Watkins Bee Exposure Meter

This is the Watkins Bee Exposure Meter, patented in 1890. This is a pocket-watch sized version of the original light meter produced by Alfred Watkins. It uses round disks of light-sensitive paper and required counting how long it took said paper to reach a specific darkness. It is one of my favorite non-camera items in the collection.

Here is some documentation included with the box and here is the full manual.


  1. I had one of the early ‘extinction’ meters – make I can’t remember (I think it started with “L”). You viewed through it to see which was the last in a series of progressively shaded numbers you could see and applied that to the chart that scrolled around the exterior. It didn’t use ASA or DIN speeds either. These early aides to exposure were sometimes little better than a guess!


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