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Argus C3 "The Brick"

The Argus C3, a range finder camera affectionately known by its many lovers as "the Brick", is an artifact right out of the early mid-19th century machine age. The front of the camera is covered in gears, and it could easily pass for a highly specialized scientific measuring device at first glance. It is constructed of heavy Bakelite and metal, so you can guess that it's about as heavy as a brick...hence the nickname.

When I found this beauty, I had been looking for a fully manual camera to force myself to
learn a little bit more about photography. Well this camera is as fully manual as it
gets. The rangefinder focuses from 3 ft. to infinity, the aperture can be adjusted
continuously from f3.5 to f16. The shutter, which is cocked manually, can be set anywhere from 1/300 to 1/10 with a B option as well. The frame counter is a unique system with a numbered dial that turns in a complete revolution for every frame. The lens comes off, so could be replaced with a different option.

When I saw this camera in a camera repair shop, I was so attracted by it’s rugged good
looks that I had to get to the internet as soon as I could to learn whatever I could find out about it.
Here’s what I learned:
-It was mass produced from 1939 – 1966 in Ann Arbor, Michigan, USA
-So many were made that they remain fairly inexpensive even 40 – 70 years later.
-It was cheap and durable, so it outlasted much of its competition, and the same design, only slightly modified was popular for three decades
-many people credit this camera with making 35mm popular in North America

One note for those of you who want to try one out: once you’ve cocked the shutter, get your fingers out of the way. Many times I have snapped only to find that I’ve obstructed the shutter cock, and exposed the film for longer than I wanted.

Even though this is not a Russian camera, or a lovely Lomography legend, I certainly feel
like a lomographer when I’m carrying it in it’s original leather case around my neck.
When I am snapping with this gem, bystanders know that something interesting is
happening.

Oh yeah, and when I dropped it on my living room floor, it took a chunk out of the
hardwood and the next shot turned out just fine.

written by dirklancer

10 comments

  1. weechonghooi

    weechonghooi

    oh~!!! is camera is WILD~!!

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  2. sadmafioso

    sadmafioso

    I just got myself one of these. And it really DOES feel like holding a brick!

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  3. superlighter

    superlighter

    good looking camera and also good looking shots! I like the night shots a lot!

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  4. mephisto19

    mephisto19

    maybe i'll buy it...

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  5. strangelilgirl

    strangelilgirl

    I love the doubles, and the humor I've come to count on finding in all of your reviews, hehe.

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  6. mattcharnock

    mattcharnock

    nice review dude - and a great camera!

    almost 6 years ago · report as spam
  7. hanspan

    hanspan

    tasty!!

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  8. orlando_a

    orlando_a

    haha! im not surprised the camera damaged the floor instead of the other way around. they don't call it the brick for nothing. I just got one from the thrift store the other day and i think it can probably kill someone. double exposure no. 21 is fantastic!! that little girl couldn't be in a more perfect spot on the dog's face.

    over 5 years ago · report as spam
  9. didjitalsin

    didjitalsin

    man.. you're lucky... tony vacarro use this camera on WW II, and he compared with robert cappa quiet often coz he's more closer than cappa, off course because he's a soldier at that time, unfortunately he did'nt get any recogbition for that coz he's not a photographer, but anyway check on BBC, the series of "genius of photography".... and i want this camera so bad.. :)....

    over 4 years ago · report as spam
  10. phantomphoenixphotos

    phantomphoenixphotos

    "Oh yeah, and when I dropped it on my living room floor, it took a chunk out of the
    hardwood and the next shot turned out just fine." Made me laugh. :) I kinda like heavy cameras. Wish I could try one of these.

    over 2 years ago · report as spam