James's Light Meter Collection: Wollensak Fastax
Wollesak Fastax Meter USA
Maker: Wollensak Optical and Weston
Model: Fastax (Cine)
Circa: 1960
Cell type: Selenium
Measure type: 2D incident

The most unusual light meter I own. Paid $1.36 for it on eBay. I never knew such a thing existed.

The Wollensak Fastax was a high-speed 16mm movie camera. Consider that most movie cameras run at 16 frames per second (silent) or 24 fps (sound)—the Fastax could hit 5,000 fps! Used for industrial and scientific work, it was quite a machine.

This is the light meter for it. Reads directly in foot candles, and the scale changes depending on which fitting goes over the eye. On the reverse there's a calculator dial. You set the fps, find the foot candle reading and it'll tell you the aperture.

According to the book, The Weston Story, this meter was designed around the Weston Model 755.

A couple things to note. One: this thing is huge. It looks like a large carpenter's plane, plus it's steel and it's heavy. You can't tell from this angle, but the bottom is flat and the dial is set at an angle so you can set it on a table and comfortably read the dial. (The calculator is on the back).

The other is that it's calibrated for seriously bright light. Again it's hard to see here, but there are two filters on the front, and they revolve so you can rotate one or the other (or neither) over the eye. Unfiltered, the eye reads up to 3,000 footcandles. Maybe mine's weak, but I had to shine a small flashlight right on it to get 500 footcandles. The two filters take it up to the 30,000 and 300,000 foot candle scales!

I doubt I'll take this one out on a hike.

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