The Aram Six (アラムシックス) is a Japanese 6×6 folding camera with a coupled rangefinder, made by Aram Kōgaku Kenkyūjo.
The Aram Six is a horizontal folder. The top housing contains a combined range- and viewfinder. The common eyepiece is offset to the left, as seen by the photographer. The viewfinder has an internal frame for 4.5×6cm exposures and parallax marks. There is an accessory shoe in the middle of the top housing. The name Aram Six is engraved in front of it and the serial number is on the right.
The lens standard moves back and forth for focusing. This is driven by a thumbwheel placed at the right end of the top plate, graduated in feet from infinity to 2.2ft. The set distance is visible through a hole in the top housing, surrounded by depth-of-field indications. The front standard automatically comes back to the infinity position when the folding bed is closed.
The body release is next to the distance wheel. The advance knob is at the left end of the top plate. It has an arrow to indicate the winding direction. The back is hinged to the right and contains two red windows to control film advance: one at the top for 4.5×6cm exposures and the other at the centre for 6×6cm exposures. The red window covers are accordingly marked 4.5X6 and 6X6.
The camera was designed by Nakagawa Kenzō (中川幹三), who created the Leotax rangefinder camera and founded Shōwa Kōgaku in 1938. It was presented as the Aram Automat (アラム・オートマット) in various Japanese magazines in the summer of 1954. Various advanced features were announced, such as automatic stop film advance and double exposure prevention, close focusing ability down to 60cm, automatic parallax correction and coupling of the shutter cocking to the film advance. It was said that the camera mechanisms were protected by a dozen patents (十数ヵ所の特許). A magazine article certainly dated late 1954 says that the experimental models were completed in May 1954 and that the camera would soon enter serial production.
Of these features, only the close focusing ability was retained for the first production version described above, called the Aram Six or Aram Six I. The company Aram Kōgaku Kenkyūjo had ties with Konishiroku, working as a subcontractor for the auto-stop advance mechanism of the Pearl III. This certainly explains the choice of the Konitor lens and Konirapid-S shutter. The choice of the three-element Konitor instead of the four-element Hexar seems rather unfortunate for such an ambitious camera; perhaps it was due to reluctance on behalf of Konishiroku to mount the Hexar on an off-brand camera. More advanced versions were planned as the Aram Six II and Aram Six III, incorporating auto-stop advance and an unknown number of other features. Nakagawa asked Konishiroku to distribute the camera but the company refused and the Aram Six was finally distributed by Rokuwa.
It is said that the distribution problems delayed the camera's market release until 1956, making it appear too late, at a time when 35mm cameras were displacing the antiquated folders. Another source says that the camera was sold from July 1954 but soon discontinued because it was poorly marketed. It is said that only 100 examples of the Aram Six were made, it is not known if this corresponds to the experimental models mentioned in the late 1954 article.
Surviving examples Edit
The Aram Six is pictured in Sugiyama and various other sources, but it seems that all the pictures show the same example with lens no.1596. The Konitor 75mm f/3.5 lens no.1943 has been pictured in a Konirapid-S shutter with PC synch socket; this lens and shutter unit might correspond to the Aram Six but it is also reported that the same equipment was mounted on a few examples of the Pearl III.
- ↑ Inside the viewfinder: Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ 2.2ft: Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ Three elements: Yazawa, p.15 of Camera Collectors' News no.254; Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ Sugiyama, pp.47 and 76, based on an interview of Mr Nakagawa himself. The name Nakagawa Kennosuke (中川謙之助) is given in Lewis, p.86, and in Japanese magazines of the 1950s (according to Kuno, pp.96–7 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8), but this is surely a mistake.
- ↑ Articles and advertisements listed in Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345.
- ↑ Literally, a number from ten to nineteen. Article in the July 1954 issue of Nihon Camera, quoted in Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ Article in the 1955 camera annual of Nihon Camera, certainly published at the end of 1954, quoted in Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ Sugiyama, p.76, in the Japanese text only, and Yazawa, p.13 of Camera Collectors' News no.254.
- ↑ Kuno, p.97 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8; Sugiyama, p.76, in the Japanese text only.
- ↑ Kuno, p.97 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8.
- ↑ Sugiyama, p.76.
- ↑ Lewis, p.86.
- ↑ Sugiyama, p.76.
- ↑ Pictures in Kuno, p.96 of Kurashikku Kamera Senka no.8, Sugiyama, item 1270, Kokusan kamera no rekishi, p.345, Lewis, p.86, and Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten, p.8.
- ↑ Picture in Yuzawa, p.14 of Camera Collectors' News no.254. For the Pearl III with Konitor, see the corresponding page.
- Asahi Camera (アサヒカメラ) editorial staff. Shōwa 10–40nen kōkoku ni miru kokusan kamera no rekishi (昭和10–40年広告にみる国産カメラの歴史, Japanese camera history as seen in advertisements, 1935–1965). Tokyo: Asahi Shinbunsha, 1994. ISBN 4-02-330312-7. Item 368. (No advertisement is reproduced for the Aram Six.)
- Kuno Mikio (久野幹雄). "Aramu shikkusu no nazo" (アラムシックスの謎, Aram Six mystery). Kamera Rebyū: Kurashikku Kamera Senka (カメラレビュー クラシックカメラ専科) / Camera Review: All about Historical Cameras no.8, September 1986. No ISBN number. Supuringu kamera (スプリングカメラ, special issue on spring cameras). Pp.96–7.
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), ISBN 0-935398-16-3 (hard). P.86.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). P.72.
- Omoide no supuringu-kamera-ten (思い出のスプリングカメラ展, Exhibition of beloved self-erecting cameras). Tokyo: JCII Camera Museum, 1992. (Exhibition catalogue, no ISBN number.) P.8.
- Sugiyama, Kōichi (杉山浩一); Naoi, Hiroaki (直井浩明); Bullock, John R. The Collector's Guide to Japanese Cameras. 国産カメラ図鑑 (Kokusan kamera zukan). Tokyo: Asahi Sonorama, 1985. ISBN 4-257-03187-5. Item 1270.
- Yazawa Seiichirō (矢沢征一郎). "Renzu no hanashi (164) Konitā" (レンズの話コニター, Lens story  Konitor). In Camera Collectors' News no.254 (August 1998). Nishinomiya: Camera Collectors News-sha. Pp.13–6.