Bronica Medium Format Owners Thread

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#1
At the moment, there is a thread for Mamiya Medium Format Camera owners, but nothing for those of us who use or are interested in Bronicas. I was hoping to start a thread to discuss, ask questions regarding, or share photographs taken with Zenza Bronica cameras. I currently own both an SQ-A and SQ-B with an assortment of lenses and accessories, so I can definitely share my experiences with the SQ system, but I'm sure that there are others on the forum with knowledge of, experience with, or questions about the ETR series, the GS-1, RF645, and the many focal-plane shutter models.

So, are folks interested in talking about Bronicas? If yes, it'd be great to hear from you!


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#2
Yes! I am. I've had my Sq-A for three weeks now and not a single shot taken with it. Stupid illness.

So, first question - got any strap suggestions? I've tried it with my QStrap sling, but I'm not convinced that dangling it upside down is a good idea, and of course it offers no support for hand held shots.
 
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Yes! I am. I've had my Sq-A for three weeks now and not a single shot taken with it. Stupid illness.

So, first question - got any strap suggestions? I've tried it with my QStrap sling, but I'm not convinced that dangling it upside down is a good idea, and of course it offers no support for hand held shots.
Shame about the illness, but hopefully you'll be able to get out to use your SQ-A soon!

With regard to the strap, I had a sling strap when I still used my DSLR, but I don't find that style very helpful with Bronicas or any camera with a waist level finder for that matter.

I really just use normal neck straps for my Bronicas and my Minolta Autocord (as you can see in my avatar), which I keep relatively tight, as this allows me to compose or focus easily with the strap taking some of the weight and helping to keep the camera steady.

By keeping the strap taught and resting the camera against my body, I can limit unwanted camera movement, permitting me to shoot at slower shutter speeds than I might have been able to otherwise. This has allowed me to get down to 1/15 or so, although you will probably need to lock up the mirror with the SQ-A to reduce the effects of mirror vibration.

I also find most people ignore me if the camera is dangling from my neck, so it's easy to get good candid or street shots.
 

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#4
Well I have the ETRS (bought new) and it's working OK so no problems to ask questions....am looking for a 40 or 50mm lens if anyone is giving up film.
 
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#5
I have been looking at getting a full medium format system to compliment my TLR, as it is a bugger to use filters on a TLR. There is a Bronica SQ-Ai + 80mm f/2.8, WLF, 120 Back for sale down in Brighton at the moment, but I know nothing about the SQ-Ai model, any help?

It is either that, or I save and splash out on a Hassy...
 
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#6
I recently purchases a Bronica ETRSi with a 75mm PE lens and WLF. Run a quick test roll through it. To be honest I am really impressed. Great detail and doesn't feel as large / bulky as what I thought it was. For anyone looking to get a medium format system I would definitely recommend it :) You can get a nice bit of kit for your money
 
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#7
I have been looking at getting a full medium format system to compliment my TLR, as it is a bugger to use filters on a TLR. There is a Bronica SQ-Ai + 80mm f/2.8, WLF, 120 Back for sale down in Brighton at the moment, but I know nothing about the SQ-Ai model, any help?

It is either that, or I save and splash out on a Hassy...
The Ai won't fire at all with no battery (the SQ-A will fire at 1/500). The batteries are a bit more annoying for the Ai I believe (four small ones, not one big one). The SQ-Ai has a bulb setting, but the SQ-A only has the manual T setting for > 4s shots. The Ai has some support for TTL flash. It seemed to be the two biggest differences is that the Ai usually comes with a PS lens, which has better coatings and half-stop apertures, and that for that reason they were quite a bit more expensive. @skysh4rk convinced me to with the SQ-A, and I'm happy with my choice, but I bet the SQ-Ai is a great choice too.

I also ummed and ahed about splashing out on a Hasselblad, but in the end I realised that I'm much more likely to buy a Zenzanon lens for £175 than I am a Zeiss one for £400. I went for the cliched 90% quality for 50% price in the end.
 
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#8
good thread :) ive an ETRSi at the moment, did have a B but traded that in and tbh im missing the square frame a little so im tempted to go and get it back! The test for how much i like the ETR will be next weekend when im in the lake district. But its small , light(ish) and the lenses are decent enough quality.

Two queries though,

Whats a good telephoto lens? i want somethin 150mm and over and

The zone focusing ring doesnt seem to work. I tried it out the other day, set the focus ring so that everything between a certain range should of been in focus and absolutely nothing was. If i focus the lens visually as normal then its sharp as a pin, but the ranges on the barrel clearly mean nothing.
 
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#9
I have been looking at getting a full medium format system to compliment my TLR, as it is a bugger to use filters on a TLR. There is a Bronica SQ-Ai + 80mm f/2.8, WLF, 120 Back for sale down in Brighton at the moment, but I know nothing about the SQ-Ai model, any help?

It is either that, or I save and splash out on a Hassy...
What would you like to know about the SQ-Ai? I used to own one and it's almost exactly the same as the SQ-A and the SQ-B that I still own. One of its biggest advantages over most other 6x6 SLRs and the others in the SQ range is that it is capable of TTL flash with the appropriate flash gun and Metz adaptor.

The thing that I don't like about the SQ-Ai is that the batteries and the battery compartment can be a royal pain (it uses a different battery than the SQ-A, some battery brands just don't fit right, and the battery cover can easily be lost). Because of the battery issues, I sold my SQ-Ai and now have an SQ-B, which uses the same batteries as the SQ-A. If you get a good condition SQ-Ai and don't own an SQ-A, then you might not really have any problems.

I recently purchases a Bronica ETRSi with a 75mm PE lens and WLF. Run a quick test roll through it. To be honest I am really impressed. Great detail and doesn't feel as large / bulky as what I thought it was. For anyone looking to get a medium format system I would definitely recommend it :) You can get a nice bit of kit for your money
The Bronica lenses really are quite nice, eh? For the money, the Bronicas are fantastic value.
 
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#10
What would you like to know about the SQ-Ai? I used to own one and it's almost exactly the same as the SQ-A and the SQ-B that I still own. One of its biggest advantages over most other 6x6 SLRs and the others in the SQ range is that it is capable of TTL flash with the appropriate flash gun and Metz adaptor.

The thing that I don't like about the SQ-Ai is that the batteries and the battery compartment can be a royal pain (it uses a different battery than the SQ-A, some battery brands just don't fit right, and the battery cover can easily be lost). Because of the battery issues, I sold my SQ-Ai and now have an SQ-B, which uses the same batteries as the SQ-A. If you get a good condition SQ-Ai and don't own an SQ-A, then you might not really have any problems.



The Bronica lenses really are quite nice, eh? For the money, the Bronicas are fantastic value.
Indeed. Im not sure if there are many differences between the EII and PE lenses. I think the PE are supposed to be slightly better going by what I read although it is probably marginal. I need to shoot more from it, maybe get some Portra 400 through it over the weekend.
 
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#11
The Ai won't fire at all with no battery (the SQ-A will fire at 1/500). The batteries are a bit more annoying for the Ai I believe (four small ones, not one big one). The SQ-Ai has a bulb setting, but the SQ-A only has the manual T setting for > 4s shots. The Ai has some support for TTL flash. It seemed to be the two biggest differences is that the Ai usually comes with a PS lens, which has better coatings and half-stop apertures, and that for that reason they were quite a bit more expensive. @skysh4rk convinced me to with the SQ-A, and I'm happy with my choice, but I bet the SQ-Ai is a great choice too.

I also ummed and ahed about splashing out on a Hasselblad, but in the end I realised that I'm much more likely to buy a Zenzanon lens for £175 than I am a Zeiss one for £400. I went for the cliched 90% quality for 50% price in the end.
Oh yeah, forgot to mention that the SQ-Ai doesn't have a mechanical fall back shutter speed. This is both a pro and a con. It's a con because it means you're stuck with nothing if your battery dies or something goes wrong with the electronics of the camera. It's a pro, because at least you know something is wrong with the camera if it doesn't fire. I went a whole day once firing every shot at 1/500 on my SQ-A and didn't know it, as there is no warning until you get the film back.

Edit:

Below is what happens when your electronics die on you and you don't realise it with an SQ-A. It's fine if you know that the camera isn't working, as you can adjust exposure appropriately for the 1/500 speed, but you're screwed if you don't know and you're shooting slide film, which will end up underexposed for every frame that's not shot at 1/500. With the SQ-Ai, however, the advantage is that you would learn quickly that your camera isn't working, but you would be left with a useless brick until it gets fixed, which would be especially painful in the middle of a big trip.



The good news with Bronica, at least the SQ series anyway, is that they're fairly robust (I've knocked and dropped mine on several different continents now), but if something does go wrong, they seem to be perfectly fixable.
 
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excalibur2

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#12
...even with the useful extras it's still very good for any type of shot..and you get 15 per roll.


 
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Indeed. Im not sure if there are many differences between the EII and PE lenses. I think the PE are supposed to be slightly better going by what I read although it is probably marginal. I need to shoot more from it, maybe get some Portra 400 through it over the weekend.
I don't know about the ETR lenses, but with the older and newer SQ lenses (the S and PS lenses, respectively), I really can't see any differences in the images that they produce, although the newer ones are supposed to have better coating to reduce flare.
 

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#14
Whats a good telephoto lens? i want somethin 150mm and over and

.
The 150mm f3.5 (better than F4) is very good....bought one about 4 months ago haven't used it yet, but knew the 150mm was a good lens up to 25 years ago by many reports.
 
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#15
good thread :) ive an ETRSi at the moment, did have a B but traded that in and tbh im missing the square frame a little so im tempted to go and get it back! The test for how much i like the ETR will be next weekend when im in the lake district. But its small , light(ish) and the lenses are decent enough quality.

Two queries though,

Whats a good telephoto lens? i want somethin 150mm and over and

The zone focusing ring doesnt seem to work. I tried it out the other day, set the focus ring so that everything between a certain range should of been in focus and absolutely nothing was. If i focus the lens visually as normal then its sharp as a pin, but the ranges on the barrel clearly mean nothing.
I haven't used the ETR system before, but I do believe that its lenses used similar formulas to the SQ lenses. I own 135mm and 180mm PS lenses and they're both very good, particularly the 180mm as it focuses as close as one metre, which is great for portraits.

Regarding the focusing scale, DOF is determined by a number of factors, including print size, magnification, etc., so it's not uncommon that these don't match up depending on how you're viewing your images. I suppose it could even be labelled incorrectly as well. As a starting point, you might want to focus on a subject, measure its distance from the film plane, and then check the distance indicated on the lens to see how they compare.
 
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#16
I bought a SQ Ai as my first MF camera about 18mhs ago and have loved using it. Since then I've bought and sold a mamiya 645 because it wasn't a patch on my SQ .. IMHO. Having a forum specially for Bronica will be a great asset as there are few places to go to ask for advice other than owners and their experiences.
 
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#17
Great idea for a thread RJ.

I have both an ETRS and an SQ-A.

I do have an issue with my ETRS. Twice now I have managed to open the back and ruin a film by lifting the camera out of my bag and inadvertently pushing on one of the release clips on the film back which has sprung open.

I know you are not supposed to be able to release the film back without pushing both tabs in at the side but my back must be needing adjustment. My hitech solution for this? A piece of masking tape and a lump of blutak. Since then it's been okay.
 
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#18
Great idea for a thread RJ.

I have both an ETRS and an SQ-A.

I do have an issue with my ETRS. Twice now I have managed to open the back and ruin a film by lifting the camera out of my bag and inadvertently pushing on one of the release clips on the film back which has sprung open.

I know you are not supposed to be able to release the film back without pushing both tabs in at the side but my back must be needing adjustment. My hitech solution for this? A piece of masking tape and a lump of blutak. Since then it's been okay.
I was corresponding recently with someone who was experiencing similar problems with their SQ back. After studying the locking mechanism, he noticed that the male part of the latch wasn't quite in the same plane as the female part, so he used his thumb to reposition the latch, which seemed to do the trick.

The only time I've personally had the back open was when I stupidly just pressed the two release clips together when I was trying to swap off the entire back. Doh!
 
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#23
Enough with all of your 'modern' Bronicas! Here is my much older S2, seen here with the Nikkor 200m lens, sitting on my similarly aged Linhof tripod...




Steve.
Nice :) I did nearly get an S2. Good to see this thread (thanks RJ). I wondered whether there were many Bronica users at all the other day but they are now coming out of the woodwork :)
 
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#25
Are any of the SQ-A lenses considered to be lemons, btw? I've seen the 150mm 3.5 going pretty cheap in a few places.
I haven't used the 150mm, but every Bronica lens I've owned has been very good optically, even wide open. If there are any weaknesses in the Bronica line of lenses, it tends to be things like long minimum-focus-distances or relatively slow apertures compared to other MF camera systems, but these things are easily worked around. I'm not really sure about the optical quality of the really long Bronica lenses though (e.g., the 250mm or the 500mm), perhaps someone else will be along to comment on them.

The 150mm f/3.5 will likely be a little cheaper as it is the older S model and they're quite plentiful; the newer PS 150mm lenses were f/4. There are probably some differences between the S and the PS, but I'm sure that both perform well and that there's little difference in practice.

The main reason I never picked up either of the 150mm lenses is that they don't focus closely enough for tight portraits (1.5m, I think). The 135mm and 180mm both focus down to one metre.
 
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#26
Cheers!

The guy I bought the SQ-A from had a 40mm f4 for £125 at the same time, which I stupidly dithered on and it went within hours.
 
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#27
Cheers!

The guy I bought the SQ-A from had a 40mm f4 for £125 at the same time, which I stupidly dithered on and it went within hours.
Oh, I probably would have jumped at that. I'm not much of a wide angle guy, but that's pretty competitively priced, provided it were in good condition.
 
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#28
Oh, I probably would have jumped at that. I'm not much of a wide angle guy, but that's pretty competitively priced, provided it were in good condition.
Indeed. I basically thought "well, you haven't got the camera yet, don't go buying lenses too!" and "two unusually competitively priced buy-it-now auctions from the same guy - danger Will Robinson". As it happens, the camera was immaculate, and the 40mm looked it too. £125 is less than the 50mm goes for. Oh, well.
 
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#29
The main reason I never picked up either of the 150mm lenses is that they don't focus closely enough for tight portraits (1.5m, I think).
The 200mm Nikkor on my S2 would have originally been supplied with a supplementary lens to allow for closer focusing. I haven't got it though.

A +1 or +2 lens could be an option though.


Steve.
 
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#30
The 200mm Nikkor on my S2 would have originally been supplied with a supplementary lens to allow for closer focusing. I haven't got it though.

A +1 or +2 lens could be an option though.


Steve.
Yeah and there are also options for extension tubes and bellows for a number of Bronica systems. The bellows for the S2, in fact, is capable of tilt/shift movements, which could be quite fun.

There are a few Bronica lenses for the modern systems that do focus closely (e.g., 110mm, 135mm, and 180mm); they're just usually more expensive.
 
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#31
I finally got out and took some shots with my SQ-A. I went up to the canal basin in Brecon, had a very nice lunch, and then took 5 or 6 carefully composed shots, on a tripod, with mirror-lockup. It was only when I looked down at the shot counter that I realised that at no point since I'd been dry-firing the camera to test it had I taken it out of multi-exposure mode. D'oh!

By this time, 3 weeks of illness had caught up with me, so, I went back and took a bunch of shots hand-held with no mirror lock-up and snap-shot composition. Oh well! I might get lucky, and it was nice to be out.

I have to say, I'm glad I never went with an RB67. The SQ-A is plenty heavy enough for me on a warm day.
 
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#32
Well Keith you and probably all other users have done this. Don't discount the end result I've had a few happy accidents with multiexposures. Just think the next 11 will be brilliant :)
 
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#33
I finally got out and took some shots with my SQ-A. I went up to the canal basin in Brecon, had a very nice lunch, and then took 5 or 6 carefully composed shots, on a tripod, with mirror-lockup. It was only when I looked down at the shot counter that I realised that at no point since I'd been dry-firing the camera to test it had I taken it out of multi-exposure mode. D'oh!

By this time, 3 weeks of illness had caught up with me, so, I went back and took a bunch of shots hand-held with no mirror lock-up and snap-shot composition. Oh well! I might get lucky, and it was nice to be out.
Nope, I've never done that before... ;)

At any rate, it's better to learn that lesson now rather than when you're shooting something important. I've certainly made my fair share of mistakes, but those experiences help to minimise such issues in the future.

I also wouldn't worry too much about the handheld shots without mirror lock up; I shoot 99% of my photos handheld and I haven't had a problem getting sharp shots. I can consistently shoot at 1/60 with good results, although I have had a lot of practice handling the SQ-A, so individual mileage may vary.
 

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#34
I finally got out and took some shots with my SQ-A. I went up to the canal basin in Brecon, had a very nice lunch, and then took 5 or 6 carefully composed shots, on a tripod, with mirror-lockup. It was only when I looked down at the shot counter that I realised that at no point since I'd been dry-firing the camera to test it had I taken it out of multi-exposure mode. D'oh!

By this time, 3 weeks of illness had caught up with me, so, I went back and took a bunch of shots hand-held with no mirror lock-up and snap-shot composition. Oh well! I might get lucky, and it was nice to be out.

I have to say, I'm glad I never went with an RB67. The SQ-A is plenty heavy enough for me on a warm day.
Might not be mentioned in "101 ways to ruin a roll of film" :(
The other day I opened the back of my RB67 and forgot there was film in it, as I thought I'd put the film in the ETRS :rolleyes:
 
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#40
This thread has seemingly fallen off of the front page in the Film and Conventional section, so I thought I'd give it a little bump with some photos I've recently taken with my SQ-B. The first two photos were with my S 105mm f/3.5 lens and the last two were with the PS 180mm f/4.5 portrait lens:





 
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