New Toy: Old Airesflex

Every few years I get the itch to shoot some film—medium format, 4×5. So I dust off the old Mamiya I used a bit during high school and the even older Graflex that came from an auction on Cannery Row. I shoot a few rolls or sheets, feeling clumsy with the over-sized equipment, awkward with the slower pace of working. Then gradually the urge fades and I’m shooting digital again, exclusively.

Lately the itch for film has returned. This time, armed with a better scanner (an Epson V700) and additional motivations (noise-free long exposures at night), I think film-based images could become a more regular part of my oeuvre.  We’ll see.

I also treated myself to a new “vintage” twin lens reflex—a style of camera I’ve long wanted to try, but never yet used. Watching the auctions for modestly-priced TLRs on eBay, I soon scored a dusty but functional Airesflex for under $50. Aires…what? Airesflex was one of the less prominent among many manufacturers of twin lens reflex cameras in post-war Japan. This one probably dates from the mid-1950s (as do I) or a bit earlier. It has an all-metal body and a pretty good lens, according to some comments on the internet. It’s no Rolleiflex, and the image on the ground glass is fairly dim, but so far, the initial results aren’t bad.

The following were taken with the Airesflex, using Kodak BW400CN film, processed C-41 at a local lab, scanned on the Epson V700 at 500% and 300ppi, and adjusted using Photoshop and Nik Silver Efex Pro.

Water pump, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Rice fields and Yolo Causeway, Yolo Bypass Wildlife Area

Walnut trees, U.C. Davis Arboretum

One “feature” of the Airesflex is the absence of any sort of double exposure prevention mechanism. If you forget to wind the film forward, you start getting things like this:

I like this one, though. The background even has some unintended motion blur. The weird art is graffiti on an old concrete something-or-other at the west end of the Arboretum at UC Davis.

Tim Messick Photography • Graphics
Copyright © 2012 Tim Messick. All rights reserved.

About Tim Messick

Photographer, cartographer, and botanist/naturalist. Home is in Davis, California. Home-away-from-home is the eastern Sierra Nevada. Compiling a flora of the Bodie Hills.
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2 Responses to New Toy: Old Airesflex

  1. Reblogged this on Mittelformatfilme and commented:
    Great Camera

  2. pixelogist says:

    very nice! the results look similar to my yashica mat 124 that i bought last month. although i kinda messed up the processing on the first roll, got some sort of residue on it.. i use a similar scanner to u too (V600, does a decent job!) – hope my next roll goes off better haha! cheers

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