Gossen built-in exposure meters

Update: 08.05.2012

Gossen also made built-in exposure meters for several camera manufacturers. There is not much documentation about this field of Gossen products.

The way to find out is to look at camera's and discover if there is a lead to Gossen. This can be seen by the name on the photocell cover, the name or Gossen logo on the control or by looking into the sensor. Sometimes it is documented in the user manual, the specifications or in the add for the camera.

The Name Gossen is imprinted at the back of the multi lens frame in front of the actual sensor. There exist several different types of exposure meters depending on how the meter has to control the camera. So most work is in the mechanic coupling of the meter.

As a sample I dismounted a Kodak Retinette 1b camera to obtain the built-in exposure meter parts. Unfortunately this is destructive for the camera. Remarkable is the very fine chain used to drive the aperture of the camera.


Kodak Retinette 1b

Obergassner KG

Obergassner was one of the oldest trade companies, in 1889 established by Michael Obergassner in Munich. they sold cameras first under the name Hubertus and later under the name OGA, but these camera's were actually Franka cameras.

Kodak Retina

Kodak itself was not really a manufacturer of light meters. They mostly bought them on the market, branded with their name. With the Retina we can clearly see the name Gossen behind the sensor.

Also the KODAK Retinette Ib Reomar was equipped with a Gossen exposure meter.

Franka Solida II L

The Franka was made by the Franka-Kamera-Werk. The history of the company goes back to the firm Franz Vyskocil who already made metal cassettes for camera's before 1910. In 1910 Adam Weigand overtook the company and the new company founded was named "Vysko Kamerawerk Vyskocil & Weigand." However the company exist until 1912 and a new company was founded with the name "Frankonia-Kamerawerk Weigand and Tabel" as a manufacturing and trade company by Adam Weigand and Karl Tabel in Bayreuth-St. georgen. In 1913 the company changed into "Franka-Werk" and taken over by Wolfgang Hirschmann. In 1938 the first Solida was produced. At 11th of November 1961 the company was sold to Gebr. Wirgin who ended the company in 1967. Franka made branded camera's for Porst, Quelle and Karstadt.

The Franka camera's with the designator L contained a built-in light meter. By the II L it is very clear by the name Gossen on the cover of the cell.

Franka Solida III L

Also the Franka Solida III L is a camera equipped with a meter from Gossen.


The Mec 16 was made by Feinwerktechniek GmbH, Kamerawerk, Lahr/Schwarzwald in the Lotzbeckstrasse 13. Dr Georg Schaffler, owner of the INA bearing company, started this company at the 25th of October 1957. The company developed the MEC 16 'kleinstbildcamera' since 1957 and was followed by the MEC 16 SB in 1960. The company moved to Herzogenaurach. In 1961 the production was ceased.

MEC16 SB, a 16mm camera which was launched in 1957. The lens is Rodenstock Heligon 1:2/22mm with diaphragm working on principle of "cat's pupil". The MEC 16 SB was designed by A.Armbruster. It is the first camera with built-in exposure meter, capable of measuring the light through the lens - so called TTL. Though it is not a single lens reflex camera (which is not important at all), it has to get recognition for being the first camera having a serially integrated exposure meter (Gossen), capable of measuring light through its picture-taking lens, connected. (Maker: Feinwerke Technik Gmbh Germany)

King Cita III.

The King Cita III is made by King KG, Regula-Werk. Am Ulmenweg 4 Bad Liebenzell. At the first of July 1936, Pius king started his own company and made parts for radio and electro industry. After the WWII the company was completely dismantled. In 1949 King started rebuilding the company and because of his interest for photography he developed camera's since 1950. The first model the Regula was produced until 1963 in a total of 500.000 pieces. in 1980 the company name was changed in "Regula werk King & Bauser GmbH." Owners Herbert King and Wilfried Bauser. However the company went for chapter 13 in 1984. A new company started with the name "Regula vertriebs und service GmbH" only this lasted till may 1992.

The King Regula III was equipped with a Gossen built-in exposure meter.

Kodak instamatic 500
Kodak instamatic 500 with built-in Gossen exposure meter. The name Gossen can be recognized trough the little lenses in front of the meter.

I am looking for a Kodak Instamatic 500 to dismantle so it may be defective.

Diax L 1
The Diax camera was made by Walther Voss GmbH. The Diax-Kamera-Werk in Ulm Germany, untere Kuhberg anlage. The company was founded in September 1946. End of 1947 the first "diax camera" was shown. In 1950 the production moved to the Bleichstrasse and the office was in the Blaubeurer strasse. The name changed to "Diax-Kamerawerk". The diax camera was further developed into a system camera and in 1952 produced. A selection out of 5 lenses was possible> Different models followed also including an exposure meter. On 31 December 1957 the company was closed.

Rollei 35

In Braunschweig the camera design was adapted to the parts as available from Rollei's suppliers, Rollei did not maintain business relations with Metrawatt and Steinheil. The lens was chosen to become a high-quality Tessar, which was made-to-order by Zeiss. Rollei's light meter supplier was Gossen. The question of whether to use a photovoltaic selenium sensor or a CdS photo resistor, finally resulted in favor of the CdS, in August of that year. While Gossen indicated the same measuring range for both solutions, a selenium-cell powered light meter was about 3.50 D-mark cheaper and got along without battery. However, the much smaller CdS-photoresistor provided a more stylish look, a more shock-proof instrument and that the "CdS" could be used more advertising-effectively. The housing needed to be changed only slightly, since Waaske had unintentionally adopted the appearance of Rollei's twin-lens reflex cameras by placing the exposure and aperture controls to the right and the left side of the lens. Nevertheless Rollei's designer Ernst Moeckl refined the housing in particular by changing the edge radius, and the camera looked even smaller !!

Balda Baldina B

The history of the balda Baldina camera is confusing because  the camera with the same name has been made by two different factories one in east Germany and the other in West Germany. The company was initially founded by Max Baldeweg. 20th of November Max Baldeweg founded his company 'Fabrik photographischer Artikel Max Baldeweg' in the Donathstrasse, Dresden-Laubegast, Germany. At first the company produced 'Kasetten' (cassets) of all types. The company expanded very quickly and the new address became from 1912 'Nalda-Werk Max Baldeweg, Dresden- Tolkewitz, Wilischstrasse 1.' 1913 the brand "Balda" was registered. In 1915 the co-manager 'Heilbronner' left the company and from that point on, Max Baldeweg was the sole manager of the company. The mass production of the camera started Balda in 1925. Aprox 1932 the company with some 1000 employees manufactured many hundred thousands of the popular 'Balda-box' In 1935 the first Baldina 35 mm models were manufactured. Tot 1937 Max Baldweg owned all the shares of the GmbH of the family and managed the company as sole owner.
During WWII about 60% of the factory buildings were destroyed and in the Klagenfurter strasse 52 a new factory was created. End of 1945 Max Baldeweg left east Germany and started a new company in West Germany. The old 'Balda Kamerawerke' was confiscated and renamed to VEB and renamed to a Industrieverwaltung Optik' in 1951 the name "Balda-werk" was changed into "Belca-werk VEB".

Aka Arette IB

The Arette IA was a 35mm viewfinder camera made in Germany by Apparate & Kamerabau, introduced in ca. 1956, and produced with many model variations until 1963.
Apparate & Kamerabau,  Friederichshafen-Seemos, Am Seemooster Horn. The Brothers Dr. Eugen & Dr. Max Ambruster registered Apparate & Kamerabau feb. 5 1946 in Bad Wildbad. In 1947 they started with Ambruster Kamerabau and the first kamera was the Akarette already with interchangable lenses.

The Arette IB has a built in light meter made by Gossen as can be seen on de dial on top of the camera.


Copyright E. van der Aa 2010, All rights reserved.