Sixtomat exposure meter.
The Sixtomat, manufactured by Gossen in Erlangen Germany, is
a exposure meter to be used for photographic and cine purposes. The meter
only measures reflected light. The sensor can be shut off for light by a
metal rolling blind. This roller blind protects the sensitive parts of
the meter like the sensor and the glass of the reading scale. The blind
is made of special V2a rustles steel.
The Sixtomat has been made in
different versions and also in different colors. Most common is the black
version rare are the dark blue and dark red versions. The first
production date is around 1950 and since then a large number of these
meter have been made. Later on this meter has been improved and merged
into the Sixtomat J the Sixtomat X2 and the Sixtomat X3. There are some
minor differences in the production versions like the color of the scale
on the film sensitivity knob and the knob itself. The meter has been
developed shortly after the Sixtus 2. The Sixtus 2 is the first post WW2
meter since 1936. The Sixtomat is a complete new design after the well
An application for the German patent was done on December 24 1949, the USA patent
for the Sixtomat was requested at June 2 1950
by P. Gossen & Co. GMBH Erlangen Germany under number 2,699,087. The inventors
are the son of Paul Gossen, Hans Gossen
and Erwin Pfaffenberger.
In December 1950
the American Cinematographer has placed an article in their magazine
presenting this meter; "Sixtomat. New,
Automatic Exposure Meter." The Sixtomat is being imported and
distributed in the USA by the Mitropa Corporation, New York City and
the retail price in that time was about US $32.50. This article
describes the function of the meter extensively. But in the issue of
Popular photography September 1950 we already see an advertisement for
the fully automatic Sixtomat.
It is clearly an automated version of his
predecessors, the Photolux, Ombrux, Blendux, Cimbrux, Sixtus,
Ombrux 2 and Sixtus 2. The red button
for changing the sensitivity of the meter is now incorporated in the
When rotating the knob, you can see the scale changing from
red to black or vice versa. A internal switch changes this sensitivity
accordingly, replacing manual pressing the button. It is a meter of the
next generation of Gossen exposure meters for photographic and cine
purposes, measuring reflected and incident light (some of them) by use
of what Gossen called the 'rollo' a movable blind. The electrical
function of the Sixtomat is still based on the older predecessors with
the red button on top. This button enables the meter to measure with
different light sensitivity. This function is incorporated into the
Sixtomat but invisible for the user because it is mounted on the axle
were also the knob is mounted. The sensitivity changes when the scale
goes from black to red and vice versa. In the newer versions of the
Sixtomat this function has been removed. The notch on the axle is still
there but the switch has been removed at the same time the metal roller
blind has been replaced by a diffuse one enabling the meter to measure
reflected light en when the blind is in front of the sensor. also to
measure incident light.
The first Sixtomat exposure meter, from the early fifties and still
available in the early seventies so it last for more than two decades. In a Gossen brochure from 1971 it
still available and in the meantime, more than 1.500.000 meters have
been produced. The types that are manufactured are as far as we know the
Sixtomat, the Sixtomat X2, The Sixtomat X3, the Sixtomat Deluxe I, the
Sixtomat J. Even between the meters of the same type, there are
differences in manufacturing. Also there are meters made in different
colors but of the same model, like the Sixtomat normally in black is
also in dark blue and even in dark red. The Sixtomat X3 has been made
with a complete transparent housing.
The Sixtomat is the first meter where the meter element has been made
shock proof and drop resistant. The galvanometer coil moves on jewel
bearings which in turn are spring loaded.
Gossen and Leica.
During time, Gossen has made several versions of their meters especially
Some of them are recognizable by the word Leica or just the "L" on the
scale or the meter itself but some others have no special mark but can
be recognized by the values on the scale. Because Leica uses different
values for exposure times, the meters need to be adapted.
On the scale of the Ombrux for Leica we can see 1/8, 1/20, 1/30, 1/40,
1/60, 1/100, 1/200, 1/500 while the normally used values are 1/25, 1/50,
1.100, 1/250, 1/100.
There is a mystery left concerning the versions of the Sixtomat. In time
I have seen 3 meters with the designation Sixtomat N on the cardboard
box but no clue what this version exactly is. So if anyone can help me
out with this please do.
For an overview of al the different meters known see
Special thanks to Richard W Holzman
and Simon Spaans for additional information and articles.