The C3 was introduced in October 1939 as an improved version of the C (1938–9) and C2 (1938–42).
All three models shared the same "brick" design, attributed to Gustave Fassin, but the C3 was by far the most successful.
It offered numerous improvements over the older model including an integrated rangefinder and coupled light meter. Garber's father, Alex Kolikow, taught her how to shoot with his Argus C3. A C3 Matchmatic was used by Colin Creevey in the 2002 film Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.
World War II soldier and photojournalist Tony Vaccaro took most of his images with an Argus C3, even developing the images in soldier's helmets. A C3 is the first camera used by Therese in the 2015 film Carol.
The basic C3 model underwent only minor revisions from its introduction until it was discontinued in 1966.
For instance, the number of shutter speeds was lowered from ten to seven to five, an accessory shoe was added, and the exposure reminder dial on the back of the camera was removed.
The C was replaced within just a few months by the C2, with a geared coupling between the rangefinder and the lens, greatly accelerating focusing and making the camera much more convenient to use.
Finally, in 1939 the C3 was introduced, with electrical plugs on the cameras left side for a battery-powered flash, synchronized to the shutter.The original Argus C was equipped with an uncoupled rangefinder which required the user to manually rotate the lens barrel to match the rangefinder reading, while the C2 coupled the rangefinder to the lens to allow one-step focusing.The C3 added built-in flash synchronization but was otherwise identical to the C2.Both models also featured distinctive finishes: two-tone tan and black leatherette on the Matchmatic and metallized PET film coating on the Golden Shield.The C33, sold from 1959 to 1960, was a significant departure from the basic model though it still featured the classic "brick" shape. President Jimmy Carter is on display at the Jimmy Carter Library and Museum in Atlanta. It was the camera used by Spy Magazine photographer Elizabeth Imbrie (Ruth Hussey) in The Philadelphia Story (1940), by Max Showalter in the 1953 film Niagara and by Polly Perkins (Gwyneth Paltrow) in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).Due to its shape, size, and weight, it is commonly referred to as "The Brick" by photographers (in Japan its nickname translates as "The Lunchbox").