I've had requests to write a very simple guide to getting
the Sekonic L358 exposure meter. So here it is, in very simple terms.
Please let me know if any portions of this article are not clear.
Your feedback is greatly appreciated. --Eddie.
(Hey, after enjoying this article, you can come make some photo friends at the ILP forums.)
Some assumptions: There is a fresh battery of the correct type in the meter. You will use your camera in full manual mode, because you don't need and don't want to use its in-camera meter now...you've got the L358!
Turn your L358 meter on by pressing the power button. If you forget to shut it off when you're finished...not to worry...it will automatically shut itself off, thankfully. Ü
Now that you have that set, you have a choice of metering for flash, or for available light. Let's do available light first.
Metering for available light:
Since your camera is in full manual mode, you'll be able to set its aperture and shutter speed independently, and they'll stay there. In auto mode on the other hand, the settings change with the amount of light in the scene...which is not always a good thing because the camera can be fooled by bright backgrounds, dark clothing, etc. But in full manual mode, the settings stay right where you put them...this is a good thing! More control...and the camera can not be fooled.
Most photographers like to pick an aperture to use, and then measure how much light there is for that aperture. This is where the handheld meter comes in so handy. You pick your desired aperture on the L358, then it tells you what shutter speed to use with that aperture. This is called using the meter in aperture priority mode, very similar to aperture priority on your camera. Here's how to do it:
Putting the L358 in available light, shutter priority mode: There are times when you want to pick your shutter speed first (instead of the aperture), and you don't really mind what aperture you set -- for example, in sports photography. Say you want to make sure you shot at 1/500th second, and let the meter tell you what aperture to use. This would be using the meter in shutter priority mode. Here's how to do it:
While pressing the MODE button in, turn the wheel until there is a box around the sun symbol, AND, there is a box around the "T". This will mean that you have the meter in available light, shutter priority mode. Now simply turn the dial (without pressing any other buttons) until you see your desired shutter speed (the shutter speed you want to shoot at). Then aim the white dome at the light source, and press the activation button once (on the side of the meter). The display should now show you the recommended aperture reading to use. Set your lens' aperture to this setting, and you're good to go.
Metering for strobes
If you're new to metering strobes, then let's keep things simple for now: use a sync cord with one end attached to the meter, and the other end attached to the flash/strobe. Also, for simplicity sake, set your camera to 1/60th sec. and leave it there. Yes, leave it there...most every camera will sync with strobes at that speed (or under). (Note: if you have a Pentax67, the sync speed is 1/30th sec.)
Note: Some photographers advise to aim the meter's dome toward camera position. Depending on factors such as how even your lighting is overall (fill lights, reflectors, etc.), this works well. However, if you shoot with one light source and little fill, try aiming the meter's dome as I suggest in the instructions above... toward the main light source. This will give you a reading that will help you avoid overexposing the highlight side of the subject. Still, some photographers say always point the meter toward the camera postion... with practice, you'll gather what works best for you.
All for now!
(If you have any questions, try the message board at ilovephotography.com. Hope to see you!)