Remember when cameras used actual film and Kodak wasn’t declaring bankruptcy?
Ilott Vintage does and they’re making sure that the option is still available with their restored rangefinder cameras. Most of the cameras that they refurbish were made anywhere from 40 to 75 years ago. The Argus C3, for example, was made from 1939 to 1966.
With the advent of digital cameras, many modern cameras feature computer chips and LCD screens. These restored Ilott cameras are fully mechanical with clockwork mechanisms, tension springs, and cogs. They don’t even need a battery to function, and also use 35 mm film – incidentally, you can still buy 35 mm film and have it processed at places like Rite Aid or Costco.
We’ve included a shot of an original Argus C3 in the gallery above so that you can see the differences between Ilott’s restoration and the originals. The original C3 was covered in leather but over time they’ve worn down and, according to Ilott, during most repair processes the leathers have to be removed. Instead of reapplying the leathers, Ilott uses mansonia and mahogany wood veneers sealed with Danish oil. The veneers are cut and tailored for each individual camera.
Ilott describes their philosophy: “We espouse the romantic ideal of pre-electronic photography – when photographers had to know what they were doing to take a great photo.”
We should note that older cameras like these are not as user-friendly as modern cameras. Modern cameras are a little more helpful and easier to use for newbies. You need to know a bit about lighting, the rule of thirds, and other photography tricks to get decent photos using a restored Ilott camera.