Going with a SQ-Ai. Things to look out for

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by hoffy, Apr 27, 2011.

  1. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Howdy all,

    After much deliberation, I have decided that I am going to buy a Bronica SQ-Ai, to replace a Koni-Omega that I could never get the hang of. From a camera point of view, I wanted a 6x6. I also wanted to have bulb settings, ect, so the SQ-Ai seems to be the best fit.

    I am curious, though, of a few things:

    Lenses
    OK, I am going to start with the 80 F2.8, but what are the key lenses to look at. I am looking at probably finding something to shoot portraits with. The obvious first point would be the 150mm. But does anyone have any experience with the 110mm Macro? Would that be a suitable portrait lens?

    What other lenses that are part of the system should I be considering (In general)

    Maintenance
    What are the key failure points on such camera's? I have read in that their have been light leak problems in earlier SQ backs. Is this still apparent in the later SQ-Ai? If so, is it a case of replacing seals/felts or is it more of a wear issue?

    Other Accessories
    What other accessories should I be looking for? At the moment, I am looking at one with a WLF. Apart from the metering aspects, is it worth my while going for an AE prism?

    What about grips and the like? Also, what portable flashes should I be looking at (if I go the AE prism and want to do TTL flash metering?)

    Cheers

    Oh and PS. If anyone mentions a RB/RZ, I'll freaken scream :wink:
     
  2. DWThomas

    DWThomas Subscriber

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    I have the 110 f4.5 1:1 Macro, it's a great lens and focuses to infinity, so I assume it could work for portraits. The 150 is less money (and doesn't focus very close). I also have a 50, 65 and 80 (all PS series). If I were doing it again, I'd probably skip the 65, but I acquired it long before I encountered a 50.

    I'd say the backs are the Achilles' heel, but the i series will tend to be newer. In any event, the problems (in my limited experience) are foam seals turning to goo. Jon Goodman/Interslice has a seal kit now, I believe. I redid one from one of his earlier generic kits, it wasn't a big deal.

    I got a non-AE prism; mainly to be able to see when I have the camera up too high to peer into the WLF. I got a grip that was too cheap to say no, but I almost always work with a tripod for the Bronica.
     
  3. Canuck

    Canuck Member

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    FWIW ...

    Good camera! I can say it with bias as I have a couple of Bronicas myself :tongue: FWIW, its just what I think so :tongue:

    RB/RZ :cool: :whistling:
     
  4. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Since you answered my questions Canuck, I'll keep the screaming to a minimum!
     
  5. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    I have the AE Prism VF and it is consistently inaccurate so if you get one make sure and test it. I love this camera (mine is the SQ-A) and I love shooting in 6x6. I also have the 645 back for it but rarely use it since I have an ETRs for that. I have the 50mm, 80mm and 150mm (all are the older S series). I especially enjoy using it hand held and believe that the leaf shutter Bronicas are some of the best for handheld medium format. Therefore I regularly use the speed grip.

    Of course I love my RB Pro SD too but that's another story. :tongue:
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, I am thinking of a grip, so I will keep an eye out for one.

    Mine is now ordered. I ended up getting a SQ-Ai, with WLF, 120 back and 80mm PS lens. This one is coming from the UK, so the next 5 to 7 days is going to probably drag a bit while it's being delivered....
     
  7. CGW

    CGW Member

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    The speed grip is a useful accessory that improves the SQ-Ai's ergonomics and doesn't add appreciable weight, unlike the motorized version. Get the matching hood for the 80mm--they're not hard to find. Extra 120 backs are a bit pricey; 220s are much cheaper and work with 120 film. I like the 45 degree prism finder, a compromise between the WLF and straight 90 degree prism. Lenses like the 135mm and 180mm are great but very rare. I'm partial to the old 105/3.5S.
     
  8. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, which model speed grip should I look for? I just don't want to accidently buy one that will only suit the SQ.

    Cheers
     
  9. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Bronica offered an accessory called the Speed Grip. It fits the SQ series, and provides for thumb wind in place of crank wind. It has a shutter release and a hot shoe (not TTL), and allows the camera to handle rather similarly to a 35mm camera. The sync cord on TTL flashes attaches to the SQ-Ai's body to give TTL metering. There is also a standard X-sync terminal on the body and of course the hot shoe on the Speed Grip.

    Info: www.tamron-usa.com/bronica/prod/sq.asp

    Guide to SQ series, including history: www.tamron-usa.com/bronica/sq_guide.asp

    Regarding portrait lenses: The PS 110mm/4.5 1:1 macro is wonderful, but IMO, expensive overkill for portraits.
    The 1:1 macro is much more expensive than the older macro PS, a 110 f/4, which focuses to 1:4.
    The 110 is only equivalent to about a 63mm in 135 format.

    The 150/4 is about equivalent to an 85mm, and focuses to 1.5 meters. The 135/4 is equivalent to a 76mm and focuses to 1 meter, meaning it will allow tighter portraits without an extension tube than the 150. KEH has one in BGN for $139 right now. The 180/4.5 is equivalent to a 100mm and also focuses to 1 meter, but I haven't seen those much. The 200/4.5 is equivalent to a 110, but only focuses to 2.5 meters, pretty much necessitating an extension tube (or a diopter on the front).
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 28, 2011
  10. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Bronica only made one, the Speed Grip S, that fits all SQ models except the SQ-AM. The only difference between old and new ones is the box.They usually run between $75-$125. Like most Bronica SQ accessories, prices are creeping up steadily. Just make very sure you're looking at the model for the SQ series and NOT the ETR 645 cameras. I've seen sellers mix 'em up.

    Some useful info here:

    http://www.ayton.id.au/gary/photo/photo_BronicaSQ.htm
     
  11. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, thanks. I had seen the Grip S, but I wasn't sure whether there was a more modern version.

    Cheers
     
  12. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Hoffy, if you are only going to use the WLF I don't think the speed grip is advisable. The speed grip allows you to hold the camera like an SLR, up in your face. The proximity of the shutter winding lever and the shutter release make it possible to continue shooting without taking the camera away from your face. So in practice the speed grip is only intended for users who have one of the prism viewfinders. If you are using the WLF the speed grip is actually quite difficult to use. It is easier to skip the speed grip all together and hold it like a Hassy and wind it with the crank handle.
     
  13. CGW

    CGW Member

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    That's not been my experience with the speed grip. It really eases hand holding what's otherwise a medium-sized brick--whatever the finder. Way more stable, too.
     
  14. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    Thanks for the advice RDJ. I do plan on getting an AE prism, but it's not a priority. The main reason i wanted the grip was to hold a flash....BUT, the more I think about it, the more impracticle this might be!!!!! Maybe the grip will have to wait until I do get a prism

    OK, next question. Does anyone know what the safe trigger voltage is for the Sync Port?
     
  15. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The flashes which will work with TTL (Metz, Sunpak, etc.) will have a module for the SQ-Ai, and will be safe.
    I don't know what the voltage limitations are, if any, for the standard X-sync PC terminal or hot shoe. Good question.
     
  16. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    Hmmm... When I hold the camera by the grip and lower it to waist level it naturally points directly at the ground. Trying to then contort my wrist so that the camera is actually pointing at what is in front of me is awkward at best. And if I do manage that I then find that the shutter release is very difficult to reach with my index finger. I guess it is just a matter of preference, but in my case speed grip at the waist is just painful. I would much rather go with the traditional "I'm holding a box" feel for waist level. But once the camera is up at eye level I appreciate the grip a great deal!
     
  17. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    I found the SQ's Speed Grip comfortable enough for waist-level work, but for winding I had to tilt it downward. I somewhat prefer the crank myself, for waist level work.
     
  18. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    OK, thanks. I should be OK with my studio monoblocks (rated at 6v for the trigger). I am thinking, though, that my acient Vivitar flash is best not going anywhere near this camera (trigger voltage > 200v!)
     
  19. KEK

    KEK Member

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    The only advice i would give you is to take your batteries out when you're not using the camera. I have a metered prism and if it's left on the batteries are done. I can't help you with a portrait lense but i love my 40mm it's extremely sharp. I also have a 50, 80, and 250. I also bought a second body(there cheap) which i leave the WLF on and leave the prism/speed grip on the other.