My little Argus A

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A few months ago I was back East and came across an old military foot locker I had as a kid, I opened the lid and it was empty except for an old cardboard box about a foot square in the middle of it. Stacked neatly in the cardboard box were several old vintage cameras ranging from MF box type to this little Argus model A 35mm camera. Here is some info and more pictures of the old camera! This was cutting edge back in the Mid to late 30’s. Oh yeah, it still functions, I will have to run a roll of film through it soon and see if there are any light leaks . . . Where did I put that light meter. I found my Kodak Master Photo-guide booklet, this was in most photographers bags back then.

Photoguide_4935

   guide_4936

   Here is a good read on the history of this little Art Deco Bakelite camera (the A model ended production more then a decade before I was born), yet it was my first 35mm camera. There was a sheet that came with each roll of film that had the basics of exposure on it (Sunny 16 rules) this pretty much dictated the how and when you could take pictures, but was easy and the film allowed a wide range of leeway. You where bound to get a few good pictures. Do read the following link about its history.
Here are its Specs:

  • Focus Type: 2 Position (6ft – 12ft and 12ft – Infinity, later 6ft – 18ft and 18ft – Infinity)
  • Years Manufactured: 1936 – 1941
  • Introductory Price: $12.50
  • Approximate Introductory Price in 2003 Dollars: $160.00
  • Serial Number Range: 1037 – 211589
  • Shutter Type: Pre-war Ilex Precise
  • Lens Speed: f/4.5
  • Aperture Settings: f/4.5, 5.6, 8, 11 (later f/4.5, 6.3, 9, 12.7, 18)
  • Shutter Speeds: 1/200th sec, 1/100, 1/50, 1/25, B(ulb), T(ime), (top speed later dropped to 1/150th sec)
  • Extinction Meter/Calculator: No
  • Flash Synch Tubes: No
  • Pressure Plate: Fixed
A> Shutter Release, B> cable release, C> Shutter speed Ring, D> Aperture Ring lever.

A> Shutter Release, B> cable release, C> Shutter speed Ring, D> Aperture Ring lever.

The Lens had 2 Focus Positions (6ft – 12ft and 12ft – Infinity, later 6ft – 18ft and 18ft – Infinity)

The method for focusing the lens depends on the model of camera:
Argus A, A2B, and FA (Two-Position Focus): This is probably the most
misunderstood aspect of the Argus. The focus distances are only labeled on the Argus FA.

1. Focus in Infinity position: To focus for a distance of about 15ft to Infinity,
rotate the Shutter and Neck assembly until the Lens Locking Tabs are NOT over the
Locking Lugs. If done correctly, the Shutter and Neck assembly should turn freely and
not be “snapped” into place.
2. Focus in close-up position: To focus for a distance of 6ft to about 15ft, turn
the Shutter and Neck assembly until it locks stiffly against rotation. This allows the lens
to come forward slightly and should place the Lens Locking Tabs directly over the
Locking Lugs.

Lens Focus set for 6~12ft

Lens in locked/stored position

Lens focus set to 12ft ~ Infinity

Lens lens in closeup position

As I didn’t learn this until much later (thank you internet!) as I did not have a instruction manual.  I just thought you locked the lens so it would fit in the case (it is still a viable, good leather product).  I will let you browse the Argus website for all the details as I do not wish to duplicate the invaluable work you will find there and I do not wish to introduce any errors to that info.  I do know the history of this camera, its original owner (my father) had it with him in the military (US Army Air Corps/ Air Force) and was in Korea, Germany (Berlin Blockade) and eventually fell into my hands as a pre-teen in the 60’s.   The following are pictures of my Model, which is a good representative piece from that era (Art Deco styling), using materials of the period (Aluminum, Brass, molded Bakelite).
Here are various angles.

Right side

Right side

left side with pressure latch

left side with pressure latch

Top view, left to right, film winder, viewfinder, counter and release knob to allow film advance

Top view, left to right, film winder, viewfinder, counter and release knob to allow film advance, Note: Lens is in 12ft ~ Infinity focus position

Bottom view, rewind knob and tripod socket.

Bottom view, rewind knob and tripod socket.

Interior view with back removed for film loading/removal, you pressed the little knob on top next to the counter to release the film for rewinding. The Serial No indicates this unit was mid run

Interior view with back removed for film loading/removal, you pressed the little knob on top next to the counter to release the film for rewinding. The Serial No indicates this unit was mid run

Back with fixed pressure plate

Back with fixed pressure plate

aluminum Back with Art Deco design

aluminum Back with Art Deco design

Lens showing the shutter release & cable release socket

Lens showing the shutter release & cable release socket

Well there you have it in a quick and dirty over view of my first 35mm camera.  I did later get an Argus C3

Argus C3

Argus C3

WoooHooo! it wasn’t really much, the range finder was not coupled to the focusing of the lens, and I affectionately called it a BRICK! I really forget what I paid for it but it was a start . . . Nope don’t have it that one disappeared somewhere in Florida . . . but that’s another story to be told at another time.  Hope you enjoyed the pictures and if so please leave a comment.

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. . . later taters, I am off to take some pix . . .

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