There is very little information to be found on the internet regarding this camera, which is a shame because in my opinion it’s in the same class as Kodak’s famous Retina line. In fact it too was produced in West Germany , like the Retina’s, and is one of the few Argus cameras to be manufactured overseas before the sixties. Manufacturing location is not where the Retina similarities end, at first glance the V100 looks like a rigid Retina such as the Automatic III.
Featuring similar body style design, a very sharp, 52mm Cintar II lens and Sychro-Compur shutter with speeds up to 1/500 of a second, the V100 is one classy camera. It also features a hot shoe that will work with most standard external bulb or electronic flash units. Like most Argus cameras the shutter release is on the front of the camera next to the lens assembly. The standard lens is fitted for Series V filters. A 45mm f/1.9 lens, and 48mm f2.0 were also available for this camera, but not interchangeable. The coupled rangefinder system is overlapping images, similar to the Kodak Retinas. There is also a depth of field scale on lens. To focus use the knurled ring at the base of the camera, much like the Zeiss Ikon Contaflex or Perfex Deluxe. The V100 also includes a cable release socket, 9 second timer and non-coupled meter with indicators for a specialized exposure index with matching settings on the lens. This exposure index system is similar to the EV scale on Kodak Retinas.
The main drawback the V100 is the awkward rewind and latch system for the camera back. A small plastic slide button on the back of the camera triggers the rewind knob which pops out of the top of the camera. This is very narrow and difficult to turn. Once the film is rewound, the same rewind knob must be pulled out even further from the camera to unlatch the back and create clearance for film removal. This causes too many working parts just to open the camera and as with mine (see above photo) if the small plastic slide button breaks, which it did almost immediately after receiving the camera it makes rewinding and opening the back nearly impossible. Other than this design flaw the camera is very solid and well made. This is a highly recommended rangefinder that delivers wonderful results at a modest price.
CLEANING AND REPAIR
Like most cameras found on EBay, this one needed a good cleaning. Luckily it was all external. This model came with a Series V Kodak Skylight filter which has protected the lens from scratches, dust and fungus. Windex cleaned up the metal exterior and rangefinder windows. Leather cleaner shined up the black leatherette. Unfortunately as with many older cameras with a built-in Selenium meter, the meter was dead on arrival. If you receive a V100 that has several problems I would advise against home repairs unless you’re quite experienced in working with this type of camera. This is no C3 or C44. Much like a Kodak Retina or Zeiss Ikon Contaflex, I’d suggest leaving complex repairs to a trained professional.
Not too common on the ‘bay the V-100 usually goes for around 20-30 dollars when found. These are nice cameras and produce quality results, but luckily don’t command high prices so no more than 40-50 dollars should be spent on ‘pristine’ models. They can usually be found with the brown leather case. The 45mm f1.9 and 48mm f2.0 are less common so they may garner a higher price. The built-in selenium meter usually has a cover, and still may not work after all of these years, but don’t be disappointed if it no longer functions. Shipping shouldn’t be more then 8-12 dollars depending on destination and method used.