Different Piece of Photography Equipment (207/365)

by Lee Santiva July. 26, 2019 245 views
Argus C3 analog camera aka "The Brick" - black & white

Argus C3 analog camera aka "The Brick" - black & white

I thought about using this camera for today's blog however, I ended up taking pictures of it instead of with it.

The Argus C3 analog camera really is a very "different piece of photography equipment". It is called "The Brick" not only because of its shape but also because of its weight which is over 800 grams. Very heavy indeed.

The Argus C3 sold over 2 million units in its 27-year production history, making it the most successful rangefinder camera until the single-reflex cameras came on the market in the 1960's. *

The Brick from the back and reflected in a mirror - black & white

The Brick from the back and reflected in a mirror - black & white

While I was visiting relatives in Chicago about two months ago I inherited the camera because no one else wanted it. "Let's give it to Lee, she loves photography!" No one knew whether it even worked anymore, because it hadn't been used in decades, most likely not since the 1950's. That's 70 years ago. Perhaps it had a value to collectors?

It was difficult to find a shop which could assess it, and as it turns out, there is only one specialized camera repair shop in the Chicago area who could do it, located in downtown Chicago on Jeweler's Row.

The 70-year-old expert took his time and looked at it very carefully and finally said it would cost around $80 to clean and overhaul the entire camera as well as repair the broken rangefinder. The rangefinder is separate from the viewfinder and is coupled to the lens through a series of gears located on the outside of the camera body.

Defective Range Finder on Argus C3

Defective Range Finder on Argus C3

He said it would take pictures since shutter, film advance and other mechanical parts were working OK. When I use it, I would just have to adjust for the defective range finder manually. The sights wouldn't line up as they should but I could compensate for that by trial and error and by calculating in my head, he said.

"Oh boy. I don't want that hassle" I thought. I've gotten so spoilt with my new digital camera and I enjoy the ease of use so much. I would be thrown back to the stone age of cameras. Would using the Argus C3 be an enjoyable photographic experience or a frustrating nightmare?

Shutter speeds on the Argus C3

Shutter speeds on the Argus C3

What could I find as a motive to photograph with seven wierd shutter speeds and non-functioning range finder in order to fill up a roll of 36 exposures? I probably couldn't shoot the full 36 in one session either, which would mean multiple sessions without knowing whether I was doing anything right.

He was an honest man and he told me I could buy an Argus C3 in perfect working condition for around $20 on ebay. Mine had a Leica lens which made it slightly valuable if I sold it for parts. Obviously I could immediately forget the idea of selling it to a collector.

"What did I want to do?"

Hinge to open the Argus C3 camera

Hinge to open the Argus C3 camera

I still didn't know what I should do.

Spend $80 to repair a camera that I probably would not use, or if I did use it, it would only be used once out of curiosity? If I don't get it repaired right now at this special shop, the shopkeeper might be retired by the next time I go back to Chicago. There's certainly no one near where I live in rural Germany who would know how to fix this ancient American-made analog camera.

What should I do?

Re-wind knob and tripod socket

Re-wind knob and tripod socket

I left the shop with The Brick in my hand, and paused outside of the building on Jeweler's Row. There was a garbage bin conveniently located right in front of me. Should I just throw it away? It was awfully heavy to schlepp back to Germany, but on the other hand, it was an inheritance and … it has a full set of filters!

Filter accessories for the Argus C3 camera

Filter accessories for the Argus C3 camera

What would you do? What do you think I should do?

Sources:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Argus_C3

https://camerapedia.fandom.com/wiki/Argus_C3

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17
There are 17 comments , add yours!
Jay Boggess 1 year, 4 months ago

WOW! Nice work on this weighty classic!

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Jay Boggess 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks Jay have you ever used one?

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 4 months ago

I have never used one of those all manual, film cameras. I've just started taking pictures about 5 years ago. My first camera was a little Sony "point&hope" pocket camera. My first DSLR is a Nikon 5200 (APC), which I still use regularly. I have a Nikon 750 (full frame) and a Panasonic mirrorless, micro four thirds. All 3 are digital.....I'm pretty satisfied with what I have for now....Good luck with your "Brick".....(((GRIN)))

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 1 year, 4 months ago

Not sure how much sentimentality you have toward it? I wish I had kept my family first 35mm camera the Pentax K100,, if for nothing but to display,, it was strictly manual and film, Looking back now I became very skilled at exsposure etc,,, now I rely more on techno features vs using my own calculations, soo in conclusion if you have the cash fix it and enjoy the challenge 🙂

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Lynn F Medley 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks for commenting Lynn. No sentimentality with this item I never saw it being used, it was in a cabinet unused for like 50 years.
I guess I will try it out before getting rid of it,once I’m retired and have more time.

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lynn F Medley Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 4 months ago

👍

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Russell Smith 1 year, 4 months ago

If it were me I would have it repaired if I had the extra cash. In working order it is worth more plus honestly while I do not shoot a lot of film I do like shooting it .

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Russell Smith 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks Russell, have you ever used such a fully manual camera before?

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 4 months ago

Not one that old but I did use some of the nikons (1977 model I forget its number). I do like a meter in the camera body but with film if you understand the sunny 16 rule set you can get close to a good exposure most of the time and films dynamic range is great for highlights not getting blown out.

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Björn Roose 1 year, 4 months ago

The answer is: make up your mind smile Keep it, get it repaired, throw it away, any choice is okay in this case.

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 4 months ago

Perhaps give it away is another option?

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Björn Roose Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 4 months ago

You're even doubting the number of alternatives ? smile Your brain is gonna melt down if you don't watch out, especially with these temperatures ...

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Björn Roose 1 year, 4 months ago

yes, I’m melting! 41,8 C on my bicycle’s trip tracker just a few minutes ago. 
Well, I did eliminate selling on ebay, so that’s a start…😀

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 1 year, 4 months ago

Keep it,try to use it. Maybe in Germany there are more people who can repair it. Only the filters and the lens are worth keeping itm

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Berckmans Peter 1 year, 4 months ago

Thanks for responding Peter, how could the lens be re-used?

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Berckmans Peter Replied to Lee Santiva 1 year, 4 months ago

I have checked and the lens should be interchangeable, with a screwmount. If that is the case there gonna be an adapter for it on the market. Probably it will be M42 srew mount.

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
Lee Santiva Replied to Berckmans Peter 1 year, 4 months ago

Really helpful Thank you!

1 year, 4 months ago Edited
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