The Argus C3 film camera was a great way to learn photography

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Roy Deppa spent the summers of 1969 and 1970 backpacking around Europe. Roy was accompanied by his trusty Argus C3, the film camera he had used as a yearbook photographer at Gaithersburg High School.

“One day I left my backpack by my bunk in a hostel, and when I came back I found that someone had gone through my things,” wrote Roy, who lives in Brookville. “It was obvious that they pulled out the camera, looked at it, and put it back! After that, I really cherished this camera! If it was a more modern model, I would have lost not only my camera, but a few dozen irreplaceable photos.

Now there is a marketing slogan. The Argus C3: Not good enough to fly.

I’m sorry. This is a harsh assessment. After including C3 last week on my list of unreasonable dislikes, I’ve heard many fans pleading to disagree. The C3, a rangefinder camera available in different versions from 1939 to 1966, is known as the Brick for its straight lines.

“Why oh why the irritation with the humble and rugged C3?” asked Jim Witkin from Takoma Park. “This is the camera I learned about, back in the 1960s. It was the first 35mm camera given to me by my father, an engineer (naturally), who was drawn to its cogs, its lines sleek and logical layout… And it was indestructible, which was good for a 12-year-old.

Jim said the Argus is what set him on his photographic path, adding: “I would think twice about trying to drive one. Your tire could lose.

John Miller de Manassas is another member of the Arguscenti who was irritated by my chronicle on irritations. “I grew up in Luster’s Gate, Virginia, where my father ran a country store,” he wrote. “He gave me an Argus C3 when I was in seventh grade and I was thrilled.”

John built a darkroom and started taking pictures. Working with a basic camera like the Argus teaches a person the intricacies of exposure and shutter speed. John used the C3 to photograph events at Blacksburg High School and became a photo editor for the school yearbook.

“Of course I have to admit it was 65 years ago,” he wrote. “You can see that I have a sentimental attachment to old Argus.”

silver spring Tom Owell wrote, “Think of how many aspiring photographers have cut their teeth owning one. They were clunky, brick-like, functional and industrial-looking – perhaps reflecting their era – but they certainly had to teach a generation of camera enthusiasts to understand f-stops and speeds. filling.

There are two cameras that Farwell pencil case of Burke especially treasures. One is his grandfather’s Leica IIIc, made by the German company that has become synonymous with high-end cameras. The other is the Argus C3 that Kit bought in 1965 from Pipkin Cameras in Oklahoma City when he was 14 years old.

“The Leica, of course, is a classic, but so is the Argus,” Kit wrote. “With manual shutter and f-stop it was a real camera to learn from and take great pictures. The Argus was built like a tank. I saw one that had a big bump in the corner after been dropped off on a concrete driveway and still took perfect photos.

It was probably the driveway that needed fixing.

Laurent Tagrin of Montgomery Village believes that mastering a simple camera like the C3 can make a person a better photographer.

“I hate how digital imagery has degraded the art of photography,” he wrote. “A lot of serious photographers started out with a basic camera – Argus C3, Kodak Brownie, etc. – and then produced great images later in life. The combination of a box camera and a small darkroom at home leads to a lot more knowledge than a cell phone camera and editing software, it also forces the photographer to think a lot more about the final image they hope to achieve.

The neighborhood one Debra McDonald said her husband, Grass, was upset at my dismissal of the Argus C3. He had one in Korea in 1953 and he loved it.

“He still has some great portraits he took,” Debra wrote. “It was stolen many years later, and he wasn’t using it but was still so upset.”

This proves that the C3 is not anti-theft.