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This page shows some of the smallest light meters. There are others, but these were the smallest I owned, plus some bigger ones for comparison. It might help you to decide which one to buy. Here they are:


From left to right, by row
Polaroid #625, #635, Gossen Sixtomat, Metraphot MF (Leica), 3x Bewi Automat
Gossen Polysix, Sixti, Sixtino, Metraphot MF+Booster, Kodalux L, Bewi Piccolo, Piccolo II
Gossen Sixon, Sixti, Réalt, Soligor uf, Metraphot 2, Bewi Electro
Gossen Sixticolor, Wein Flash Meter 500B, Gossen Sixtomat f, my reference

Just recently I came across the tiniest light meter ever built, so it's not on the comparison photo. It's not built for an ordinary accessory shoe, it's for the Tessina camera accessory holder. Nevertheless I want to show it, just to let you know what was possible.

The size is 26.5mm x 22.2mm x 9.8mm, weight 19.5g. The dented wheel couples with the aperture wheel of the Tessina and gives you the shutter speed to set. It makes the Tessina a semi-automatic camera. Most of these meters are dead. I was lucky to get a working one in a bundle with the camera.

And another tiny recent purchase:

A Minox Meter, built by Gossen. It's 55 x 30 x 18 mm and it weighs 53gr. It has a viewer to aim precisely. Meter next to a Minox A. There are more pictures here (link will open in a new window).

Let's now begin with the tiny ordinary ones. They are all mountable on your camera's accessory shoe:

The smallest and lightest of all, it's the Bewi Piccolos. This is the basic version with a very limited scale.

Bewi Piccolo II, better version with a wider scale. These Bewis are a bit fragile due to ageing glues.

The Metraphot 2 was the tiniest meter before the Bewi Piccolo was launched. This model is known to be fragile as well and has a limited DIN/ISO scale (6 to 160).

This Kodalux (made by Gossen) is the tiniest "full grown" light meter. "L" stands for linear (modern) time scale. It's the small version, there is a bigger Kodalux L, a twin of the Sixti. It even comes with a built-in diffuser.

The next 3 models are size-wise ex aequo in my opinion, but different build formats, only slightly bigger than the first ones.

These are 2 versions of the Bewi Automat. The Automat is magic, you push the button, the scales swirl, and if you release the button they stop and indicate the convenient choice of speed/aperture combinations. This is very handy. These 2 are working, but it's known that there are a lot of dead ones around.

The Gossen Sixti is a small an sturdy meter with 2 ranges. It's easy to match the needle and easy to read. It has the old time scale. You can slide the mount to make it fit your camera. A very nice meter for older cameras. One has a built-in diffuser.

The Metraphot MF has 2 ranges plus a third extended range if the booster is mounted. It's the most sophisticated tiny meter. As its also called Leica Meter (it was bult to fit the Leicas), it's sought after and quite expensive, but it's fun to use.

The next 2 are special Polaroid meters originally made for the older roll film Polaroids, which used the EV (Light value) system. This system was promoted by Anselm Adams, who was a councelor for Polaroid in those days. The system was adopted by other firms for some time like for the Zeiss Super Ikonta IV (which nearly all have a dead built-in meter) or the russian Iskra. So they might be handy for other EV cameras (but most of the standard meters indicate EV values as well).

The Polaroid #625 meter was built by Gossen in Germany. It's relatively small, sturdy and has a good range. It comes with a choice of mounts.

A Polaroid #635 meter, built in Japan. It has a smaller range. Seems to be uncommon.

That's it for the small shoe mount light meter section. If you want to buy one, keep in mind that they are about 50 years old and check, whether they really work. Often the needle in a dead meter still moves when you move or shake the meter. Amateur sellers just see it move and sell it as working. The scales in a dead Bewi Automat still swirl, they just always stop at the same point, no regard whether there is light or not. A good selenium meter is fine in most circumstances. No hassle with batteries. Only in very low light they might fail. Don't forget to check whether your camera's time scale is a modern (linear) or an old one.

Here are some hand held light meters.

The Gossen Sixtino is a very small, sturdy hand held light meter. It has a good range, the modern time scale and a built-in diffuser. I have several of these and I use them a lot.

The Gossen Sixon is a very small, simple hand held meter. It has the old time scale, range is o.k., low light capacity is limited. It has a built-in diffuser and a red/blue filter estimating device. This one lacks its nameplate. The filter estimating device indicates blue light on the photo. It's incredibly simple, but it works.

This Gossen Sixtomat is a professional meter from the 1950's, often called x3 version. It has a very wide range, both time scales, a built-in diffuser and
a red/blue filter estimating device on the back side. It's bigger than the Sixtino, but still pocketable.

The next 2 are CDS meters, so these need a battery.

The Soligor UF is a very small, very flat light meter, very easy to use, 2 ranges, so it covers all basic needs. It takes nearly no room in your pocket. I love it for its simplicity.

This is my Sixtomat flash, my professional meter and my reference. I bought this one in the 90's, an identical model is still on the market, and there are several brand editions. For me it's a perfect professional meter, easy to use, several modes, including flash. All you need, so to say. It's not small and quite expensive, so I don't carry it around in the streets. This one has suffered a lot and it still works perfectly.

That's it for the meters. Below the "back" button there are some miscellania, which came with camera lots, just for fun.


Let us begin with the oldest meter of all, the Gossen Ombrux.

The Gossen Ombrux was launched in 1933 by Paul Gossen and was the first selenium meter for photography. It has 2 ranges, low light capacity is very good,  and it was calibrated to 15 DIN (25 ASA) and F9. This was a kind of revolution for photographers. The meter already integrated the DIN system, published in early 1934, a first official standard. The ASA standard followed in 1943. The meter has a big lens in front of the cell and has several tables printed on metal sheets to calculate time/aperture for different DIN values. The meter was followed in 1936 by the Ombrux 2, which had integrated dials to calculate. My meter still works perfectly!

The Réalt luxe is a professinal French meter from the 50s. It comes with different scales, insertable under the needle for easier reading and a built-in diffusor. Although I have a manual, it seems a bit complicated to explore all its capacities. Its quite big. Still working fine.

The Bewi Electro Super is, despite its name, a selenium meter from the 30s. As the scale is attached to a rubber band for easy reading, nearly 100% are non-working, as this one.

The Polysix electronic is an early CDS meter. It has a prism device to show you what you're aiming at, the metering is done by turning the scale until both LED are lit. It has 2 ranges, low-light capacity is quite good. It's big, easy to use and sturdy.

The Gossen Sixticolor is light colour measuring device. You have to hold the matte screen side towards the light source, the needle will indicate the colour of it and guide you which filter to use. There are settings for different type of films, like "daylight" and "tungsten".

The Wein WP500B is an early flash metering device. It's extremely simple to use. Put it on, place it next to the camera and flash. The needle will indicate the reading for 50 ISO, the little dial helps to convert for other ISO values. It's big and sturdy.