I was out on the first day of shooting with my X Pro-1, and I came across this curious little camera in the storefront window of an antique store. I’ve seen these cameras over the years here and there in the ‘used camera’ section of various local camera stores. It was while taking this image that I once again became nostalgic for film cameras.
The camera in the image is an ‘Argus C3’, a low-priced and rugged little ‘brick’ that was made from 1939 to 1966. I understand that it was a very popular camera that helped make the 35mm format popular. It had what is called a ‘Diaphragm Shutter’ that was simpler to manufacture than a focal plane shutter. The plethora of knobs and gears on the outer body of the camera made for a rather unique appearance and gave the camera a somewhat industrial appeal.
There is something about a vintage style camera that really draws me to them. Years ago I owned a couple of wonderful Nikons, the Nikkormat FTN, circa 1974 and the original version of Nikon’s first compact 35mm SLR, the Nikon FM in a black body. I really enjoyed those cameras and miss them. I sold them back in 2008 thinking that film was dead. I was wrong about film, thankfully so.
My choice in digital and 35mm is now a classic rangefinder style camera. They look very similar in appearance but function in ways that are worlds apart. Although I can ‘make’ my digital captures have the look of my 35mm rangefinder, it is definitely not the same. The simplicity of the film camera gives it a unique quality that I feel some aficionados of the pixel world may be missing. Then again, I could be way off base. Either way, it’s what makes you feel good when you hold it in your hands, and whether it works for you and your style of snapping that shutter.
The Argus C3 was discontinued in 1966, having become outdated after a run of nearly 70 years. Not too bad for an old brick.