Argus Autronic 35 (1960)

 


Argus Autronic 35

    The Argus Autronic 35 is an American rangefinder camera produced in 1960 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. It takes standard 135 cassettes of 35mm film and is the first of the Autronic cameras produced by Argus. The basic design was borrowed from the Argus C33, which in itself is an updated version of the commendable Argus C3.

    Like the C3, the body makes extensive use of molded plastic, but the plastic on the Autronic 35 is a much more modern style rather than the Bakelite used on the C3. The hardware and certain parts of the camera (lens barrel, plates, etc.) are in fact made of aluminum. The build quality of the Autronic 35 does not feel cheap, and is very hefty in the hands.

    The lens of the Autronic 35 was available in two types-- the Cintar 50mm f/3.5 (as depicted here) and the Cintar 50mm f/2.8. These two lenses are identical to those found on the C3 and C4, respectively. The lens focuses only from the knob around the shutter button. Unfortunately, my example is completely nonfunctional and despite my best efforts at trying to get it working again, it remains 'bricked' (pun intended), therefore, I may not comment on this particular lens. The Cintars on my other Argi are very good performers, so I have every reason to believe that this is no exception.

    As a departure from other C series cameras, the shutter mounted on the Autronic 35 is a Compur shutter. This has speeds of 1/30 to 1/500s plus Bulb. These speeds (save for 500) aren't marked on the ring around the lens barrel from which the speeds are selected. All that is written are situational markings (Flash, Scene, Action) due to the fact that the camera is mainly meant to be used with the shutter priority automatic exposure system. The shutter is automatically cocked with the film advance and is fired with the large silver button on the front. There is double exposure prevention, of course, and a flash socket on the side which accepts a C3 flasholder with M sync.

    The viewfinder and rangefinder are combined on the Autronic 35. Unusually, the rangefinder patch is trapezoidal. Beneath the viewfinder view is a meter, dubbed the 'safety meter'. This displays how safe the exposure is for the given scene the camera is pointed at. All in all, it is a pretty decent viewfinder, and is nothing to write home about or condemn. 

    To open the camera, there is a small catch above the film door. Like so many other weird things on the Autronic, the film door opens downward. Film is loaded in  the normal way and the door closed again. Film is wound on with the rapid advance lever on the top and spacing automatically determined. Rewinding is accomplished by pulling down a lever on the bottom of the camera and pulling out and deploying the novel rewind crank on the top.

    The real selling point of the Autronic 35 was the Autronic feature-- fully automatic shutter priority exposure control-- and it doesn't require a battery!  The ring around the shutter is rotated to the 'A' position to engage this. Otherwise, the camera is all manual. The aperture stops are not labeled in f figures, but flash guide numbers for use with the flash guide calculator on the focus knob. Regardless, these arbitrary numbers correlate to f stops, and the series can be memorized. To operate the Autronic feature, the type of subject is entered into the shutter speed ring and the aperture set to automatic; then just focus and hit the shutter release. 

    As stated before, I cannot really comment on the use of the Autronic 35, as my example is broken. I am sure, though, that it would have been an excellent performer back in the day when it and its meter were not broken.

Film Door Open

Closeup of Features and Rewind Crank

Bottom Half of Leather Ever-Ready Case.




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