Of nostalgia and bulky metal cameras

Argus C4. C-4, C-Four 35mm
Argus C4. C-4, C-Four 35mm

(Fans and friends on Facebook have probably read bits about this project along the way… join the fun)

Early last December a friend of mine posted photos of a classy Argus C-44R 35mm camera. Great 1950s design, shiny metal camera body, very clean looked like a fantastic find! It reminded me of a camera I had on a shelf, shutter not firing. I inherited my Argus C4 in early 1999 when my family’s shutterbug, my Grandpa, passed away. I loved photography since I got started snapping with a 35mm in high school, and Grandpa and I talked about camera news of the day like “APS film! Is it as good as 35mm?” The year before he passed away we had great shop talk while I helped provide in home care for him during the day. I’ll fondly remember times of us leafing through our copies of Popular Photography and talking about our favorite hobby.

I wanted to shoot with the Argus camera since I took it out of the box of camera oddities my uncle gave me. Seeing a friend’s photos of a very similar camera only reignited the desire to see it working again. The night I saw the photos I did what any self respecting Bucholtz male would do – I took it apart on the spot.

There’s something marvelous about opening a machine and seeing how it all works. I instantly knew what my dad found so intriguing about working on older cars that are more mechanical than computerized. I saw the problem instantly and began to find ways to repair it. With the camera now open there was no putting it back together without it working again. I wouldn’t do it, it felt unfair to know what needed to be repaired and forget it. (And maybe that’s why dad’s garage is also full of parts for various older cars.)

I decided that before the year was through I would have the camera working again, and this December I heard the shutters snap for the first time in 10 years. It is almost the same feeling of awe and mystery as when I got my first 35mm camera almost 15 years ago.

The day I got it working I posted this bit on facebook, and I have photos and more story to come. Enjoy.

I better understand the mystique and appreciation for restoring classic cars – today I got my Grandpa’s 1953 Argus C-Four 35mm camera snapping again, 10 years after I inherited it from the family’s original shutterbug. Shooting a test roll with this stylish mechanical, metal, all manual rangefinder camera feels incredibly nostalgic using an early camera one of the people that first got me interested in photography used decades ago. This roll’s for you Gramps.

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