Medium Format SLR: Bronica or Pentacon?

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by eubielicious, Jun 1, 2006.

  1. eubielicious

    eubielicious Member

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    Hi all,

    Having bought a 4x5 camera and sold my Rolleicord (as well as a Zeiss Ikon folder), I now find myself wishing for something a bit more portable on a day-to-day basis.

    I don't want to go back to 35mm, and don't want to spend a lot of money either (with a wedding and house move coming up, I need to be tight), so have been looking at Bronica ETRS systems and Pentacon SLR's on ebay.

    I'd love to know if anyone has any thoughts on either of these...

    Euan
     
  2. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    Bronica ETRSI from KEH not Ebay.

    1) Prices will be cheaper then Ebay usually. Plus a warranty

    2) All the features you can want.


    The Pentacon will give you 6x6.

    OTOH the Bronica will give you swapable backs. TTL flash and normal metering if you want. Leaf shutters. Winder. Or you can go just basic with a WLF and crank.
     
  3. BBonte

    BBonte Member

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    I used to have 2 Pentacon six bodies but was rather disappointed at the end. Many problems like film counters breaking down, focusing screens misalignement.. and sold them. Now I am very happy with my Bronica EC TL with 80mm and a few backs. Fantastic camera: light meter in the body .. but rather heavy (2kg). Although I did get fantastic pictures with my Pentacon.
     
  4. Neil Souch

    Neil Souch Subscriber

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    [QUOTE I don't want to go back to 35mm, and don't want to spend a lot of money either (with a wedding and house move coming up, I need to be tight), so have been looking at Bronica ETRS systems and Pentacon SLR's on ebay.

    I'd love to know if anyone has any thoughts on either of these...

    Euan[/QUOTE]

    Hi Euan,
    I have used both of these sysyems and TBH I would go for the Bronica any day. The ETRS system is extensive and on the SH market they are a real bargain at the moment as people and pros unload them to go DI. If funds are tight buy the slightly older lenses and look for an ETRS rather than a ETRSi. The Pentacon is OK and capable of excellent restults but the film transport system can cause problems (overlapping frames etc). The build quality is not as good as Bronica but the lenses are as good. If you go for the ETRS try to find cherished amateur equipment rather than stuff that has been thrashed at weddings etc by pros.

    I hope this helps?

    Neil.
     
  5. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I'd also recommend the Bronica. I use an S2a and used to own a Pentacon. Some of the lenses for the Pentacon were nice, but the body is notorious for film advance problems.
     
  6. Ole

    Ole Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Euan, are you going to Mobberley?

    I'm bringing my trusty old ETRS over, so you can have a look at it there.
     
  7. eubielicious

    eubielicious Member

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    Thanks Ole,

    Yes, I'll be there and am looking forward to it.

    Euan
     
  8. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Unless the Pentacon is virtually free, go for the Bronica.

    I have a Pentacon 6 TL...

    Cheers,

    Roger
     
  9. poutnik

    poutnik Member

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    Euan,

    skip the Pentacon (unless it's for free or almost), I've had it for some time and it's unreliable as hell, particularly with the film advance. But if you like it, you could also try the Arax overhaul of Pentacon (www.araxfoto.com). Some users here are rather content, I myself haven't tried... The lenses for this system are usualy cheap and good...

    Jiri
     
  10. Andre R. de Avillez

    Andre R. de Avillez Member

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    Euan,

    I used a Pentacon for a while. It had a broken film counter when I got it, and it got 10 pictures per roll. I used it quite a bit, put it through rather extreme environments, and the shutter froze.

    I got the pentacon for the price, and (keeping in mind that it broke) I think it was an ok buy. I really liked the Biometar I had.

    Now I use a Bronica S, and although I liked the P6, the Bronica puts it to shame. The focusing screen is brighter and bigger, and the 75mm Nikkor lens is A LOT sharper than my Biometar was. Having a few backs (with correct spacing and functioning counters, by the way) is a huge improvement as well, and I never felt that I needed them with the pentacon. Its just that going from one roll to the other while shooting is much quicker.

    If I were in your place, and my budget allowed, I'd go with a Bronica S or S2, or S2a.

    BTW, I use a waist level finder, not a prism. I did have a prism for the P6, but found it too dark. I prefer waist level finders anyway, though.

    hope this helps,

    André

    P.S. look at my website for photos taken with the Pentacon (Sertão '04) and Bronica (Japan '06)
     
  11. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    The S2a is much preferred of those three because the gears in it are made of bronze instead of plastic and are much more reliable and robust.
     
  12. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Sort of. The S2a has steel gearing, and the earlier models have brass gearing.
     
  13. simulatordan

    simulatordan Member

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    Hello Euan,

    I've got a Bronica SQ with Waist Level Finder, hand crank, and standard PS 80mm lens. Nothing fancy but I enjoy using it. I do a lot of 35mm with a Pentax ME super, so I'm not worried about bells and whistles. In its simple form I find the Bronica slows me down and makes me think about what I want; Its also quite light to carry around even with a tripod. The Broni looks a good bet to me. ( mine cost £200 including 2 backs )

    Regards Daniel
     
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  15. glbeas

    glbeas Member

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    Right, I knew it was something along those line. I've never seen one of those mythical creatures so I had to draw on fading memory of web info I've encountered. Kinda funny it took them so long to get it right.
     
  16. sanking

    sanking Member

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    I have owned a number of medium format SLRs, including Bronica S, S2 and S2A, Pentacon 6, and several Kievs, including the Kiev 66 and the Kiev 88 CM.

    My personal opinion is that the Kiev 88 CM is the best of these cameras, plus there are lots of very good inexpensive lenses out there for it. At the same price I would take an 88 CM over a Bronica S2A any day, both because of the wide range of inexpensive lenses and the modern TTL prism. And age. Bronica S2As go back to the early 70s, and many were used professionally and have a lot of wear internally, even if they don't show it outside.

    But, to be fair, the Nikkor lenses for the Bronica were really excellent, certaily on a par with the better Zeiss lenses you can buy for the Kiev 88 CM.

    Whatever you decide, it is hard to lose at today's prices for this equipment since some of it is dirt cheap, especially the Kiev stuff, so with the big negative and quality you can get a lot of bang for the buck.

    BTW, just for clarification, the Kiev 88 CM is the most modern version of the Kiev 88. In contrast to earlier Kiev 88 cameras, it has a cloth focal plane shutter and a lens mount that takes Pentacon 6 type lenses, including lots of great Zeiss optics. It is a much superior camera to older Kiev 88s.

    Sandy
     
  17. Sandeep

    Sandeep Member

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    The Pentacon might give you more than you bargained for - lots of repair bills. Stick with Bronica for a safer choice. Why not the SQA.
     
  18. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    I'll second that. The SQA(-i) is a great camera. I had one with which I parted due to stupidity.
    Cheers, Søren
     
  19. ricksplace

    ricksplace Member

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    Never had a Bronica. I have used a Pentacon 6tl for about ten years and have had NO trouble with it whatsoever. (Oops, shouldn't have said that -now it will probably self-destruct) Load the film properly and there won't be any film transport problems. It's a little quirky, and won't take abuse, but there are lots of wonderful CHEAP lenses for it.

    Rick.
     
  20. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    If you get an older camera, whether Pentacon 6, Bronica S2/S2A or even a Hassy, you should bank on getting a CLA. Maybe with a more modern Bronica SQ-A/B it isn't so necessary.

    I had a full CLA on my P6, including a new brighter focusing screen with microprism collar from a Kiev 6 and a film wind indicator (a precautionary measure since I had not had any frame spacing problems). According to the guy that did the CLA, many frame spacing problems are through incorrect film loading, but he did also say that some film brands are more prone to cause problems than others.

    The big advantage of a Pentacon 6 is the large range of affordable lenses (especially wides) and other accessories. This was the main reason for me going with the Pentacon as opposed to the Bronica.
     
  21. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    In today's market the difference between Bronica ETR lenses and P6 lenses is very small. Some times the Bronica lenses are even cheaper.
     
  22. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    Lenses for the S2a system are also quite cheap. I don't know that they are more or less than Pentacon lenses at the moment. Same goes for backs and other accessories.

    When I bought my Pentacon in Poland in the late 1980s, I got a system with four lenses for about $135, which was approximately 4 months average salary in most East Bloc countries and China at the time. When I came home I traded it for $500 in credit toward a Norman lighting setup, which was about what you could get for a Pentacon system at the time in the U.S. Most of the New York dealers I showed it to at the time didn't know what to offer for it, but they knew that the 50/4 Flektagon was something interesting.
     
  23. Nick Zentena

    Nick Zentena Member

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    It the little things or the rare things that are expensive for the ETR now. Things like rear lens caps. It's almost cheaper to buy a lens with caps then just the cap :rolleyes: Or the 135 wide back.
     
  24. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Lenses for almost all medium format SLRs are quite cheap these days. I just purchased a new Pentax 67II and, although the camera itself caught quite a bit of change, I have been very pleasantly surprirsed to see how inexpensive lenses (or at least many of them) are for this camera. For less than $500 I managed to pick up 55mm, 165mm, 200mm and 300mm lenses for this camera, all in EX condition (except the 55mm).

    Sandy
     
  25. Soeren

    Soeren Member

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    Con gratulations with your new camera Sandy
    A 165 and a 200 mm. I'm thinking about one of those (mostly the 165mm) but have some trouble deciding so an update on perfomance and usability would be nice.
    Cheers, Søren
     
  26. sanking

    sanking Member

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    OK, I am taking this camera system with me on a trip of about 1.5 months to the western part of the US, and to Alberta and BC in Canada and will try to provide a report on system analysis.

    System testing of resolution of the Pentax 6711 may prove complicated because of the issue of vibrations introduced by mirror slap and shutter release. I did some preliminary comparison of the Pentax 6711 with my Fuji GW690III at slow speeds, on a very stury tripod, and the Fuji really had it all over the Pentax 6711 at speeds of less than 1/30 second.

    Sandy