Thrift Store Camera: Argus 100 35mm film camera

Front Straightaway pit structures, Sebring Raceway, Sebring , Florida
I've recently been drawn back to my photographic roots, which involves film photography. Not just loading a roll of film into a camera and going out and shooting pictures, but also bringing the film home, loading it into a tank, pouring in chemicals and processing the film myself.

Kodak D-76 Black & White Film Developer Powder to Make 1 Liter.

I'm not sure what satisfaction this brings me, but I do find it satisfying for sure. Reliving the early days of my career in photography involves the careful planning of each and every shot, know that you have a very limited number of shots available. There is no 64GB memory cards or delete buttons, only a finite number of exposures on a roll of film before you have to stop and reload, assuming you have more film with you.

Before you load each roll, you make several conscious decisions: color or black and white? 100 asa or 800 asa? Once the film is in the camera, there's no turning back, so to speak. These are the things that many photographer today don't really think about as they go about creating their photography.

Beyond this, in the last few weeks, I've decided to start shooting photos on old, cheap film cameras that I've discovered and purchased in thrift shops.

With that in mind, a few thoughts and photos on this week's Bargain Store acquisition: An old Argus 100 35mm film camera.

Argus 100 35mm film camera

This camera is basically a reloadable version of the throwaway, one-time use, cameras that were popular in the 1990's. Fixed focus, a high-low sliding aperture switch of bright light and low light, manual film cranking knurled knob, etc. I like the fact that this camera has a 38mm lens, which is slightly wider that a "normal" lens for 35mm film. While this was most likely intended to expand the focal depth go field, it also gives the photos a slightly wider look, drawing the viewer more into the photos. There is a hot shoe to attach a flash if you want to and, of course, a film rewind button and crank for when the roll is finished.

White Chapel, Granada River, Ormond Beach, Florida

Because there are no exposure controls, other than the sliding high light, low light switch, there is very little the photographer has to think about beyond composing the picture. One thing to keep in mind when shooting with these types of cameras, is that there are designed to give general exposure that will work with about ASA 100 to ASA 400 film, with the ASA 100 negatives being a little thin, of underexposed, and the 400 negatives being a little dense, or over-exposed.

The shutter speeds in these cameras are generally on the low side, so when using a camera like this you should make every effort to hold the camera very still while depressing the shutter button to avoid camera shake and motion blur.

Ormond Beach Yacht Club building, built in 1910

So I think what it comes down to is the satisfaction that can be derived from trying to use a tool pulled basically off of the junk pile, using old techniques and technology to create somewhat interesting images from today's world. Photographing things you see in the world today using a an old camera and film is a way of in and of itself to document those items in a way they've never been documented before.

Rural roadside mailboxes, Sebring , Florida

If you enjoy making digital photographs today, and have a desire to experience and appreciate the history of your craft, I'd definitely recommend dropping into your local Goodwill Store and picking up an old film camera, funning a few rolls of film through it, process the film yourself or send it to the lab and enjoy the results!

To view my full Argus 100 35mm film gallery, please click here

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www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.