Abstract The SPARC photo-injector is an R & D facility dedicated to the production of high brightness electron beams for radiation generation via FEL or Thomson scattering processes. It is the prototype injector for the recently approved SPARX project, aiming at the construction in the Frascati/University of Rome Tor Vergata area of a new high brightness electron linac for the generation of SASE-FEL radiation in the 1–10 nm wavelength range. The first phase of the SPARC project has been dedicated to the e-beam source characterization; the beam transverse and longitudinal parameters at the exit of the gun have been measured, and the photo-injector settings optimized to achieve best performance. Several beam dynamics topics have been experimentally studied in this first phase of operation, as, for example, the effect of photocathode driver laser beam shaping and the evolution of the beam transverse emittance. These studies have been made possible by the use of a novel diagnostic tool, the “ emittance-meter” which enables the measurement of the transverse beam parameters at different positions along the propagation axis in the very interesting region at the exit of the RF gun. The new idea of extending the e-meter capabilities came out more recently. Information on the beam longitudinal phase space and correlations with the transverse planes can be retrieved by the slicing technique. In this paper, we illustrate the basic concept of the measurement together with simulations that theoretically validate the methodology. Some preliminary results are discussed and explained with the aid of code simulations.