Hassy 500c/m or the Bronica SQAi

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Chris Harvey, Jun 3, 2011.

  1. Chris Harvey

    Chris Harvey Member

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    Hi Folks, I’ve just sold my Mamiya 645 because I want to move towards 6x6 format. My dilemma is over going down the Hassy route or the Bronica route. My thoughts at the moment are:

    Hassy body slightly more expensive, lens much more expensive and complex with inbuilt shutters (lots to go wrong), build quality fantastic but probably been well used by pros but then probably well serviced

    Bronica body slightly less expensive but lenses appear half the price of the Hassy and much less complex. Overall build quality prob not up to the Hassy, I guess most likely to have been owned enthusiast.

    If I bought a Hassy, I’d only really be able to afford just the 80mm lens, if I went Bronica I might be able to afford the 80mm plus say a 40 or 50mm too. I’m only interested in the WLF and not a prism

    Uses, well it won’t be my main workhorse camera that’s a Nikon D300 etc. The Medium Format is really just a very pleasurable indulgence and the 6x6 format the WLF will give me a new slant on composition.

    So the big Q Hassy or Bronny? Your thoughts please.

    Thanks

    Chris
     
  2. Gerry M

    Gerry M Member

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    I know I will get hooted down for this, but here is my experience. I've had two SQAi's kitted out as you describe, plus some extras. I also had two 500C's with 80 and 50 Distagon. I'll be the first to say that I am just a bumbling hobbyist and far from being an expert. That said, the Bronica's served my purpose very well and at my level gave results equal to the H'blad. OK, bring out the flame throwers. :smile:
     
  3. Paul Green

    Paul Green Member

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    If it's not going to be your main camera then go with the Bronica.
     
  4. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

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    Either one will work great. But how much money do you want to spend per unit of usefulness? I would say that a Bronica kit is 90 percent of a Hasselblad kit for 50 percent (or less) of the price. If you can afford the Hasselblad, go for it. If not, there is zero shame in that. And pretty much anything you can do with the Hasselblad, you can also do with the Bronica. Personally, I'd go the Bronica route, though I do love Hasselblads.
     
  5. film_man

    film_man Member

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    Ok, first you're a bit mistaken with regards to the lenses. The SQ cameras also use leaf shutters in the lenses. So, as far as complexity goes, it is the same. As someone who owned a SQB (with 80PSB, 150PS and 150S) and currently owns a 501CM (with 50CT, 80CB, 250CT) I'll just say that out of all this equipment the 150S was the one with the dodgy shutter. However, that is not to say one is more reliable than the other (you can't conclude from a sample of 6 lenses...) and the Bronica certainly has the advantage of not needing servicing as the shutters are controlled electronically (i.e. no drift).

    As for which one to get...looking at the photos from either system I can almost tell which is which but that is not to say one is better than the other. The Hasselblad shots have that Zeiss microcontrast and punchier look, depending on lighting, but the Bronica ones are also very sharp. In any case, this is picking hair and I'd be happy with either system, when it comes to image quality. I think the strongest differences are more evident when shooting slides but if your end result is scanning that pretty much flattens any aesthetic differences.

    Basically it comes down to this: while the Hasselblad is theoretically superior in image quality, the differences in the real world are that the Hasselblad is nicer to hold and use than the Bronica (some may disagree, this is a personal issue like Canon vs Nikon handling). Whether that is worth the very high premium you pay over Bronica prices is up to you. If this is not your main camera then get a SQAi with the lenses you want instead of a 500CM with just the 80. If eventually you decide that you want a Hasselblad, you can sell the SQAi for pretty much whatever you bought it for. Any money you lose consider it a rental fee.

    PS
    You say you're not interested in a prism. That would in fact be an advantage on the Hasselblad. I found the stock screen and the plain prism for the Bronica much dimmer than the new type screen and PM90 on the Hasselblad.
     
  6. hoffy

    hoffy Member

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    I went through the same decision as you recently and ended up going the Bronica. While I would have dearly loved to have bought a 'blad and like you, could have afforded a 500C/M and 80mm lens, to build the system from there was much more then I was willing to budget. I have to be honest to myself. This is a Hobby and while I do have some form of disposable income, it doesn't stretch to spending the thousands that I would have required to spend to buy 'blad glass. The other thing that swayed me as well is there is still new glass out there (not a lot, but it still does exist) for SQ's, and even that is cheaper then s/h 'blad glass.

    Again, this was my thought decision. Your circumstances may be different!

    Cheers
     
  7. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    I will leave my flamethrower in its box and say that I would probably choose the SQ as well. A Hasselblad would be nice but even if I could afford it, extra lenses are a lot more than the Bronica Lenses.

    I started out in MF SLRs with a Bronica ETRS which was all I could (almost) afford. When I got a bit more money I bought an RB67. I think that if I had bought an SQ instead of an ETRS at the beginning I would have stayed with it and not bought the RB67.


    Steve.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jun 3, 2011
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    The reliability and results are so similar from the two that it doesn't really matter, honestly. It's still YOU making the pictures.
     
  9. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Whilst this is perfectly true, not many of us are immune from the idea of having the logo of a premium manufaturer on our equipment. Like Leica, Hasselblad..... or Gretsch!


    Steve.
     
  10. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    There will always be that, of course. I am somewhat guilty of that myself, but I wouldn't be miserable to trade my Hasselblad for a Bronica system in similarly excellent condition. :smile:

    I've always wanted a Gibson ES 335.

    - T
     
  11. benjiboy

    benjiboy Subscriber

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    I would do some research into which would be easiest to have serviced, and the availability of spare parts.
     
  12. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    That's a very good suggestion. I know of quite a couple of places that will service a Hasselblad. There is a serious shortage of parts for older lenses with Compur shutters, so the newer CF, CFi, and CFE lenses are definitely to prefer. But they are also more expensive, by far.

    I'm not sure about Bronica.
     
  13. bdial

    bdial Subscriber

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    The first time I owned a Hasselblad was 30 or so years ago, and I could only afford one lens. Loved working with it, but finally got frustrated with that situation and traded it for a new F3 and three lenses.
    Fast forward a few:wink: years and I still have the F3 but I also have some Hasselblad gear which gets much more use.

    That said, my recommendation would be to try both out, and see what fits you the best. There are around 50 years worth of lenses available, the older ones can be obtained cheaply, and the glass is still great.

    Worst case, working for a while with "just" an 80 is not so bad, and some find the "one lens" thing to be liberating.

    Alternatively, if you want to really embrace "one lens" consider a TLR, light weight, compact, simple, they are what WLF square format cameras are all about.
     
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  15. Trask

    Trask Subscriber

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    I have both: 500c/m and an SQ-A (not i). What you suggest was exactly my experience in terms of cost: I have one 500c/m with the 80 Planar and a couple of backs, and the SQ-A with 50, 65, 80 and 150 and a couple of backs and winder/grip, and I bet the Bronica stuff cost only a bit more than the Hassy and lens alone. Re: holding the cameras, while I do think the Hassy is a bit nicer to hold if you have just the camera, I can say that I really like using the manual winder/side grip on the Bronica. Very quick and smooth film advance, trigger shutter button, and when I'm not shooting I can easier hold the camera hanging in one hand at my side. Note I've not said anything about image, as I don't feel I've shot enough with either to say one is better than the other.
     
  16. Luseboy

    Luseboy Member

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    Well I recently went through the same (almost) dilemna. I had a really nice 35mm (alpa) that I wanted to trade for a 6x6. I orignally thought I'd hold out for a hassy, but when I was offered a Bronica s2a, I couldn't resist. I decided that the s2a is a better camera for me. Yes the hassy is a beautiful camera, and no doubt one of the best out there. But I was able to get 4 lenses, tons of film, and other stuff with it as a straight trade for my alpa and 2 lenses. The hassy would have been more like one slightly beat up body and a lens or two. Having extra lenses is really important to me, I do everything with this camera, Landscapes, Portraits, lots of stuff. It's a great camera, and if I had gotten a hassy, it would have just gotten in the way; I would have been too caught up with taking care of it than taking pictures. A hassy would be a great studio-only camera in my opinion, but for me, I would be too scared to take it out into the field too much, they're just worth way too much money. It's kind of like driving a ferrari, you don't want to drive the thing fast for fear of having a rock chip your paint or something. That's why you always see the guys in honda civics driving fastest and craziest, they aren't worried about messing anything up. For me it just made sense to have the less-expensive camera with some more accesories. Also, there really isn't going to be much difference in the final image, you might notice a bit more sharpness from the hassy if it's like a mural sized print, but I don't think it's going to make any difference in smaller prints. My vote would be bronica.
     
  17. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    That's what I do. I have a Rolleicord which means that I don't use the RB67 with the 90mm lens very often. It's good with a 50 or 180 though.


    Steve.
     
  18. thegman

    thegman Member

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    If you love gear, then maybe it's worth saving for the 'blad, but if you're more into just taking photos and gear is not that important, the Bronica is more than enough for any of us, I'd have thought.
     
  19. ArtTwisted

    ArtTwisted Member

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    If you cant live with a bronica, get a Hassy, if you dont care about brand , get the Bronica. Spend the difference on the extra lens, or a couple bricks of film. Worse case if you hate the Bronica you can sell it at little loss (or no loss) and buy the Hassy from there.
     
  20. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Subscriber

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    Then you should get one! I had wanted a Gretsch guitar for many years but couldn't really justify the expense. When I joined a rockabilly band five years ago, I realised that if I didn't get one when I had the perfect excuse (I mean reason) then I would never get one. I certainly didn't need it as I had a suitable guitar already but that's not always the point.

    To relate this to cameras, if you have an idea that you want/need a Hasselblad, however illogical, the best thing to do would be to get one and try it. If it works out, that's great. If not it can always be sold for no or little loss. On the other hand, if you buy something like the Bronica but still long for the Hasselblad, you will never be satisfied even if the camera is perfectly good for your use.

    It all comes down to being happy with the equipment in the way it handles, looks and the way it makes you feel. With few exceptions, most photographers have cameras which are better than their owners need them to be in the same way as my Gretsch is better than my needs/abilities. The Aria guitar I already had was perfectly capable but not what I wanted.


    Steve.
     
  21. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    I have both systems, but while the Hasselblad feels and looks like such a quality camera, I find that I shoot the Bronica more often. The Bronica has the manual speed grip for winding that is very convenient. Both have waist level finders but the Bronica is brighter and easier to focus in bright light than my Hasselblad. If I could only have one system, it would be a tough choice, but I would probably keep the Bronica.

    Dave
     
  22. film_man

    film_man Member

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    That's interesting, which focus screen do you have for the Hasselblad? I found the Bronica stock screen quite tricky to focus on the WLF, I found it quite dim and the split circle was very tricky to see properly if you weren't standing exactly above it. I have the new type Acute Matte Hasselblad screen and find it so much brighter and easier to focus at all situations.
     
  23. CGW

    CGW Member

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    No problems with my Bronica SQ-B+WLF with that screen which I also find quite bright with a 45 degree prism, as well as the WLF. Nothing tricky at all with the split image circle.
     
  24. Dave in Kansas

    Dave in Kansas Member

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    My Hasselblad has a split image screen, but it is an early 500 c/m. I've heard that some of the newer ones are brighter. My Bronica has a grid screen, with no split image. I just find it easier to focus.

    Dave
     
  25. Chris Harvey

    Chris Harvey Member

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    Folks, what can I say! Thanks so much for your comments and advice. This has really helped me make my mind up, i shall be going down the Bronica route. I'm not fussed about presige and although as i said this in not going to be my main workhorse it is going the get well used.

    Steve, i like your comment about a Twin Lens, i think i mught put that down on a sub list.

    Thanks again folks

    Chris
     
  26. stillsilver

    stillsilver Member

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    Steve, i like your comment about a Twin Lens, i think i mught put that down on a sub list.

    And the GAS begins.

    Mike