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Review: Argus 50mm f3.5 Cintar Hacked for Canon EOS

by Chris Gampat on 10/10/2011

One of the keys to developing your own photographic style is getting a look that nobody else has. Since cutting down my photography kit to three primes, I’ve thought about what else I could add to get a different look while mixing in my own knowledge of photography to the pot. Then one day, while looking at an old camera on my desk, I decided to hack the lens off of an old Argus C3. After hours of internet research, I found that nobody has created an adapter for the lens to Canon EOS mount. So I took it to a machinist and had the lens custom adapted to my 5D Mk II.

The Lens

The Argus C3 is arguably, the camera that made the 35mm film format what it is. Affectionately called, “The Brick” it was a camera that was shaped quite like a brick and weighed almost as much despite being a rangefinder camera. The lens that came standard with it was a 50mm f3.5 Cintar. It was said to be extremely sharp…for the era! Indeed, this lens was created before the days of coatings and by modern standards, isn’t amazingly sharp or can resolve the amount of details that most modern lenses can.

The Stats

Argus 50mm f3.5 Cintar Adapted to a Canon 5D Mk II from Chris Gampat on Vimeo.

Focusing with this lens can be a bit tough because I didn’t have a focusing confirmation chip embedded in. Check out the video above for more.

The Look

To get the most out of this lens, a good idea is to apply the film filters in Adobe Lightroom 3. There are particular characteristics to this lens:

- It is soft, though not terribly so.

- It can’t handle direct sunlight very well. Everything becomes washed out.

- Minimum focusing is 3 feet, like any rangefinder lens.

With all this said, the photos from the lens when placed on a 5D Mk II are still pretty good providing that your picture style is adjusted correctly. I’ve got three different color profiles that I custom made, so I’m often using those instead.

The lens generally tends to render everything wish a bluish hue to it.

The bokeh from this lens wide open is still quite delicious with an old school look and feel to it.

The photo above was totally unedited and shows the raw image quality from the lens. The photos below were also unedited.

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