The Argus C3, aka "The Brick" or "The Harry Potter" camera, is a fairly easy to find vintage rangefinder model beloved for its rugged durability, chunky mechanical design, and storied history. I found the camera shown above a few months ago on the dusty shelves of an antique shop during a road trip up along Central California. I found it all too easy to part with $27 to bring it home, primarily for the C3's aesthetic quality rather than any strong intention to return to shooting film. But until now, I didn't realize people are were refurbishing them into beautiful, and expensive, working limited edition film shooters.
Ilott Vintage takes apart and rebuilds vintage rangefinder film cameras, giving them a beautifully restored wood veneer finish alongside repairing the innards to perfect working order. Alongside the Argus C3, Ilott also restores the Canon Canonet, Canon Canonet QL17, Minolta Hi-Matic 9, Konica Auto S2, Minolta Hi-Matic 7/7s. No arguing the result of all that fine care is beautiful, but it must be a tiny niche of film camera lovers willing to part with $1,850-$2,250 for these examples of photographic revivalism.
I think for now, I'll keep my Argus C3 with original black leather case, with no promises I'll ever load it with film, but forever loving it's brickish charms.
Images: Gregory Han/Ilott Vintage