Argus C33

This is one of several cameras that we inherited from my wife’s Grandfather, who was a newspaperman. Known as “The Brick’ for obvious reasons, this was an attempt to go after the Leica market by US manufacturer Argus. Since the mid 30’s Argus had success domestically with the C3, which was a 35mm rangefinder that sold very well.

It’s not an especially sophisticated camera, certainly not the level of engineering associated with Leica, but it has some adventurous features. It’s a 35mm rangefinder, with single lever film advance and interchangeable lenses, introduced in 1956. In an improvement over the C3, the viewfinder and rangefinder windows are integrated in one, giving quite a modern feel to focusing and framing.

There’s a leaf shutter built into the body, which helps keep lens costs down and of course means there’s no need for a dark slide when changing lenses. Metering is integrated with shutter speeds, by the simple approach of building the meter onto the shutter speed dial. Speeds are from 1 to 1/300th, and aperture is set on the lens itself.

Rangefinder focusing is linked to the lens by surface mounted gear wheels, the drive for which needs to be aligned with the lens when mounting via the nicely engineered bayonet. Oddly there are no strap lugs on the body itself, you must instead rely on the “Ever ready” case, which is big enough to double as a lunch box, made from heavy leather.