The GoPro Hero3 spot meter: when to use and how it performs

Your GoPro Hero3 action camera is quite capable despite its fixed lens and small form factor. It has a spot metering Preference that performs well if the subject in the centre of the video frame blows out when light metering is standard.

In the GoPro Hero3 Settings menu, you have an item that reads “Capture Settings”. Under this submenu you will find an icon that refers to the camera’s Spot meter. The GoPro Hero3 spot meter works just as any ordinary photo camera’s spot meter: only those objects that sit dead centre in your picture frame will be used for setting the proper aperture/exposure value.

What you might not know, is that Spot meter mode on the GoPro Hero3 also works when in video mode. I’ve included a 15 seconds clip that shows you clearly how spot metering improves upon detail and correct lighting when shooting a fountain the sun is shining on, while the camera is handled from within a shadowy area. The clip shows the spot meter effect and then the default light meter results.

There is one caveat with spot metering in the GoPro Hero3: it’s a bit slow. It took the Hero3 three seconds to adjust to the fountain’s bright white water gushing out. Of course, when you move away from the spot metered area in video mode, the camera auto-adjusts within the same time span, so once you start panning, you lose the ‘previous’ measurement and setting.

One way of dealing with this is to put the Hero3 back into its standard light metering mode and re-start panning so you can edit in post later, but that also requires either a steady hand or the use of a tripod or other fixed stand that enables you to mount the GoPro Hero3 in exactly the same spot.

To view a large version of this clip, click here.