What Is Spot Meter on GoPro Cameras? (Plus Tips to Use It)

As a GoPro user, you have probably come across a GoPro spot meter and wondered what it does. This article will discuss its definition, how it works, and which GoPro Hero models have it.

When I am shooting videos with my GoPro camera, I want control over basic camera settings, including exposure. This way, I can take beautiful and clear shots.

Most of the time, the GoPro’s default settings are more than enough for everyday documentation. However, there are instances when I want to achieve other effects that best fit a particular scene.

Fortunately, GoPro cameras include a spot meter function to change exposure settings. So if you are wondering what this feature does, read on!

This article will walk you through everything there is to know about the GoPro spot meter on your camera!

What Is A Spot Meter on GoPro Cameras?

The GoPro Spot Meter is a great feature to have if you are shooting scenes with uneven lighting. That is because it only uses a small area in the center of the frame to set the automatic exposure. 

The word “spot” comes from its use of the small central area of the shot. So if the center is well-lit, the camera only focuses on that part and adjusts the exposure accordingly. It does not affect other areas of the frame because it ignores these parts.

Overall, spot metering lets you capture and emphasize what matters most by exposing only that part of the image. Thus, it produces better-looking videos and photos, even when you suffer from uneven lighting across the frame. These include instances when you are shooting under harsh sunlight or have too much backlighting.

How Does GoPro Spot Meter Work?

By default, GoPro cameras automatically set the exposure of your shot. It does this by looking at different areas of the picture. Then, it will measure how bright or dark they are. After that, the GoPro will calculate the average amount of light within a scene to achieve the perfect exposure. Most of the time, it does this accurately, producing perfectly exposed shots.

However, things can get tricky when you have uneven lighting conditions across the frame.

For instance, shooting under bright sunlight will result in underexposed shots if the subject, such as people, is standing in drastic darker areas. In a reverse situation, if the GoPro camera is in a dark place and you are shooting something bright, it can produce overexposed shots.

The need for the GoPro Spot Meter arises during these situations.

This metering mode does not look at the whole shot and averages the exposure based on this entire scene. Instead, it uses a small area in the center of the frame to set the automatic exposure. In short, it only focuses on the center and how well-lit this part of the frame is. It ultimately ignores the other parts of your shot outside this central area. 

So if you are shooting in bright sunlight or with too much backlight, the GoPro Spot Metering can still give you better-looking results.

When To Use GoPro Spot Meter?

Now that you understand how the GoPro Spot Meter works, you are probably curious about the different occasions to use it.

To reiterate, the Spot Meter will determine the exposure of the entire scene based on the brightness of the central area of the shot.

Hence, it is best to use the GoPro Spot Meter when your subject is in the center of the shot with little or no movement. A great example of this is if you are shooting from inside a vehicle and looking out through the windshield. The spot metering would focus on the subject and calculate the proper exposure.

Another instance where it makes perfect sense to use GoPro Spot Meter is when you are in a bright place and shooting a darker scene. For example, if you are trying to take pictures of the cave while standing outside near its entrance. The spot metering would know how to choose the correct exposure.

The same could be said in a reverse situation when you are standing in a dark place and focusing on a brighter scene. For instance, you are filming yourself while snowboarding or skiing. The GoPro camera would use its spot metering to set the appropriate exposure based on the center of the frame, which is your face.

When NOT To Use GoPro Spot Meter?

There are also several scenarios when you should avoid using your GoPro’s Spot Metering.

For instance, if your GoPro camera moves a lot and your scene will change, this feature might give you unwanted results. That is because there will be areas that require a lot of light while others need none. Hence, the spot meter will have a hard time calculating the changes in the center of the frame.

You should not also use the GoPro Spot Meter when shooting scenes with even lighting across various elements, such as landscapes. You will be better off letting your GoPro do its thing and determine the exposure automatically based on the brightness of the entire frame.

Which GoPro Cameras Have Spot Meter?

Most GoPro Hero models offer the spot meter function. However, in many recent cameras, this feature is called Exposure Control. I will discuss it briefly in the next section of this article.

But for now, I will list the GoPro cameras with the spot meter option below.

  • GoPro HERO10 Black*
  • GoPro HERO9 Black*
  • GoPro HERO8 Black*
  • GoPro HERO7 Black*
  • GoPro HERO7 Silver*
  • GoPro HERO7 White*
  • GoPro HERO5 Black*
  • GoPro HERO6 Black*
  • GoPro HERO5 Session
  • GoPro HERO Session
  • GoPro HERO4 Black
  • GoPro HERO4 Silver
  • GoPro HERO4 Session
  • GoPro HERO3+ Black
  • GoPro HERO3+ Silver
  • GoPro HERO3 Black
  • GoPro HERO3 Silver
  • GoPro HERO3 White
  • GoPro HERO+ LCD
  • GoPro HERO+
  • GoPro HERO
  • GoPro HD HERO 960
  • GoPro HD HERO2
  • GoPro HD HERO

GoPro models with an asterisk refer to those with Exposure Control.

The SD HERO camera does not have Spot Meter and Exposure Control.

What Is Exposure Lock?

Also known as Exposure Control, this feature works in the same way as the Spot Meter because it also calculates the exposure based on a small part of the frame. However, it is more flexible due to the fact that you are not limited to the very center of the shot anymore.

Exposure Lock or Control allows you to choose the area on the frame that the camera will focus on when calculating exposure.

Furthermore, Exposure Lock works pretty accurately. It is a powerful feature that comes in handy for many shooters. There is no need to worry about keeping the subject center to achieve proper exposure when you have uneven lighting.

How To Use Spot Meter on GoPro Cameras?

By now, you understand what the GoPro Spot Meter feature is and why it is important. The next thing to know is how to use it.

If you want to use Spot Meter on the latest GoPro cameras, you need to hold your finger on the back screen until a little box appears. This is the area of the frame that your camera will use to determine the exposure for the scene.

Feel free to move the little box by dragging it around to any spot in the frame. You also have the option to lock the exposure area or auto-expose to that area, depending on how bright or dark the light will get.

Overall, using Spot Meter on GoPro cameras increase your flexibility in shooting.

However, there are still a few downsides to take note of. First, this feature requires you to have access to the back screen to use it. So when you are shooting underwater, you will not be able to take advantage of this option. Second, you will need to set the option again every time you turn off your GoPro. That is because the camera will forget that you used the Exposure Lock, which can be quite a hassle.


That concludes this article about GoPro Spot Meter or Exposure Lock feature. Hopefully, you learned a thing or two about what spot metering can do for your photos and videos and how you can take advantage of it. Thanks for reading!