How to Use a Sekonic Light Meter to Determine Contrast in a Scene

October 06, 2015  •  4 Comments

In this video today I share my technique that I use to determine the contrast (dynamic range) of a scene.  I use this information to determine my development method (N Normal, N+ Expanded, N- Contracted).  Based on this information I then meter my scene and mark the film for my development method for later use in the darkroom.  This technique only takes seconds in practice and gives me the information I need to make an informed decision.   

I am using a Sekonic 758 light meter in spot meter mode, but this also works the exact same way on the older Sekonic 558 meter as well.  This principal can be applied to other meters with similar capabilities.  

I look forward to your comments in the area below.  Enjoy the video and subscribe to my YouTube channel for similar content.  

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Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Rolf, you can post pictures on my timeline over on my Facebook page at and we can continue the conversation there if you want. Thanks!!
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Hi Tim,

I might take some picture of the meter display (after all my English is not that good) to better explain it. I there a way to post this here? There is another similar meter of the profiling (able to measure flash too), forgot the name. The Gossen has a scale for Zones too linked to the display of EV-measures, but the needle display is superior, in my opinion. (No display in the spotmeter optics though). R.
Tim Layton Fine Art
Hi Rolf, thank you very much for sharing this information. I think this will be very helpful for people.
Rolf Schmolling(non-registered)
Hi Tim, while I do own an older Sekonic spotmeter it's suffering from some kind of problem with actually waking up on start properly. I prefer to use my Gossen Profisix with the Spotmeter attachment. My procedure (if I bother to measure contrast, especially with smaller formats) would be so: search and measure the brightest thing, put it in VIII (the Gossen has an analog dial for shutter speed/aperture sets, which is linked to the analog meter needle, which needs to be zeroed in for Zone V) – which means the analog needle shows a (+)3 on the "sunny" side of the scale and I can then measure at length and directly read the contrast range to other parts of the image subject. The display has a range of 6 steps, three into each direction.
Very ingenious and – in my opinion – easier to read. The Gossen Profisix is not cheap but definitely not in the price range of the Seconiks. The spotmeter attachment is huge but the optics (to look through I mean) are nice. All available only used, but I got the meter for 80€ (I actually have two of them) and the spotmeter attachment for sth. like another 80€.
No comments posted.

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