Using the Highlight-Weighted Metering Mode


Highlight-weighted metering is a new metering mode that is offered in select Nikon DSLR cameras, in which the camera meters the highlights to ensure that they are properly exposed and not blown out or overexposed. Use highlight-weighted metering to meter highlights when your subject is in motion, and to meter subjects lit by spotlights or colored lighting.

Highlight-weighted metering is the go-to choice when you’re photographing a spot lit bride in her wedding dress, a dancer or singer on stage, or whenever you’re faced with uneven lighting and a background that is much darker than the subject.

To select highlight-weighted metering, press the metering button on the far left dial on the camera body, and while holding it down, rotate the main command dial until the highlight weighted metering icon is displayed.

Moving Subjects

Although spot metering targets a selected area, targeting can be difficult when your subject is in motion. Matrix metering balances exposure over the entire frame, including the background, and may consequently leave highlights overexposed, or washed out. You may also have to constantly adjust the exposure compensation when using Matrix metering. In contrast, highlight-weighted metering automatically detects and meters highlights for optimal exposure with less washout.


Solid Colors, Colored Lighting

Highlight-weighted metering takes the color of the light source into account to prevent overexposure, even in highlights with a strong color cast.

Matrix and spot metering tend to "wash out" highlights in subjects that are a solid color or lit by colored lighting, the former because it accepts limited washout if it ensures optimal exposure for the entire frame, the latter because it meters only brightness. Highlight-weighted metering takes the color of highlights into account so that they are always correctly exposed.

Highlight-weighted metering's first priority is to reduce washout, which may make pictures seem overexposed. Use exposure compensation to achieve the desired result.


Challenging Scenes

With a dark subject and bright background, if you use highlight-weighted metering, the exposure will be adjusted for the background, throwing the main subject into shadow. Highlight-weighted metering can be used for silhouettes, but matrix metering is a better choice if you want exposure optimized for the main subject.

When there is a bright light in the frame, the camera may treat the light as a highlight, leaving the main subject underexposed. Compose the shot with the light out of frame or use Matrix metering.

If desired, Active D-Lighting can be used with highlight-weighted metering to brighten shadows and reduce contrast.

Widely regarded as one of the top five wedding photographers in the world, Jerry Ghionis’ theatrical and iconic images have redefined modern wedding photography. Jerry's style can be described where vintage glamor meets contemporary fashion. Jerry’s most recent passion is the creation of his non-profit charitable organization named The Soul Society ( View his work on his website at and at his ambassador page.

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