Eric L. Woods

This Old Camera: Argus C4 (Son of Brick)

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I like oddball cameras. There are fewer cameras more oddball than the Argus C3.

Arguus C3

While I did part ways with it eventually I did like it enough to put a couple of rolls through it and write a post for KEH on it first.

Argus C3 w/ Agfa Vista 200
Argus C3 w/ Agfa Vista 200
Argus C3 w/ Agfa Vista 200
Argus C3 w/ Agfa Vista 200

A particular favorite of mine was an accidental double exposure.

Double exposure Argus C3 w/ Agfa Vista 200

There is a certain pleasure one can attain by managing to get images out of a rudimentary camera. No aids. No automation. With cameras like this Sunny 16 seems appropriate rather than a light meter. And that is how I shot the C3 mostly. As fun as that was I was not a fan of two things:

  1. With its brick like hard edges this camera is a menace to other objects. As I stated in the KEH blog post:
    • I scratched my Crown Vic and Pelican case with this thing. A glancing blow with no lasting effect on the Crown Vic and the Pelican is a tank, but know that this thing is not to meet anything or anyone you care about with any force or speed.
  2. It needs a lot of light. Blast this lens with sunlight and you can get rich and relatively sharp images as seen above. But daylight shadows, night, and interior shots are not your friend.

But even having said that I did miss this camera a bit. Not enough to buy it again. What to do?

The answer came as I was perusing KEH.com one day. An Argus C4.

EOS RP

Received it and it looked to be in good condition. Then things went a bit sideways as I outlined in this Instagram post.

As stated in the post:

Sitrep: Bought this Argus some time ago because I missed my bricklet Argus, but did not want another bricklet Argus. Promptly loaded it with film forgot about it and recently realized I have no idea what brand, type, or speed film is in it. Just finished the roll guessing it was 400 and Sunny 16’d the mess out of it. At this point what is exposure accuracy? Lost count overshot the end and snapped the film. About to load it in a tank just in case it is black and white. If not heads up @sec_carrboro. You are about to have an incoming roll of color film in a tank to sort out for a fee.

Mystery solved once I got the film in the tank and out of the bag. Lomography 400. And Southeastern Camera took care of it.

Pentax 28-105mm

Result? My two C3 issues were taken care of:

  1. The C4 has a more traditional shape reminiscent of other rangefinders of the era like my FED 2 rather than the scratch any surface C3. And that is a good thing. I really like that camera.
  2. It does not need as much light as the C3. Took some shots in the shadows and they seem considerably clearer than the C3.

The C3 has one advantage that would have solved the film speed memory issue I ran into. A built in film speed memo dial.

Film Cameras

There are other C4 improvements over the C3.

  • It has a combined viewfinder rather than the old school separate C3 framing and focusing finders.
Arguus C3
  • Along with slightly better lens quality the C4 goes to f/2.8 instead of f/3.5.
EOS RP
  • I much prefer the slide on film cover with a lock over the no lock I am surprised I did not open the back on accident c3.
Film Cameras
  • I also prefer the pull up the film winder and turn to lock film rewind over the just start rewinding C3.
  • It keeps the gears design theme I like.
EOS RP
  • Makes no difference image quality wise, but I believe the C3 to be a better looking camera if a little normal looking compared to the more oddball C3.

Other than that they are more similar than their looks would indicate. Top shutter speed of 1/300 included. Now for the test roll pictures.

Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works
Testing Argus C4 to see if it works

Final thoughts.

I like it.

I put it up there with there, but shy of the FED 2.

FED 2

I enjoy using both, but the FED 2 kills it when you add in the interchangeable lens part and come on. Just look at that leather half case for Pete’s sake. I will admit that the C4 has one advantage. I do not believe the C4 will mangle it’s innards if I forget and adjust the shutter speed at the wrong time.

A great camera if you are looking for a simple camera on the cheap.

Argus C4
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