This page was created before Firmware Ver.3.00 was released for the X-T1, which allows users to interlock AF points and Spot metering. Goes to show Fujifilm is listening.
While testing the Fujifilm X-T1 for my review, something interesting about Fujifilm’s metering was brought to my attention. I’m typically not a big spot metering person, but understanding how it behaves is certainly of value when it comes time to use it. Fujifilm’s spot metering (and as it turns out, centre-weighted metering) behaves in a way I didn’t expect.
With my previous camera system, the “spot” metering is based on is the user-chosen autofocus point. This makes perfect sense from a user-experience perspective; I’ve set my camera’s metering mode to spot, and I’m choosing where I want the camera to focus. Logic suggests that is also where I’d like the camera to meter from.
Fujifilm’s cameras, on the other hand, disregard the chosen AF point, and instead meter based on the centre of the frame. No matter what. The camera presumes that whatever is in the centre of the frame is what you’d like to set your exposure to.
Here’s a super simple diagram to show you what I mean:
1. My chosen AF point and the part of the frame I expect metering to be based on.
2. The part of the frame metering is actually invariably based on.
Metering also doesn’t account for the entire contents of the AF square, only a mere 2% of the total frame is taken into consideration. Increasing or decreasing the size of the AF box makes no difference. Based on my testing, it appears exposure is determined right where the crosshair intersects; 2% might actually be generous. This is fine, but I would prefer and expect it use the crosshair I choose rather than always using the centre one.
To test this yourself, turn on spot metering, put your AF point in the middle and then adjust your composition so that the AF point moves between a light and dark area. This works as expected with the exposure preview adjusting based on where the spot is. A Fujifilm box is a good test subject. You can watch metering change us you drag the very centre crosshair across the white text on the black box.
Now, keep the camera in place, and move the AF point from a dark area to a light area. The live exposure preview will not change. This confused the heck out of me at first. I thought I had set something incorrectly, but then I realized what “spot” the camera was metering from. I can only imagine what it would be like for a new user. You might be thinking that maybe it’s only the centre 9 Phase Detect AF points can be used for metering as I did. Well, even when I choose any of those points, metering is still based on the centre.
I’m surprised I haven’t noticed this until now, but for me, it’s an odd way for metering to behave. Yes, I can use the exposure lock button, but that’s an added layer of complexity. It’s also possible I’m just not used to this method, and every other camera maker does things this way aside from Nikon. Again though, consider how a novice photographer would approach this situation. In my opinion, metering the way in which I’ve grown accustom makes much more sense. Nikon has it right.
A number of readers have emailed me to point out that this is in fact how “Spot” metering is described in the manual. This is correct, of course. The exact verbiage is:
The camera meters lighting conditions in an area at the centre of the frame equivalent to 2% of the total.
First of all, the number of people who emailed to point this out is actually quite a bit lower than the number I’ve seen respond online who were also surprised by spot metering being exclusive to the centre of the frame. This is clearly an indication of how many people read the manual, and either how many are/were Nikon shooter, and/or how many expected the “spot” in Spot Metering to be based on the AF point like I did.
Secondly, the manual’s description doesn’t actually include the word “spot” anyhere in it, but “centre” is referenced. Perhaps it really should be called “centre-weighted.” It sure would be nice if the percentage of the frame were also adjustable.
If I were running things, I would update the icon for “Multi” to be more indicative of what’s actually happening. The verbiage for this mode is:
The camera instantly determines exposure based on an analysis of composition, color, and brightness distribution.
Again—and I don’t think it’s simply a matter of what I was used to—I think Nikon’s “Matrix” metering icon says exactly what it does, and it seems to be pretty much exactly what Fujifilm’s “Multi” metering mode does too.