|Favorite Classics Cameras Argus C3|
by Kar Yan Mak
Being a fan of the classic German 'folders' (folding cameras like Kodak Retina and Welta Welti) I was not too attracted to the so-called/bragged "brick" camera, the Argus C3. Some attempts of reviving some cameras were not successful but after I purchased Ed Romney's book, "Revised Basic Training in Camera Repair" lightning has struck me by Ed's words...he said, "Practice with the Argus C3...this popular old 35mm is easy to work on, cheap if bought used." ...hmmm... music to my ears, 'cheap' and 'easy', that's the two words I like to hear. Therefore I went ahead and got my hands on an Argus C3 Matchmatic, which had a foggy RF and an original Argus C3 which had a sprocket problem.
The first impression on the "brick" matches it's name, basically a "brick" with dials and glass. The pointy edges are not comfortable to hold. The operation is very basic and that's why it makes it easy to repair for people who doesn't even know anything about cameras. The worst feature prize on the Argus C3 must go to the shutter cocking lever, it's too close to where one would grasp the camera while composing and ready to shoot. Argus even warns you in the manual to not put your fingers there or else it'll ruin the exposure. It has both a viewfinder and rangefinder window, so if you feel that the rangefinder is off you can use the viewfinder and guess-timate the distance.
There are more than three versions of the Argus C3 but to simplify, these are the more notable ones. The first one is the well known classic Argus C3 (1939-66) with the black exterior. Secondly there is the Argus C3 Match-Matic (1958-66) which is basically a facelift of the C3 with a two tone finish. What makes the Argus C3 Match-Matic special is that there is a non-coupled selenium meter available, LC-3. According to McKeown's Price Guide to Classic & Antique Cameras, it must be complete with the meter to be valued as a collectible. Last but not least there is the Golden Shied (Argus C3 Match-Matic), besides from the special exterior trim it is the same as the C3 Match-Matic. As said in an issue of Popular Photography, the C3's were sold in millions from the late 30's through the 60's. Gosh, I wonder why :)
Three lens that I know available for the C3's are the following: Sandmar 35mm f/4.5, Tele-Sandmar 100mm f/4.5, Soligor 135mm f/4.5. Amazingly all these lenses are at least worth twice the amount of money than the C3 "package" with the normal Cintar 50mm f/3.5 lens. There are quite a few of accessories available for the Argus C3 cameras and they may be found on the Argus Collector's Group Homepage (see "Related Links" below).