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

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 on 2008-11-25 #gear #antique #35mm #rangefinder #review #manual #machine-age #bakelite #kick-ass #argus


  1. weechonghooi
    weechonghooi ·

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

  2. sadmafioso
    sadmafioso ·

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

  3. superlighter
    superlighter ·

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

  4. mephisto19
    mephisto19 ·

    maybe i'll buy it...

  5. strangelilgirl
    strangelilgirl ·

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

  6. mattcharnock
    mattcharnock ·

    nice review dude - and a great camera!

  7. hanspan
    hanspan ·


  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.

  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.. :)....

  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.

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