Dear readers: my new old camera.
This is the Argoflex seventy-five, purchased yesterday at the Lucas County Flea Market. Aaron was actually the hawk-eyed thrifter on this one, and pointed out a couple of older-looking cameras. I was intrigued by this one, and popped open the viewfinder to get a glimpse of a fantastically bright (if dirt-speckled) view.
Next step: see what kind of film it takes. I knew from my Holga research that some older films are actually identical to the 120 that I use in my Holga, but the spools are larger and won’t fit into the older cameras. So, I looked around for a release catch… and looked… and looked. Aaron found a little metal nub on the top of the camera, and tried fussing with it, at which point I said, “If I can’t get it open, I’m not gonna buy it.”
Cue the seller lady. She got up from her lawn chair and mutely asked for the camera, then fussed with it for a moment before opening the viewfinder and triumpantly offering it back to me. At which point I asked her how to open the back, where the film goes. To my carefully-supressed glee, she fussed with the same metal nub that Aaron had, with the same results.
Finally she looked up at me and said that it was mine for two bucks, since she couldn’t get it open. I told her that sounded like a deal to me, and the transaction went down. As we left, Aaron and I heard the woman talking to her husband, saying, “I just sold that camera for two bucks! I couldn’t get the back open…” and we heard the husband mutter his irate disappointment in reply.
After we had done the rest of the flea market (meeting our mail-delivery lady in the process!), we got in the car and I gave Aaron the camera to manhandle. And, sure enough, by wedging his fingernails under the top of the back, by the metal nub, and giving a mighty pull, the back finally swung free.
I wonder how much money I saved by letting Aaron wander off while the nice lady was trying to make the catch work, instead of having him manhandle it there at the booth. Probably at least $8.
So, let me tell you about my camera.
- The Argoflex 75 was manufactured between 1949 and 1958. So, this little camera is somewhere around 50 years old.
- It takes 620 film, but I managed to make it accept a roll of 120, despite some info listed online. We’ll see how it actually works once I expose this roll. All I know is that it seems to advance OK.
- It’s fixed-focus, so no focus ring. I’ve read differing stats on how close it can focus: some websites say 7.5 feet, but the manual says six. There were close-up lens attachments made, but I’m doubtful about ever locating any.
- It can take “instantaneous” or “time” photos; basically, it has a bulb setting. The aperture is f/13, but I haven’t been able to find the shutter speed listed anywhere.
Basically, I’ve got myself a fancy-looking box camera. I’m cool with that, though. I’m enjoying my new hobby of collecting old and inexpensive cameras. As I photograph with them, I find that they all have their own style and personality — which sounded like total crap to me years ago when my aunt tried to tell me the same thing. It’s true, though.
If I ever go on a trip with all my camera equipment, I’m gonna need a bigger bag. 😉