Using Sekonic L758D with the Zone System

Using the Sekonic L758D with the Zone System - A quick guide to taking spot readings and using the LCD to display tonal relationships and scene contrast.

Sekonic L758D LCD displays scene contrast as well as Zone System tonal relationships

Time needed: 1 minute.

How to use your Sekonic L758D with the Zone System

  1. Turn the meter on

    and set it to the reflected light mode for 1-degree spot meteringsekonic-L-758D zone system

  2. Set Shutter Speed Priority

    Note “plus” and “minus” display along the bottom of LCD display. The middle “0” reading represents Zone 5 or middle 18% grey. The numbered markings are plus and minus one stop deviations from middle grey. So Zone 4 = “-1”, Zone 3 = “-2”, Zone 6 = “+1” and Zone 7 = “+2”sekonic L758D

  3. Clear any previous readings

    using M.CLEAR button, press until only the middle LCD indicator is flashing at zeroSekonic L758D and Zone System

  4. Take a low light reading

    for Zone 3 (dark grey, just seeing texture) and store in MEMORYSekonic L758D and Zone System

  5. Take another two mid grey readings

    of a general area of interest (middle values) and store in MEMORYSekonic L758D and Zone System

  6. Take a high light reading

    for Zone 7 (luminous grey, with texture) and store in MEMORYSekonic L758D and Zone System

  7. There will now be 4 indicator bars

    equal to the number of readings along the bottom displaySekonic L758D

  8. Turn the jog wheel to place low reading (Zone 3) on the -2

    and note how the other indicators fall along the bottom of display, especially the highest value (furtherest to right)
    Zone system digital meters

  9. Keep hold of the MID.TONE

    and read off the f stop and shutter speed, this is your exposure for your chosen placement.Sekonic L758D and Zone System

  10. If your high value (far to right) exceeds +2 Zone 7

    then consider reducing development accordingly (ie N-1, N-2) or change the composition

Analog versus digital displays

I have recently started using the Sekonic L758D with the Zone System. For over 30 years I have used a Pentax digital spot meter. In 2009 I had the entire circuitry replaced when the display suddenly stopped working. It is my understanding that Pentax no longer makes this meter.

I purchased the Sekonic L758D as a backup. It has multiple functions, including flash, but its menu and display are no match for Pentax’s simplicity of use. I currently use both meters.

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Since 1989, Alex Bond has published cards, calendars, books, and posters under his imprint Stormlight Publishing. His images showcase the West Australian environment. Bond's handcrafted, silver-gelatin, fibre-based prints are personally made by the author in his darkroom.

Articles: 110


  1. I have the 758DR, and don’t ask me why but it’s quite a bit different than yours. I meter my scene, then hold the MID.TONE button while twirling the knob until readings fall where I want them on the “Zone” scale, then use the f stop and speed indicated. Once you release the MID.TONE button, for any reason (like changing the aperture), the settings (f/stop and speed) return to the original settings, so you have to remember the settings. This is way more complicated than the 758D, but it can be done.

    • I am not familiar with the L758DR. As far as I understand, the main difference between the L758D and L758DR is that the latter has the radio card for pocket wizard communication. If you are using the method I describe for the L758D, just make sure you are in aperture priority mode. With the L758D I can move the saved light readings up and down the exposure scale while holding down the Mid.Tone button and rotating the jog wheel. The chosen aperture will remain constant as the exposure time changes. If I release the Mid.Tone button, I can then adjust my aperture up or down by rotating the jog wheel. Then, if I press the Mid.Tone button again, I can scroll the saved metered values up and down the scale with the correct times for the new aperture. I would be interested to hear if other L758DR owners have the same problem you are experiencing.

    • We’re good, Alex. This explanation showed me the error of my ways…my DR behaves just like your D. I just misunderstood what you were saying in the original post. Thx! BTW, the use of the MID.TONE button as described works in all modes (F, T, EV) both incident and spot. At least that’s so on my DR. And just so everyone else understands, once you adjust the jog wheel while MID.TONE is held down, it will revert to the original settings (f stop & T) when you release the button. You have to note the settings while the MID.TONE is held down; those are the settings you want to use.

  2. Hi. I have tried again and again as you describe in the article and I do not get the right times. In the article you say first set shutter priority and then aperture priority. Am I missing something?

    • Hi Paco, set your meter to shutter priority display. You should see the T sign to the left. Clear the memory of any previous readings. Turn the jog wheel to set your preferred working aperture. Note, this is NOT setting the meter to aperture priority display. Now take the readings as I have described in the article. Hope this works for you.

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