Before we get into the quirky workings of the camera, a quick history about the argus C3. The C3 was produced during a span of 30 years. Starting from 1939 to 1966, Argus the maker of the C3, sold approximately over 2 million cameras. Taking this number into account and the length of time the camera was sold, some have even argued that the Argus C3 is responsible for popularizing the use of 35mm film. When compared to its competition, the low price really helped with the success of the C3; costing almost half the price of its japanese and german counterparts. For some, The camera is said to be ugly, in my opinion, I think it looks pretty unique. Due to its shape, size, and weight, it is commonly referred to as "The Brick" by photographers, in Japan its nickname translates as "The Lunchbox" For many The argus has become a paper weight; something to be admired on a shelf. For others it has served well in fist fights, or has helped in holding up the occasional lopsided table. For myself, The argus has allowed me to enter into the world of our forefathers. If you think about it, many of the photographs that our grandfathers took, could possible have well been taken on an Argus. Or better yet to spice up the history of the C3, Tony Vaccaro, one of the most famous 20th century photographers used it to capture some of the most monumental photographs during WWII.
Unlike traditional SLRs, The Argus is loaded from right to left with its leader inserted into the windup spool like normal.
The right viewfinder is made up of a split-image rangefinder, which is used for focusing, while the left viewfinder is for composing the shot. In the middle there is a film speed dial. This dial serves no mechanical functions other then being a reminder of what film is loaded.
Once your film is loaded you will want to advance it. Your first step will be to close your camera back. Next you will want to shift The little lever that you see above towards the left. With your other hand you will want to turn the knob that says Wind clockwise. Once you start turning the winding knob make sure to let go of the little lever you first turned towards the left; it should stop once you advanced to the next fame. repeat that once more.
Once you have advanced the film two frames you are now ready to shoot your first frame. Before you do so you will want to make sure your counter is set to zero. To do so you will want to turn the counter counter clockwise until the start marker lines up with frame count zero. Now you are ready to make your first exposure. You will want to cock the shutter next.
There is a lever in the lower left corner, that is used to cock the shutter. Once cocked, you are ready to go.
You will also want to set your speed with this dial.
Your Aperture can be adjusted by turning to the appropriate F-stop on the front of the lens. It helps to set these before getting your composition.
Focusing is pretty easy, but looking through the focusing rangefinder you can turn this knob to adjust the spit image you see through the viewfinder. Small tip, avoid putting your finger on the center of the distance dial. The window in the middle is used by the rangefinder to allow you to focus. Now go buy an Argus C3 and Happy Shooting and Happy Developing!