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Olympus E-620/600 An Olympus 12.1MP mid-range compact DSLR, the E-620 and the feature-reduiced version, the E-600.

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Old 18th January 2011
Danny Danny is offline
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Spot and Matrix metering

Hi all

I need some proper Olympus user advice please

I've been told by many bird and wildlife togs that i should be using spot metering and not matrix metering for my shots, as this will improve the shot if light is low.

Is this right, and if so, what happens when spot metering to improve theshot? does it up the shutter speed?

sorry for the nooby question, but I had to ask

Danny
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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

There is some sense in the suggestion. If you are aiming at a white plumage bird, then spot metering it will avoid blowing the highlights (i.e. feathers).

In fact (and I am not a bird photographer) I suspect that spot metering on a white bird might even make it a touch too dark, so it comes out a bit grey.

I certainly use spot metering to take pictures of performers under stage lighting with a dark background, so it could work for light coloured bird against dark foliage...

Pete
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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Well I guess that if you want to get the bird exposed correctly (close up) you should be using spot metering. Probably not if the bird is more in its environment.
This is what I would be doing.
Not sure what would happen with the shutter speed - why not try it?
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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Ages ago PeterD started a thread about this titled Tackling difficult images, you might be interested in reading it because the conclusion was that centre-weighted worked best.

This is one of Peter's pictures

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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Ellie is right, the answer is in PeterD's very useful thread. The key consideration is that the bird (or birds) is the subject that needs to be correctly exposed and whilst anything else in the frame is still important from the point of view of composition etc. it is secondary. I allways shoot in aperture priority mode to give some control of depth of focus so that the background etc does not distract from the main subject. However of course there are allways compromises to be made. Since birds tend not to stay still shutter speed is important and you may need to use a higher ISO to get a fast enough shutter speed.

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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

I do a lot of bird photography and originally used spot metering following advice on some bird image websites. However I now use more centre weighted as I was getting the problems already mentioned, i.e. If the bird is light or dark in colour then that's how it should be in the finished image not evened out to a standard grey. Try taking a shot of a coot (jet black plumage and snow white bill) using spot metering and see what I mean. The spot can either be on the plumage or the body, both resulting in incorrect exposure. With centre weighted then the camera takes account of black, white and a little background and gives a more workable image, still not perfect but workable.

David
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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Well - I always use the histogram to tell me what's going on.

A good default is centre weighted, but that may leave some backgrounds underexposed and subject to noise, whereas matrix may blow out a white bird against a dull scene (though be just right for a darker one) and spot can turn a daylight swan into a night time one.

So watch the histogram, keep your camera working (so it monitors changes in light for you), twiddle some ev compensation, and know your birding spots and how they react to morning/afternoon light..

Nick
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Old 18th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

When I used slide film I used spot metering all the time, in fact I still have a Pentax digital spot meter which I now rarely use because I find modern matrix metering so accurate. However, spot metering can still be useful with subjects like birds. Bear in mind though that spot metering a black or white bird will still expose incorrectly unless you set exposure compensation of around minus or plus 1.7 to 2.0 stops respectively.
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Quote:
Originally Posted by Danny View Post

I've been told by many bird and wildlife togs that i should be using spot metering and not matrix metering for my shots, as this will improve the shot if light is low.

Is this right......
Not a bad question at all - but the answer remains the same; No, nothing to do with low light shooting.

However, as others have said (and links provided cover off well) the real key is in understanding what you are metering and what (in the frame) you want to expose for. Spot metering can be considered the most appropriate tool for that as it permits you to select a specific area in the image and meter that, adjusting exposure from there.

If birds would only walk (fly) round with a nice mid grey target next to them this would be great! Meter, adjust for conditions, lock exposure, frame and fire...

The reality if close to a magpie where you will get a under or over exposed image (in normal lighting) depending on whether you 'hit' a white bit or a black(blue) bit!

Thus CW becomes a good working solution
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Quote:
Originally Posted by photo_owl View Post
Not a bad question at all - but the answer remains the same; No, nothing to do with low light shooting.

However, as others have said (and links provided cover off well) the real key is in understanding what you are metering and what (in the frame) you want to expose for. Spot metering can be considered the most appropriate tool for that as it permits you to select a specific area in the image and meter that, adjusting exposure from there.

If birds would only walk (fly) round with a nice mid grey target next to them this would be great! Meter, adjust for conditions, lock exposure, frame and fire...

The reality if close to a magpie where you will get a under or over exposed image (in normal lighting) depending on whether you 'hit' a white bit or a black(blue) bit!

Thus CW becomes a good working solution
One solution when faced with the magpie type of scenario is to meter off a more neutral tone, such as grass or leaves, which is in the same light as the magpie.
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

As people above have said, I aways use centre weighted,in fact I don't ever use any other mode.This will use the centre 60% of the frame.Then dependant on background just twiddle the exposure compensation.
Ev compensation is easy on the higher end cameras as you can set one of the two control dials to do this.
I always shoot in apature priority and set the rear control dial to adjust the exposure and the front dial to EV,but this customisable either way.

Not sure if the 620 has two control dials and I know the 410 does not so you may not have this luxury.So it's another thing to think about ie pushing the ev button and then turning the dial.Not alway easy when taking birds.
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Though there has been some very good advice offered here on the merits of Spot, Center Weighted and Matrix metering, personally I think the right metering for a shot is entirely dependent on what you are trying to achieve in the shot you are trying to take.

It really is then an issue of knowing your camera so well, that you are able to switch mode or adjust whatever controls on the camera are required to give you the effect and exposure etc you are after.

For example... with spot metering; this is not something I would use if I were taking the shot that Peter posted re the two Cormorants and Egret, as if you select spot metering, then focus on the egret - the camera would meter correctly for the bright white of the bird in the mid point of the exposure, provide a shorter exposure time and as such the Cormorants would likely be too dark. If you used spot metering on the Cormorants, the camera would work out correct exposure for the dark area of those birds, thus lengthening the exposure and thus possibly burning the whites of the Egret out. In that example, Peter did exactly as I would do, and used center weighted metering. Remember a good rule of thumb here is... 'Blacks can be lifted, whites are gone'.

Personally, I tend to use Center Weighted for my shots 99% of the time, making adjustments of +/-EV where appropriate. I judge these adjustments by knowing (through experience of using) the cameras metering characteristics, knowing how to adjust relevant settings while the camera is still at my eye (well, you don't want to lose the shot do you?) and choosing the right set-up and mode to get the shot I want.

Cameras are simply not capable of capturing the extreme range of blacks to whites in a typical scene. Some form of compensation needs to be applied - you either get the whites and lift the darks in PP, or you risk losing some of the whites. Hardest bird I've tried to capture is the Coal Tit - bright white patch adjacent to dark black patch... which getting right in-camera is always difficult.
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Let us not forget (for those old enough) the separate exposure meter with it's incident light attachment. I still occasionally use my old Weston Master V with Invercone when I am in the right situation, with fairly consisitent lighting and enough time, then use manual exposure on my E30/E5. Results just as you would expect, but to be sure I also use ISO bracketing. Sometimes advanced technology gets us nowhere!

David
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

Quote:
Originally Posted by David Morison View Post
Let us not forget (for those old enough) the separate exposure meter with it's incident light attachment. I still occasionally use my old Weston Master V with Invercone when I am in the right situation, with fairly consisitent lighting and enough time, then use manual exposure on my E30/E5. Results just as you would expect, but to be sure I also use ISO bracketing. Sometimes advanced technology gets us nowhere!

David
Difficult to point at a bird though David, I suppose you could ask it to keep still and stay there, but not that confident if it would comply

Just joking... no offense meant
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Old 19th January 2011
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Re: Spot and Matrix metering

The idea of incident light reading is that you measure the light falling on the bird, not reflected from it. So if you are in the open and under the same lighting conditions as the bird then all you have to do is point it to the light source (the sky) and Bob's your uncle! It doesn't matter how much the subject moves as long as it remains under the same lighting conditions. It really works well.

David

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