Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 1999/10/05

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Subject: [Leica] Argus Cameras
Date: Tue, 5 Oct 1999 12:39:10 EDT

There was only one 'better' Argus 35mm camera, the C4. It was clumsy, weighed 
a ton, was top heavy didn't have a standard flash shoe, in most models the 
shutter dial didn't stay put, it had a jerry-built interchangeable lens 
mount, and the lenses weren't up to snuff. It used a thumb wheel geared 
externally to the lens that made focusing the lens very difficult. Argus 
tried to constantly improve it, but to no avail. Of course it had no 
metering, which its contemporary M3 did. 

Worst camera I ever used. But great for teaching kids real photography. The 
C3 was the first of the Arguses that made an impression. It had a separate 
rangefinder window, no link between film and advance and shutter tensioning. 
It also used that external focusing via an intermediate gear. Folks always 
forgot to do something, so the negs were never right. 

Kodak's 35s of the period were slightly better, but no bargain either. Only 
one of Kodak's Retinas was any good: a folding IIIc. It was made in their 
German factory. Eventually Kodak got out of the 35mm camera business. Argus 
now imports cheap boxtype cameras last I heard. Nikon, Canon and Minolta 
sealed the fate of any American 35mm camera to date. 

I do recall a half-frame US made 35mm and the stereo Realist cameras that had 
some class; and they still are sold on the used market. But few foreign 
outfits could beat pro 35mm cinema and aircraft cameras made in the US during 
the middle years of the 20th century.