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Argus C3 35mm Camera

Updated on November 2, 2011
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My Argus C3
My Argus C3

Most Popular 35mm Camera

I am in the process of redesigning my web site, Retro Ads and Graphics. As I went through the picture files, I came across this ad for an Argus C3 35mm camera. Then I remembered…I have this camera in the basement! Last year I helped clean out the closet at the house of a relative. One of the many older items we found was a camera case containing an 8mm movie camera, a Minolta SLR 35mm and an old Argus C3.

My first thought was “WOW - A vintage camera in mint shape! It must be worth money!”After doing a bit of research, I found out that it was not. It is worth about $35 on eBay.

The Argus C3 was mass produced between 1939 and 1966, making it far from a collectable. This camera, despite its current low value, was the best-selling 35mm camera in the world for almost 30 years, and had much to do with making 35mm film format popular. I can only imagine that millions of images these cameras caught in all those years.

The C3 was commonly called the brick, due to its obviously brick shape and weight. It was made up of of Bakelite plastic and metal castings. It had a simple diaphragm shutter built into the camera body, which made it easy to use interchangeable lenses without the need for a focal plane shutter. The C3 had an impressive number of knobs, gears, buttons, levers, and dials, which was one of reasons it was so popular. It looked cool and complicated. If you had this camera, people probably assumed you were a professional photographer. Or perhaps people thought you were a genius because you knew how to operate it.

The Argus C3 was a tough camera and held up to abuse. While fancier and more expensive cameras fell apart, the C3 outlasted most of its American counterparts, as well as the German-built cameras and the cheap high quality Japanese cameras that were finding popularity in the 1950s.

Cameras eventually became easier to use, and all the knobs and gears started failed to impress consumers living in the modern space age of the 1960s. The C3 was all but obsolete in 1966 and discontinued in that year. Over the 30 years it was made, there were times that the C3 was failing to sell. When Argus announced its discontinuation, people rushed to by them, causing Argus to change their mind. But in 1966, that was the end.

The C3 is over 70 years old, but it is still popular with 35mm film photographers – at least until film is no longer available. The C3 is easy to find, as I have found, and easy to repair.

It would be cool to retro fit this camera with digital guts and make it into a steam punk digital camera. It’s a brick, but it an awesome looking brick!


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    • TTC12 profile image

      TTC12 6 years ago

      I was kind of kidding about making this digital. It just looks like a cool camera. It is a way too heavy to use. The viewfinder and focus system is terrible, as well.

    • profile image

      Arlene V. Poma 6 years ago

      I do remember this camera, but I'm not a fanatic about updating old cameras. At least to the point where I'm going to replace its guts in order for it to shoot digital. Too many digital cameras out there that will fit into my hand and into the pocket of my jeans. I'm not stepping into the past when there's huge selection of digital cameras out there. Yeah, to each his/her own.

    • TTC12 profile image

      TTC12 6 years ago

      One of these days I am going to load it up with film and try it out. I love all the dials on this thing. Thanks for stopping by!

    • frugalfamily profile image

      Brenda Trott, M.Ed 6 years ago from Houston, TX

      It is still really cool looking! At 75 years old and only $35 it is a bargain priced antique. Sometimes research just lets us down:)