James's Light Meter Collection: Spectra Three-Color meter
Spectra Three-Color USAClick for instruction manual
Maker: Photo Research / Spectra
Model: Color meter (aka Three-Color meter)
Circa: 1949
Cell type: Silicon
Measure type: 2D Incident
Original Battery: two TR-113R (4.05v each)
Modern Battery: two PX25 (4.5v each) and some way to compensate

I know that this meter came out at the end of 1948 because Google scanned back issues of Popular Photography magazine, and this appears as a blurb in the November, 1948 edition, p. 151. So you can say all you want about them but I for one welcome our new overlords; and the more I think of it, the more I figure that if Google did run the country, they wouldn't do as poorly as the people who've been in charge for the past few decades, regardless of party.

My copy of this meter came with the original hard case, a box with the original batteries, abut no instructions. This is where Google pays off again because Popular printed a small blurb about how to use it, which I quote here:

The meter is pointed at the light source, and a diaphragm is rotated until the pointer is brought opposite a red mark on the scale. This sets up the instrument so red content of the light is taken into consideration. Then a trigger is pulled, which removes a red filter from in front of the photo cell and puts a blue one in its place. Color temperature now can be read direct from the scale. A hemisphere is provided for averaging readings when light of different colors affects the picture.

If it's like anything else Photo Research (PR) made, they made it for a hell of a long time before updating it. This one was replaced by the Tri-Color meter of the 1970s.

Click on any of the photos for larger versions. Left is the "back" of the unit, with the meter face, the switch, and the battery chambers (top). The middle image shows the front of the unit (note the trigger) and the Lumi-Sphere in place. The right image shows the unit with the Lumi-Sphere removed so you can see the filter masks.

Spectra Three-Color meter faceSpectra Three-Color with Lumi-SphereSpectra Three-Color with Lumi-Sphere removed

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