Thursday, May 16, 2013

Argus C4

The Argus C4 sold for around $90 from 1951 to 1957.  That $90 would be about the equal of $720 today. So buying an Argus C4 wouldn't have been a casual purchase for most people back in the 1950's. Still judging by the numbers that are still around Argus must have sold a fair number of the C4.As the 1950's wore on the Argus C4 had trouble competing with the Japanese imports that were often less expensive, seemed more modern, and had more features. The C4 was the last big seller for Argus. Argus did attempt an improved version of the C4, the Argus C44, however the C44 didn't sell well.  As the 1960's started Argus was limping along still turning out C3s and offering cameras made by other makers.  I think they were out of business by the early 1970's.  The name Argus still had some value as it appears to have been owned by several different companies over the years.  Occasionally you will still see some usually cheaply made camera with the Argus name.  The most notable one for me was the half frame Argus HFM that was made in the late 1980's.

In the last five auctions for a C4 that sold on Ebay the average price for an was around $20. And there were a lot of them for sell. So if you are curious and want to try out one of the last rangefinders made in the US it won't cost you much. For myself if I was stuck back in the 1950's and the Argus C4 was the only camera that I had I don't think that I would be sad.  While I might pine after features like higher shutter speeds and interchangeable lenses I still think I could do alright with the Argus C4. Even after all these years the rangefinder on my C4 is bright and contrasty and the Cintar lens seems decent enough.  There isn't that much about the C4 to get excited about.  It is just a good solid camera capable of consistent good results provided the user knows a little about photography.

It was possible to send your C4 to Geiss-America and have it modified so that it could use a set of lenses made by Lithagon. I have read that this is a much more usable interchangeable lens system than the one for the Argus C44.  A Geiss modified C4 with a set of Lithagon lenses in good shape is one of the few Argus collectibles that you may need to spend a decent amount of money for.