Just Another Brick In The Hand…

DSCF8469I never owned an Argus C3 until I bought one from eBay. I had seen them in the hands of schoolteachers and retired hardware clerks, but never wanted to shoot pictures with one. Since obtaining this one I have indeed run a roll of film through it, but I will probably never experience the desire to do so again.

It is not that the pictures were bad – they were reasonably sharp and well-exposed. The problem was the sheer clumsy clunky awkwardness of using the thing:

You wind on with a knob on top and rewind with a knob on the bottom. Fine, I can cope with that – I’ve shot a Leotax and a Wicca. I’ve got fingers…

You set the aperture with a stud round the lens ring. Okay, I’ve shot classic 3.5 Elmars. I can keep those fingers off the front element…

You set the shutter speed on a front-face dial. Odd spot, and it feels like I am winding up a time bomb, but still do-able…

You focus with your left finger on the edge of an aluminium gear. A big gear. Which rotates through an aluminium idler to the edge of an aluminium gear on the lens. Three precise aluminium gears with two interacting meshes. Oh, this is gonna go smooth…ow, ow, ow,

And then you cock the shutter with a spare lever on the front of the bakelite body. It feels like you are firing a 1952 Roy Roger’s toy cap pistol.

And then you press the shutter button…except it isn’t a button. It is a shaft – a rod – a towering piece of pipe set up above the camera. It is reminiscent of a toilet flush button, and has all the silky smooth travel of a crowbar in a rat hole.

DSCF8470

The other part of the Argus that riveted my attention was the hinges for the back that were riveted on the side of the casing. Steampunk well before it became cool – The kind of design finesse that made Bethlehem Steel famous in the blast furnace world.

Well, I own it. And it only cost $ 25. And it may be the foundation of a whole new camera one day. BTW, it is synchronised for flash. Possibly with arc lamps. Possibly with magnesium powder…

 

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