September 2012


Today I’m saying goodbye to the Argus C3 Matchmatic, as it flies its way to its new owner Bernice. I’ll miss you, Matchmatic. Be good to your new momma as you were to me.

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Argus C3 Matchmatic

I’m usually the guy who goes camera hunting but, in this case, I’ll be the camera pimp. I’ve got a handsome Argus C3 Matchmatic, produced from 1958 to 1966, that needs an owner. One of the best-looking cameras in my collection, this well-maintained specimen is something I’d like to keep for myself. But, I bought this a while back with the intention of trying it out then selling it. I have to keep discipline and not dip into my own stock, heh heh.

The Argus C3 rangefinder was the world’s most popular-selling camera for three decades. It was made popular by photographers like Tony Vaccaro, who brought back haunting images of WWII taken using “The Brick.” Indeed, it feels like a brick: hefty, sturdy, solidly built, and you can imagine Vaccaro using this to bash in the heads of any Axis soldiers caught unawares. Recently, the camera was made popular again by being featured in the film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, in the hands of student reporter Colin Creevey.

A couple of things make the Matchmatic slightly different from the other C3 models available on Ebay and in thrift shops and antique stores around the world. Most obvious is its two-tine tan and black leatherette finish. The other is its proprietary exposure indicators. Both shutter speed and aperture are measured out in a system that would have made sense if I had the accompanying light meter (which also used the proprietary system). Alas, that didn’t come with the camera, so I had to come up with a chart to help me keep track of the equivalent values. It’s easy to get used to, but a step that isn’t necessary with the other C3 models (which use standard notation).

The camera itself is a fine piece of optical engineering. The lens is pin sharp, the controls are bombproof, and all the mechanicals work as they should. Good, because this is an all-mechanical camera. None of the controls are coupled, so you can MX (multiple exposure) to your heart’s content. The rangefinder needs a slight alignment on the vertical axis, but no biggie.

Here are a few sample shots taken around Metro Manila.

City Sweeper

Flyover Frenzy

The Armpit of Ortigas

Ladies’ Day Out

Greenbelt Blues

So Wired It Shakes

A Passion for Botany

Oh, and if you want it, you can buy it here.