Highlight-weighted metering is the go-to choice when you are photographing a spotlit bride in her wedding dress, a ballerina on the stage, or whenever you are faced with uneven lighting and a background that is much darker than the subject.
Choose highlight-weighted metering to meter highlights.
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." In contrast, highlight-weighted metering automatically detects and meters highlights for optimal exposure with less washout (and less fiddling with the camera).
Highlight-weighted metering takes the color of the light source into account to prevent overexposure.
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 underexposed. Use exposure compensation to achieve the desired result.
Highlight-weighted metering eliminates overexposure even in highlights with a strong color cast.
The following are situations in which highlight-weighted metering should be used only with caution:
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.
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.