Argus / Cosina STL 1000
If you ever plan to brave the wilderness and take a camera with you, the best bet is the Argus / Cosina STL 1000. Same as the hyphenated Brits were destined to become army officers, this long-named monster has been created to become a warrior. Ever threatened by a black bear or irate hippo – just grab it by the strap, swing above your head and hit the animal between the eyes. If you hit, good. Clean the camera and continue. If not, run. Fast.
About 960 gr – 2 lbs, all heavy metal reminds me of the time back in 1983 when I wandered in Disney World with an AE-1P and a JVC miniature VHS camera. I will not elaborate on the video camera, being a mini at that time was as large as a shoebox, so I abandoned it after one day of hard labour. The AE-1P is about 100 gr lighter than the STL 1000. My heart goes for the laborious photographers of the ’70s.
This is not the platform to reminiscence about the American camera industry. The Cameras made in the US, save for a few exceptions, were ugly, low tech and poorly made. Argus had some good sellers, neither came close to the Europeans. After the war, when the Japanese camera industry flourished, much relying on cottage industries making parts, the American conceded. Kodak hi-tech cameras were German, and the other American manufacturers that were not taken over by Kodak either continued with junk cameras or rebranded Japanese made products. So here we are.
This 1970 camera is monstrous. It takes two hands to hold, let alone operate, where ten years later SLRs became friendlier to mortals. As derived by its name, it is made by Cosina, a decent manufacturer that wasn’t too lucky under own brand but made cameras for many distributors. This is an exception as the Cosina banner is presented on the front. A 42mm thread as was common at the time, a vertical metal curtain, one of the early ones. Good selection of speeds, up to 1000, a hot shoe, as well as M & X adapters on its side, as if the front is too small. The meter needle is on the right side of the smallish viewer. This huge camera could have a larger viewer. The meter is activated by a switch on the lens barrel’s left side. I always fall into it, where I struggle to make the needle move, forgetting the damned switch. Battery supposed to be 1.35V; installed an AG13 and it works.
There is a toggle switch at the bottom of the lens, select the position at your own peril, lest you’ll crack a fingernail. It supposed to toggle between manual and automatic mode. Didn’t spend much time figuring it out. Opening the back is German style, with a lever at the bottom. Self-timer buzzes nicely.
It is said that the STL 1000 is similar to the Cosina H-Lite. There are many Hi-Lite cameras, I do not have any, so I’ll take this opinion. The only other Cosina cameras that passed on my desk are the CT-1 and CT-10, neither got me excited.