I will buy a used Sekonic l-358 and I want to know what should I test to check that it's working fine. And how to check that? I heard about the grey card and the camera meter reading but I don't know how to use it?

I can buy new Sekonic l-308s with the same price. Do you think that the features of Sekonic l-358 worth getting it used instead of new Sekonic l-308s.

Basically will use two or three flashes with reflectors for portrait photography in studio and on location with one or two flashes.

  • Hum. If you do not know the diferences between the models, you most likely will be fine with the smaller but new one. n_n
    – Rafael
    Apr 6 '18 at 16:12

Since you do not have the appropriate test equipment, the best test will be to shoot a few test rolls and examine the outcome. That being said: Seek out a local minilab photofinisher; they should have an instrument called a densitometer. This is a device that passes a beam of light through developed photographic film and assigns a numerical value to the amount of light that makes it through the material.

Procure a gray card from a photo dealer. The gray card has gray surface that reflects 18% of the ambient light. Use a film camera loaded with a moderate speed film. Compose a picture making sure the gray card is predominant in the scene. Make sure the image of the gray card comprises about ¼ of image area. Use the light meter to read the exposure settings using the just the gray card as the target. The meter placement must be such that it receives only the reflected light from the gray card.

Shoot a series of pictures that include and bracket the meter reading setting. I suggest 1 or perhaps ½ f-stop increments. Use placards included in the scene so you can correctly identify each frame and the exposure used. Use only the camera’s aperture setting to make this series, the shutter speed to be constant.

Have the roll developed by the photofinisher. Have the photofinisher read the values of the gray card with the densitometer. If black & white film, have them read the visual values (Yellow filter). The visual value trims the instruments response so it matches the human eye. If the test is preformed using color negative film, the Red reading is the significant value.

The densitometer returns values in density units. This is the language of photo science. The 18% gray card reads the log base 10 value of 18% = log of 18 ÷ 100 =0.18 now 1/0.18 = 5.556 now log base 10 of 5.556 = 0.75. This is the value you are looking for. A spot-on exposure of a gray card provided the developing is spot on, reads 0.75. This value on the film is elevated by the value of the clear film (base fog). Suppose the base fog reads 0.10, then the gray card will read 0.75 + 0.10 =0.85.

Now each f-stop delta (change) elevates or depresses this reading. The delta for 1 f=stop is 0.30. However, this assumes a gamma of 1. Pictorial films with a gamma of 1 are too contrasty. Pictorial films generally have a gamma of 0.8. This being true, the delta for 1 f-stop change is 0.30 X 0.8 = 0.24. In other words a 1 f-stop over exposure will read 0.85 + 0.24 = 0.99, whereas a 1 f-stop under exposure reads 0.85 – 0.24 = 0.61. The delta for 1/3 f-stop is 0.08; the delta for 1/2 f-stop is 0.12.

By now you know this post is filled with gobbledygook, meaning there are lots of pitfalls to run a test on your meter. In closing, a visual trial and error test is likely best as opposed to using instrumentation.

  • Don't forget that for this exercise the 18% grey card must be illuminated correctly (to avoid glare) from 45° to the camera-subject axis. The card comes with instructions, usually, that must be followed to be useful.
    – Stan
    Apr 7 '18 at 15:57
  • This answer is one that will work with either ambient lighting or flash lighting as the actual measured result is observed independent of the readings for verification. Complex answer that can be easily understood by anyone with a knowledge of sensitometry. : )
    – Stan
    Apr 7 '18 at 16:12
  • @ Stan -- Thanks -- For many years I headed a department that made test films to calibrate color and black & white printers for the photofinishing industry. Apr 7 '18 at 18:34

A quick check is that in bright sun, a light meter should normally indicate near EV 15 at ISO 100. This is approximately f/16 at 1/125, or Sunny 16 would say f/16 at 1/100 second (ISO 100). Or equivalent exposures of course, f/11 at 1/250 or 1/200 second, or f/8 at 1/500 or 1/400 second, etc. Not precisely EV 15, bright sun could often at times be a bit lower, and this will vary slightly with air clarity and angle, haze, time of day or season, etc. The meter indicates the precise value.

The L-308S has everything you need. It does not have all the frills, but it has every necessity. It reads the light, which is the goal. It does not have aperture priority (L-358 does), but this is really not very important (its shutter button directly converts). Flash in the studio is shutter preferred anyway (flash cannot use aperture priority). The L-308S wold be perfect for your use. I invite you to My review of the L-308S at https://www.scantips.com/lights/handheld_lightmeter.html

  • WayneF, Thanks for the helpful answer. I see in your profile that you have the linked website in your profile. If you are associated with the site, please disclose the affiliation in the answer. I removed the link for now as I wasn't sure how to correct it. It's certainly a minor portion of your contributions and perfectly ok to link, but you need to disclose the nature of your relationship with the site clearly in the answer to be in line with promotional link policies for Stack Exchange. Thanks.
    – AJ Henderson
    Apr 7 '18 at 13:40
  • @AJHenderson The link was to one of the longest standing and best sites on the internet for photography. It predates photo.stackexchange by years. Wayne has provided a most reliable and accurate sources of information to my knowledge. I have used his recommendations without modification and always gotten wonderful results. Disclaimer: Not associated; but, as you can tell a longtime very devoted fan.
    – Stan
    Apr 7 '18 at 15:34
  • @stan I agree, this isn't meant as a disciplinary thing, just something that needs clarification. It's fine to have the link, but Wayne's profile gives the appearance of affiliation. If that's the case it needs to be clearly indicated. If not, simple classification of that is fine. The link removal is only intended to be temporary until it can be clarified.
    – AJ Henderson
    Apr 7 '18 at 15:41
  • 1
    @AJHenderson I understand and agree with you 100%. I had to steal the opportunity to extend kudos to an asset for all of us.
    – Stan
    Apr 7 '18 at 15:46
  • 1
    Thanks very much Stan. AJHenderson, this is a weird site, but I put the link back, since it is the major contribution, valuable to anyone asking about a meter. I thought "I invite" made it pretty clear before, but I added "my" to it. Doesn't the profile clarify it? Hope it is helpful about meters.
    – WayneF
    Apr 7 '18 at 16:53

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