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The Watkins Meter Company was a maker of photographic light meters in Hereford, England. It was founded after Alfred Watkins received a patent on his light meter in 1890. The Standard Meter was at first made by R. Field & Co. of Birmingham; the Watkins company took over production in about 1900. The meter exposes a small area of a strip of light-sensitive paper, which darkens on exposure. The time for the sensitive paper to darken to match the tint of the surround of the slit is the third input parameter to calculate appropriate exposure time for a given f-stop and plate speed, with help of the instrument's calculation scales. The later Watkins Bee Meter is smaller, and shaped like a pocket watch, but its principle is the same. It exposes a small area of a disc of sensitive paper in a slit. Several special versions of the Bee meter were produced[1], including the de luxe Queen Bee, Studio and Indoor models scaled for lower light, a Focal Plane model scaled for fast hand-held shutter speeds, models for Autochrome plates and other colour media, for cinematography, and meters incorporating a compass or a Swiss stopwatch in the case. These models differ mostly in the scales, and the fixed tint to which the sensitive paper is compared. The simplest model, the Snipe, is for cameras without variable shutter speed, and simply determines if there is sufficient light to take a photograph.

The Wynne's Infallible meters are very similar in both style and principle to the Bee meters. Watkins continued producing meters into the mid-1930s.

Watkins also sold some timers and other darkroom items.


  1. Brochure, around 1912 (to judge from testimonials from the Scott and Mawson polar expeditions) at Ciné-Ressources


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