For bird work, I never use any other mode.)

Average. Does what you expect it to do, but you need to dial in a lot more EC than you do with partial.

Evaluative. Smarter than you are, so watch out! More likely to give correct exposure in more different situations than any other mode, but harder to predict what it will do, and thus harder to get the EC right first time. (I mostly use evaluative for non-bird general work with shorter lenses - landscapes and so on, never for birding.)
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Old Friday 19th December 2008, 08:39   #15
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Thanks for the comments again everyone.I shall keep using partial metering.

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