Argus Argoflex, 27 June 2011


Even if this camera didn’t produce good photos, it would continue to amuse me just from its name alone. Seriously…Argus Argoflex. Try not to find that amusing!

ArgusAF CHI TMax100 CrazyTree01B

ArgusAF CHI TMax100 HarborCrane01B

ArgusAF CHI TMax100 Isolation01B

ArgusAF CHI TMax100 Isolation02B

ArgusAF CHI TMax100 MadisonAlley01B

Photo Information:

Camera: Argus Argoflex TLR
Lens: Argus 75mm f/4.5 Varex
Film: Kodak TMax 100 (120)

Photo 1:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Lincoln Park

I have photographed this tree before using a somewhat similar camera, the TLR-like Kodak Duaflex IV. Unlike that instance, the photo does not have the pronounced vignetting that the Duaflex produces, and the image is a bit sharper. I’ve also realized, after comparing these shots to the same trees now that they have their full foliage, that I find trees more interesting in winter. Now that they have full crowns of leaves, I don’t pay them much mind. I suppose this is unsurprising, given my affinity for winter in general.

Photo 2:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Montrose Harbor

The subject of this photo is part of the winching mechanism on a harbor crane at Montrose Harbor. One of the advantages of using a TLR is that while the second lens creates substantial bulk, it also provides one with a nearly identical preview image of what the taking lens will capture. It also makes close-focusing much less of a guessing game, due to the aforementioned previewing; by contrast, taking such a shot on a camera like my Bettax (which only has a small waist-level finder that is not linked in any way to the lens) is a much less certain endeavor.

Photo 3:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Lincoln Park

This is also a recreation of one of my earlier photographs. In this case, it’s a film recreation of a digital shot I took early last year, when I was still getting accustomed to using my DSLR. That time around, the sky was a bit more dramatic than it was this time, though I shot the photos at roughly the same time of year. Ah well…the sky is still a bit interesting here.

Photo 4:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Lincoln Park

Shot on the same day as the above photo; you can see some similar elements to the composition of the clouds.

Photo 5:
Location: Chicago, Illinois; Loop

Yet again, I have shot this composition before – actually, it was at the same time as I shot this one. Often, I carry more than one camera with me, especially when I’m shooting film. Generally, these will be of different formats, though sometimes, I shoot different types of cameras that use the same type of film so that I can see the differences between the two cameras. In this case, I wanted to capture one shot using the “miniature” format (the Bantam shot), [1] and another using the higher resolution afforded by the 120 film the Argoflex uses. [2] One thing I will note, however, is that the Bantam shot captured more of the verticality of the composition compared to what the Argoflex captured. [3]



[1]: For those of y’all who aren’t familiar with the terminology, 35mm film was once considered “miniature” format – this is compared to the more “standard” sizes of the time, of which 120 is probably the standard. Even then, 120 film (which is 2 3/4″ wide) was, in fact, one of the smaller rollfilm formats of the time – type 116 film, for example, was 3 3/4″ wide, and there were even larger formats out there. On a related note, since 135 film was originally called miniature film, later films used for “spy” cameras (type 110 film) had to be called “sub-miniature,” as they were even smaller than 135 film.

[2]: This is, in fact, one of the reasons why photographers who shoot for magazines and similar print publications tended to favor medium and/or large format cameras (and occasionally still do). I know I’ve mentioned it before, but a quick refresher: a standard 24mm x 36mm 135 frame has an area of 1.33 square inches; a 6cm x 6cm 120 frame (such as the Argoflex captures) has an area of 5.58 square inches – a little over 4x more area than the 135 frame. What this means is that when used to capture a similar composition, the larger format can capture more detail than the smaller. This is also one of the reasons I love using my Bettax; unlike the Argoflex shots here, the Bettax has a frame size of 6cm x 9cm, yielding an area of 8.37 squre inches, or roughly 1.5x more area than a 6×6 frame.

[3]:  This is one of the drawbacks of using a square format; while it eliminates the need for rotating the camera to suit the composition, it also means that there is no directional “bias” such as one would find in a landscape or portrait shot. If I wanted to emphasize the verticality of the composition, I could, of course, have cropped out parts of the sides of the square shot, but even then, the Bantam shot still captured more of the vertical elements of the composition than the Argoflex did.


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