With all the talk about the new DSLR cameras with their megapixel possibilities, it was refreshing to find an “old friend”… the Argus C3 rangefinder (circa 1938-1956) at a recent photo swap meet in Vancouver. Affectionately referred to as “the brick” (it’s heavy enough to use as a doorstop or pound fence posts with), I inherited it from my grandfather and it was the camera that I learned on and took my one and only photojournalism course with.

While taking that course during the 60’s, I remember covering a riot/demonstration on the college campus. All of a sudden, the national guardsmen broke ranks and started pounding on students. Right in front of me, I thought I had just taken my Pulitzer Prize winning photo and sprinted to the journalism building to process the film and share my excitement. I busted into my professor class, shouted that I just got this amazing photo. The prof asked where and (being the rookie that I was) I said, “Here!” and popped open the back of the camera, perfectly ruining the film. To which he replied, “Not anymore.”

I processed the film anyway and salvaged a few frames but it was then and there and I knew photojournalism wasn’t going to be the genre I’d be pursuing.

5 thoughts on “The Brick

  1. Good one….and remember the 35mm film cassettes before Kodak began ‘staking’ the end caps. They were more or less reloadable….but if you dropped one and it landed on the protruding end, the opposite end could/would ‘pop off’ and the film emerge from the cassette and go ‘sproing’ exposing the entire roll to light.

  2. yikes, showing off your prized photos like that. that’s what i love about photography, we’re constantly learning by doing.

  3. I still have my Dad’s C3. The earliest slides are from 1953 so it’s at least that old. Had a big battery powered reflector-flash which used one-shot bulbs. I was born in ’56; all our family photos were taken with it.

  4. I began my love of photography with an Argus C3. My parents would marvel that I could get good shots in low light. That I could focus so quickly. My father gave me that camera to replace my Kodak box camera when he bought a Nikon in 1960. In 1966 he gave me a nice CanonQLFT, which I used to shoot photos through college. I’ve always loved photography… still have my Bessler enlarger… which replaced my stolen Durst. But now I don’t have the money for a nice digital camera. I wish I could purchase a new body and keep my 6 lenses for the Canon. Guess I’m too old to start over… or too broke.

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