Sunday, March 10, 2013

Argus - The C3 Brick!

Manufactured in 1939 after the Argus C (a non-coupled rangefinder camera), and well into the 60's when sales slumped dramatically with the dated and clumsy design, and not to mention the introduction to cheaper and high quality Japanese rangefinders, like the Yashica Electro variety of Rangefinders.
The C3 had a typical era rangefinder, which was a military style split rangefinder instead of the usual image on image type found on other Rangefinders, like Leica, Canon, Nikon, etc.
But it also had the same thing that Leica and Canon had to offer.  Interchangeable lenses.  The lens could be unscrewed (although this was a four step process).
The lenses on the Argus, though, are very good.  The 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar is a basic triplet design, but is remarkably sharp.  The aperture blades are circular and give some excellent out of focus distortion, and a smooth transition    Not to mention some decent Bokeh.
The design of the C3 gave it its nickname.  The Brick.
The "brick-like" shape not only defined the camera, but was one of its many charms.  The camera was durable, robust, but ultimately, it was heavy!  Weighing in at almost 760g it is a very heavy camera, and becomes tougher to hold after long periods of time.  In fact, it's the same weight as my Canon FTb.  That's almost 2lbs of camera!
The simple design, and simple ergonomics of this camera lead it to be one of the most popular cameras of the time, and considering it ran for almost 3 decades as one of the top selling rangefinders, that made it one very successful camera.
The lens on this camera, the 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar is a very sharp and quite contrasty triplet lens.  The lens is very easy to clean, and even comes apart exceptionally easy.

The camera itself, although heavy in hand, is actually not too difficult to use.  Just focus using one viewfinder (the Rangefinder) window, then a quick move of the eye, and you can compose and take the photo.  Sure, it's not the easiest method to shooting, but it works.  It makes shooting action scenes a little difficult, especially if you are using a wide-open aperture on the lens.

Film advancing is fairly painless, unless you forget to release the frame advance lock.  Then you can turn the WIND knob all you'd like.  It won't budge!  (or at least it isn't supposed to)..
Loading the film is easily accomplished, and taking photos is really straight forward.  Just remember to move your finger off and away from the cocking lever.  I've had the shutter get stuck open a few times because I forget to move my finger away from the lever.

But, for sample images, this camera doesn't disappoint!

Basic Quick Specs;

  • Argys C3 35mm Rangefinder
  • Split-image style Rangefinder in difference viewfinder
  • Interchangeable lens
    Standard 50mm ƒ.3.5 Coated Cintar is attached
  • 1/10s to 1/300s +Bulb
  • 41mm slip-on filter size
  • M/F synced at all shutter speeds
  • Three Bladed manually set Leaf-Shutter
  • 759g with 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar & no film.
Until next time, keep those shutters firing!

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