Argus Match-Matic C3

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The two-tone leatherette C3 Match-Matic was produced between 1958 and 1966, and its retro styling still appeals to many collectors' eyes today. But beneath the skin, the Match-Matic is largely the same old Argus "brick" sold since 1938 (and discussed further in the Argus C3 article.)

The cosmetic makeover may been influenced by 1950s automobile styling from Detroit, a near neighbor to the Argus factory. Functionally, the significant change was an attempt to "simplify" exposure settings, by removing the familiar f/stop and shutter speed numbering. Instead, a dedicated clip-in meter provided EV readings; the user was expected to mentally add integers on the shutter and aperture dials until the total equaled the desired EV value. In addition to the numerals, the front dial indicates shutter speed ranges for "action" (briefer) and "scenes" (longer) exposures. (The 8 corresponds to the C3's top shutter speed of 1/300 sec.)

The non-standard Matchmatic numbering scales may be problematic today, if the meter has gone missing, or has stopped working (after 50 years, either is quite possible).

Calculating flashbulb exposures was also "simplified." With the shutter set at the indicated #5 mark, blue "Flash Finder" numbers corresponding to different distances could be read off the rangefinder wheel; the lens opening was set to match. This system was calibrated for Kodachrome slide film and #25B blue flashbulbs; other film & bulb combinations required adding or subtracting a conversion factor.

The Match-Matic was supplied with the standard 3-element 50mm f/3.5 Cintar lens, but with a Series V retaining ring to accept drop-in filters.

Contemporary Fame

The Argus C3 Matchmatic has re-found fame as having been used as a prop in several Harry Potter films. Screen character Colin Creevey is seen taking pictures with the camera in the first film "Chamber of Secrets" where in one famous scene he asks Harry to turn Hogwart's student Ron toward the camera so he can photograph him vomiting slugs after a spell goes awry. In a later scene his trusty Argus C3 Matchmatic protects him from being killed by the gaze of the Basilisk. Having viewed the snake-like monster's gaze through his camera, rather than directly, he was merely turned to stone rather than killed. The camera, unfortunately, had its film burned by the Basilisk while Collin was perfectly restored by a magic potion. In the film Colin's Matchmatic is not equipped with its dedicated light meter needed to set the exposure but that would be of little concern to a young wizard.


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