The Argus Camera Company of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Hey Argus fans – here’s a post with information about the Argus Museum and an event they are having!

Old Foundation by Mark O’Brien

Lighthouse ruins at Cheboygan State Park, MI, taken with Argus C3 by Mark O’Brien

It’s apparently O’Brien week here on Michigan in Pictures. Yesterday we had a photo from Marjorie and then I received an unrelated email from her dad. He was passing along a request from Bob and Mary Kay Berg of Palindrome Productions:

Our production company, Palindrome Productions, is working on a short film about the Argus Camera Company, originally based in Ann Arbor, MI. To supplement our video footage, we are currently looking for still photos taken by Argus cameras models from 1936 to 1960.

If you have family photos (everyday events, family vacations, recitals, holidays) or photos of Ann Arbor, please contact us no later than Friday, April 13, 2007 at

I’ve never been one to look a gift blog post in the mouth, so without further delay – and with copious thanks to Mark for the links – I bring you:

About the Argus Camera Company of Ann Arbor, Michigan

Argus C3 by Luke HWikipedia’s very much incomplete entry on the Argus Camera Company says:

Argus is an American maker of cameras and photographic products, founded in 1936 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Argus originated as a subsidiary of the International Radio Corporation (IRC), founded by Charles Verschoor. Its best-known product was the C3 rangefinder camera, which enjoyed a 27-year production run and became one of the top-selling cameras in history. The company’s Model A was the first low-cost 35 mm camera in the United States.

The link above for the Argus C3 (aka “The Brick”) is much more complete and says the simple design and ready availability of the C3 makes it widely used even today. While that entry says the C3 was responsible for establishing 35mm, Stephen Gandy of CameraQuest hands that title to the first camera Argus made – the Argus A, declaring:

Argus SS Notches by ReyGuyIn MY always not so objective mind at least, the Argus A is undoubtedly the 2nd most important 35mm camera of all time– second only to the Leica A. If you think about it, that’s a pretty amazing legacy for a simple little Bakelite camera from a Michigan USA radio factory. It really is.

How does Argus deserve this impressive ranking? Easy, they bribed me. Unfortunately, not with money. Argus paid me off in Photographic Heritage. Building on the astounding sellout success of the Argus A, Argus sold MILLIONS of Argi, thereby establishing 35mm as the serious Amateur’s film format of choice in the largest photography market in the world, America.

If you are interested in repairing, collecting or just learning more about any of the Argus camera models and their accessories, look no further than the Argus Collectors Group. You can get a quicker overview of the Argus line over at Mark’s Argus Cameras Page. Mark also took visit to the Argus Museum located at the old Argus Factory in Ann Arbor and (go figure) he took some photos.

There are a TON of very cool Argus camera advertisements (I learned that Galileo was a 17th century Argus and am definitely going to get an Argus A to take to the next World’s Fair), some detail shots of the cameras on his projects page and the results of a Spring Fever Argus photo contest over at Alexander Rawles Speaking of photos , you can see some shots of the camera and from the cameras in the Argus Rangefinders Group on Flickr.End of the gumshoe's day by Olivander

You might also want to check the local bookstore for a copy of Argomania: A Look At Argus Cameras And The Company That Made Them by Henry Gambino. The promotional copy explains:

Argus’ founder, Charles Verschoor, did not establish an empire, as did George Eastman. Nor did he enjoy a particularly long tenure as the head of the company he founded. Unlike Oscar Barnack, he did not invent anything particularly new, yet he had a tremendous impact on the photographic industry. He revolutionized the scope of the industry, not only from a technical standpoint, but even more so from a marketing perspective.

Additional photo credits:

Argus C3 by Luke H

Argus SS Notches by ReyGuy (part of a great set of detail shots of Argus cameras)

End of the gumshoe’s day by Olivander