Now almost a forgotten and fairly unknown brand, Aires was once a promising Japanese camera manufacturer, operating in the 1950s and making a number of 35mm rangefinder cameras. By 1960, however, its factory doors had shut and production halted after a myriad of poor-selling models. It’s generally accepted that a failed attempt to transition into SLR style cameras whilst being overshadowed by larger companies led to this unfortunate ending.
I managed to purchase my Aires 35-IIIL from eBay for around 60USD. Equipped with the H Coral lens (4.5cm, f1.9), it’s a fixed lens rangefinder. While evidently inspired by contemporaneous Leica models, most Aires cameras have a particular charm to their design. I found myself fascinated by the company’s history and began to trawl the Internet for more information. I read that while earlier models generally had slower lenses, the 35-IIIL sat somewhere in the middle with more advanced models such as the 35-IIIS even including a selenium bulb light meter, and the 35-V adding a system of interchangeable lenses.
Despite the company’s short-lived history, the 35-IIIL is not only is built extraordinarily well but also has a lens that produces images of stunning sharpness and effect. After putting a couple rolls of film through it I began to appreciate more the virtues of using a fixed lens camera; something I was initially apprehensive of. Being relatively new to film photography, I struggled at first with the rangefinder style focussing, primarily because age had significantly dimmed the rangefinders lines. However with some practise I really started to enjoy and develop a fondness for this unique camera.
These 5 photos were taken in either my home city Hong Kong or on a brief holiday to
Hanoi on Fuji C200 or Fuji 100 film.
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