Argus A 35mm Camera

Posted: 01/12/2015

ARGUS A Camera Review

by Robert Dungan

Called by some the 2nd most important 35mm camera ever made.  The Argus A was designed with the bare essentials in 1936 to be sold to the masses coming out of the great depression.  It has an Art Deco style with its black bakelite body and stylized aluminum back.



  • Pop Out Lens:  I.R.C. F 4.5 Anastigmat

  • Two Focus, settings 6-15 feet and 15 feet to infinity

  • F stops:  11, 8, 5.6, 4.5, cable socket

  • Shutter Speeds:  25, 50, 100, 200, B, T

  • 35mm film

The Model A was made from 1936 to 1941.  Introductory price was $12.50.  There were five other models based on the A made until 1951.  All total about half a million Model A type cameras were produced.  One of the unique features is the lens pops out for use.  When locking lugs are straight up it is set for 6 to 15 feet and when the lugs are at an angle it is set for 15 feet to infinity.  Shutter cocks and snaps when you push it down.

above: Film: Arista 200 (Fomapan) ASA 200 / Developed Caffenol–C-L 30 mins. Semi-stand / Scanned Epson V600

Using the Model A takes you to the very basics of photography.  To get good pictures you really have to think about lighting, shutter speed and distance to subject of photo.  All things modern cameras do for you. This is not as difficult as it sounds. Check the lighting conditions, set the F stop and shutter speed then all you need to consider is distance.  If distance setting is off all you get is a little softer image (think Holga).   These cameras would be great for teaching a basic film photography class.  Price should be in the $10 to $20 range for a working model.  The best part about the model A is it capable of taking really great pictures.

above: Agfa Vista Plus ASA 200 / F11 @ 1/200 sec / Developed Dwaynes Photo

The back comes off to load the 35mm film.  You turn a knob on the bottom to advance the film.  After shooting the camera you push a little knob on the top to the left, turn knob on bottom a quarter turn and release the knob and continue to advance film until it stops.  You manually set the F stop using a lever on the lens barrel and you set the shutter speed by turning a plate of the face of the lens. You have to remember to advance the film after each shot or you get double exposures.  I usually forget once or twice on each roll.


All photos by Robert Dungan. Robert on FLICKR!

My Flickr album for Argus A photos

There is are excellent resources on the web for information about the Argus Model A cameras by Hrad Kuzyk.

There also is the Argus Collectors Group -

Information on Model A type camera -

35mm film at The FPP Store! -



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