Argus Cameras 1938-58

Tomei Collection

Argus cameras were first introduced to Americans in 1936 with the appearance of the Argus A.  However, not many know that these were produced by International Research Corporation. They renamed the company Argus in 1944 after their very successful Argus cameras and projectors.


It is clear if for no other reason than the massive number in existence, that the Argus cameras are of great historical importance to photography in the 1930's through 1950's.  This is due to simplicity, reliability and price.  With the exception of a few rather rare models, Argus cameras do not attract much interest from the so-called sophisticated collectors.  The Argus C, C2, and C3 models are more likely to be referred to as "bricks" and sold by the pound even though their reliability and optical performance can rival the best of classic cameras.  The reason is the fact that they are common and they are common because so many people bought them and therein lies their importance - the Argus cameras helped bring photography to the average family.  How many professional photographers trace their interest in photography back to an Argus camera ?


Here are some Argus cameras produced between 1936 through the early 1950's.  The images are generally not of high quality for which I apologize.  However, there are more to be photographed and the quality will improve as time permits.

Argus C #7397C 1938

For more details, see Argus Type C 1938.




Argus C #8449C 1938





Minca 28 1947-48

 Argus A2 July 1946-50





 Argus A3 1940-42





Argus AF 1937-38 





Argus 21 1947-52 






Argus CC 1941-42




Argus C-44 Kit 1956-57


Argus C-twenty 1956-58

Perhaps the most famous of the 35mm Argus cameras, and certainly the most numerous, are the models C, C2 and C3.  The earliest of the model C had a switch located on the front panel beneath the shutter cocking arm. All model C cameras had an uncoupled rangefinder. A number of variations were introduced, too numerous to mention here.  The Argus Collectors Group has an excellent site detailing the many models and variants of interest to collectors.

In 1939 the Model M was offered for about one year.  It used 828 film and was simple, small, streamlined, and made of  Bakelite.  For a brief period after WWII the Model 19 was offered, also called the Minca 28, Camro 28, and Delco 28.



The Argus A3 appeared in 1940 and was discontinued in early 1942.  It was a streamlined metal-bodied camera incorporating the extinction meter as in the A2.  A frame counter was mounted on the front panel. 






The Argus 21 was promoted as the Markfinder because of the newly designed viewfinder. The viewfinder optically combined a bright field frame with the image using a partially coated mirror, or beam splitter.  In addition, the coated lens was removable making it usable on a enlarger.



Another short-lived model was the Argus CC, or ColorCamera. It was produced for about a single year beginning 1941 and was the only Argus camera to have a built-in uncoupled light meter.



In the Summer of 1957, Argus came out with a new C-4 that could use interchangeable lenses.  This is more accurately a transition model offered prior to the C-44R that was produced from 1958 through 1962.  Shown here is a rare unused complete kit in the original box.



Argus "evolved" the A4 incorporating a coupled rangefinder and rapid wind knob.  An attractive design but ultimately couldn't compete with the C3.