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Old Feb 8, 2012, 8:45 PM   #21
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Spot metering meters a 3.5mm circle around the locked AF point, so, yes, you need to be precise. (I don't know what happens when you haven't locked focus, but my guess is that it uses the center.) You should probably select the center AF point, if you haven't already. (See page 43 of the D5100 Reference Manual.)

At night, when the vehicle still has its lights on, the license plate is the only thing that will be bright, so spot metering is the only way to get it exposed correctly. But since your state's plates use black characters on a white background, you've probably got a little bit of wiggle room there, so you might be able to get away with center-weighted. Center-weighted metering meters the entire frame, but uses an 8mm circle in the center of the frame for 75% of the measurement. If you can get good shots with center-weighted metering for the plates, that might be the best thing to get a good exposure for the face.

Does your state require plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle? You might be able to shoot the front of the vehicle as well, but if they leave their headlights on, you might have some trouble.
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Old Feb 8, 2012, 10:44 PM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TCav View Post

Does your state require plates on both the front and rear of the vehicle? You might be able to shoot the front of the vehicle as well, but if they leave their headlights on, you might have some trouble.
They require plates on the front too, but it doesn't have it's own lamp like the rear does, plus the headlights overpower the plates.
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