Your camera has two, or more usually three, types of light meter built in:

  1. Evaluative/3D Color Matrix meter. You normally use this. This is “smart” metering, where the camera meters areas of the sensor separately. It can handle many types of light situations and is a real improvement on other, older metering types.
  2. Centre Weighted Average meter. You use this when the subject is in the centre and the outsides are dark or light. Backlight portraits are a good example of where this is useful.
  3. Spot Meter. You use this when you have great contrast: simply aim the spot at a subject that is neither very dark nor very light and lock your exposure. This is useful when shooting something in a dark room or in a bright snowscape.

Note also that ambient and flash light are metered separately.

My advice: try all three metering modes and get familiar with them, then learn when to use which one.

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