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When I first started in film photography, I was at a bit of a loss to find a really good light meter. I tried a few different options until I finally stumbled upon the Sekonic L-358. From then on, it was love. Because of it's simplicity of design, usability, and pricepoint, I consider this the best light meter for film wedding photographers.
Since there's plenty of technical/spec articles and info out there on the L-358, I won't go too much into detail on all the features/uses of the L-358. Instead, I'd like to focus on my user experience and what I think the L-358 is great for.
How I Use the Sekonic L-358
My primary use with the L-358 is for wedding and engagement photography, which means that I'm using it for portraits, candids, landscapes, details, and all the rest. I simply set the ISO by pressing one of the two ISO buttons and turning the dial, then proceed to meter for the shadows by placing the bulb out away from the light, in the shadows.
I have found it to be highly accurate in terms of obtaining correct exposure. I've tested two L-358s in the same lighting and have received consistent results between the two units.
Since I'm often carrying multiple camera bodies with different types of film loaded in each, I make use of the two ISO buttons very often. Each button can be set to different a different ISO. "ISO 1" will be the default display on the L-358's screen, but when the ISO 2 button is pressed, it will show the appropriate settings for the ISO that you've set.
I currently own two Sekonic L-358s and have found them to be pretty sturdy (for a light meter). Now, with that said, you don't want to drop these things. They are plastic and feel like you could snap them in half without too much effort.
The most common issues with build quality seem to be the rubber jack covers and the battery door latch. The rubber jack covers tend to rip and the battery door latch can break off.
Some Things Lacking
The Sekonic L-358 does not have a color temperature meter. Now, this really isn't a big deal if you're shooting portraits or landscapes in natural light. But, for some uses, for example, which require flash and adjusting/gelling lights, it would be nice to have.
Replacement part availability is another thing I wish we saw more of for the L-358. I have an L-358 with a broken battery door latch that I have secured with a rubber band and/or tape for probably around a year. It would be great if parts were readily available for issues like that.
The L-358 is not weatherproof. This is worth mentioning because there are other models which are, such as the Sekonic 758.
Of little importance to me, the L-358 is pretty basic. It doesn't not have options for video, which is of little importance to me since I'm using it almost exclusively for incident metering scenes for stills.
Where to Buy Sekonic L-358 Light Meter
We bought both of our Sekonic L-358 Light Meters off of eBay. We recommend using a seller that has good reviews and a good return policy.
To check out the available Sekonic L-358 on eBay, click here!
Final Thoughts on the Sekonic L-358 Light Meter
Though it isn't the most illustrious, the Sekonic L-358 has plenty of options for photographers looking for consistent, reliable exposure readings. As of the writing of this article prices for the L-358 can vary between $160 and $250.