James's Light Meter Collection: Macbeth RD-505 Color Reflection Densitometer
Macbeth RD-505 Color Reflection Densitometer USA
Maker: Macbeth
Model: RD-505
Circa: tbd
Measure type: Color Reflection Densitometer

This is obviously not a light meter, but I'm listing it here anyway until I find a better place. It does measure light and it is a photographer's tool, it's just a bit different in the job it performs.

A densitometer is a lab machine. They come in two types, reflection and transmission. Reflection densitometers are used on prints, transmission on flim transparancies (slides or negatives). Either way, they do the same thing. They emit a given quanity of light and measure how much of it is reflected back or passes through film. The less light that is measured means the greater the density of the spot that's being measured.

This is extremely useful if you're evaluating how an emulsion reacts to light and chemicals, and changes in each. Any zone system book that deals with darkroom work will (Ansel Adams's The Negative and The Print are great examples) will explain the theory and process in detail.

Macbeth used to make and sell quite a range of these machines. Once in awhile I find one at an electronic junk shop and pick them up. Usually they have no idea what they are. Macbeth is gone now, sadly. X-Rite now sells their ColorChecker board, and they also had their own line of densitometers. I do not know whether they acquired Macbeth or just parts of the business.

.This is a reflection densitomer. Unlike my transmission types, I do not have the owner's manual for it and I haven't tried using it. It's in a bit rough shape, but like all my Macbeths, it really just needs a going over with a mild cleaner and a cloth. This one lived in a case where the foam rubber turned into a sticky goo, so it looks the worst of the bunch.

If anyone has the owner's manual for this unit, I would be grateful if you would send me a copy or point me in the direction to find it.

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