Argus Instant Load 284


Argus was originally known for making the 35mm camera popular in America through their highly affordable A and C3 series cameras. But they certainly noticed the big craze over Kodak's new 126 film cartridge which debuted in 1963 and sold 12 million Kodak cameras by 1966.

Argus entered the 126 camera market in 1964 with the Argus 260. The Instant Load 284 was released in 1967 as the top end of the Argus 126 cartridge lineup and originally sold for $87. At this stage in its history, Argus was having other manufacturers make a lot of its models and the 284 was made in Japan by Sedic. It has a hot shoe, a flash cube socket and a PC socket - this is the most options for flash on any camera I own!

It has a CdS cell that could be used to automatically set the shutter speed and aperture. The CdS cell on mine no longer really works accurately enough to use the automatic setting. Fortunately, the 284 has manual aperture settings from f/2.8 to f/22. The shutter speed without a battery appears to be around 1/50. It has two battery compartments, one for the button sized air-cell that drives the CdS meter and another for the obsolete PX-825 batteries to power the flash cube.

While the 126 cartridges are no longer sold, you can easily reload a 126 cartridge with 35mm film. See my article on how to do this.

Focusing is by distance scale, there is no built in rangefinder. Fortunately the distance markings are both on the lens and viewable through the viewfinder. The 40mm lens gives a reasonably sharp center picture, but noticeably softer as you move away from the center. Overall, much better than a Kodak Instamatic 104 and even better than Kodak's top of the line Instamatic 500, although the 284 is much bigger and heavier than either of the Kodaks. The lens is threaded to directly take a Series VI retaining ring so you can either use Series VI filters and hoods or a 44mm to 49mm step up ring to use more modern filters.

Here are a couple of sample photos from the 284 taken on Kodak T-Max 100:

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