My stolen Bronica SQ-Ai and where to turn next...

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by jamesgignac, Jan 30, 2009.

  1. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    So, my Bronica SQ-Ai was grabbed off a table in a club during a photo shoot I was doing last night...it's a long story and now I need some ideas about where to turn next...I almost don't want to go back out and buy another SQ-Ai system (though I loved mine like a wonderfully talented nephew) only because I spent so much time buying up parts to build the SQ-Ai of my dreams only to have it swiped after having the completed masterpiece for a little over a month.

    I've been considering going the way of Mamiya...I don't know very much about them though. One of the key features for me with my SQ-Ai was the motor grip which I cherished as I liked to take many shots in quick succession without having to fumble with winding and losing my angle. I've noticed that the RZ-67 has a motor winder but I was wondering if anyone could tell me how decent it is. I noticed it's rated at 1.5 seconds/frame while the sq-i motor grip was 0.8sec/frame...this isn't so important to me but I'd like to know if the motor winder on the Mamiya cameras is relatively loud...I found it difficult to use the Bronica in quiet situations as the motor winder was certainly very audible.

    The 6x7 format would be nice I suppose...to be honest I feel like I have to start from scratch again - I'm considering all options...price isn't a big issue because I want to do it right and this time I'll keep the damn thing on me at all times. I'd even consider H'Blad, but I have barely even started looking into that option.

    I don't know...I'm using camera research for cathartic purposes right now...still a little stunned at the loss of the Bronica.

    I'm only interested in talking about medium format at the moment - I plan to get myself into lf soon but still want an mf for my everyday event shooting. Any recommendations or links to information would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks to you all.
     
  2. MikeSeb

    MikeSeb Member

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    The motor winder on the RZ sounds like a coffee grinder. The RZ itself is a ginormous beast of a camera, and heavy. But a great camera.

    You might think about a Mamiya 7 if you like 6x7 and if you don't need tight-headshot capability. Another problem for you might be that the lenses are slow---didn't you say in your other thread that you shoot a lot of musicians in (dim?) clubs? To the good, the M7 is whisper quiet and lightweight, and the lenses are exceptionally good.

    Sorry about your camera getting stolen. Now that's personal!
     
  3. Peter Black

    Peter Black Subscriber

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    So how were the results from the Bronny? Did the camera feel right in your hands? Did it feel awkward to use, maybe something about it that bugged you? I'm thinking you originally chose it for a reason and it either matched up or it didn't, so that would be the determining factor for me. The very fact that you're considering a different camera after only a month or so, well maybe it's time to kick back and try out something else before you buy again?
     
  4. PhotoJim

    PhotoJim Member

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    Unless you lost *all* of your system, it only makes sense to go with Bronica again.

    Not only that, but you know how to use it. Knowing the ins and outs of your gear is useful and important.

    Hopefully your camera turns up. Make sure, if you didn't already, to report the loss to the police. Pawn shops and law enforcement will check serial numbers.
     
  5. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    PhotoJim - I still had a lens, two additional backs, and my SCA 386 flash module (which arrived in the mail a day after the camera was 'lifted'.) Initially I was thinking about picking up something different and my main motivator was just curiosity. Since thinking it over and reading Peter Black's post I've realized that it did feel 'right' and I'm probably going to get another.

    At least this time I can do it right and avoid picking up pieces that I didn't really care for (the 80mm lens in my opinion is not really good for anything...it's not wide enough for crowd shots and not long enough for close-ups - I'll keep using my 150mm for that.) So instead of the 80mm (and the 50mm I had planned to buy soon) I'm thinking of getting the 50-100mm zoom to replace them both. Lens speed is not a gigantic issue for me with this camera as I'm buying a metz 45 ct-4 and will flash the hell out of those scenes anyway.

    Initially I was thinking I'd go for something very 'automatic' for certain work (like a pentax 645) and then maybe an rb67 when I want the additional quality and can afford the fiddling time to get things right with my shots. The Pentax would have been more or less a point-and-shoot for noisy, crowded, obnoxious music performance work, it seems I know a bizarre mix of musicians - half of the work I do is done in nicely lit coffee houses shooting calm, lovely, low-action folk musicians while the other half is done in completely packed bars and clubs where there is almost no light (besides lasers, etc.) and the action is fast and almost impossible to capture if you have to do a lot of 'prep' to line up your photos.

    So, moral of the story: I want my Bronica back. I'm not going to pick up the motor winder yet though...I might even hold off on that altogether and just pick up that Pentax 645 when I need speedy shots (2fps on their winder!)

    Thanks for all of the help gentlemen.
     
  6. Edwardv

    Edwardv Member

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  7. yurihuta

    yurihuta Member

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    Sorry to hear of your troubles. I used to have a Bronica SQAi system (2 bodies, four lenses etc.) and also a Pentax 645 with the 75mm. For my style of shooting, I gravitated towards the Pentax 645 more, replaced this with a pair of Pentax 645N bodies and a mix of lenses and sold off the Bronica gear (somewhat reluctantly as it is such nice quality). I also picked up a Pentax 6x7 and lens, but sold that off (for studio strobes). Anyhow, the 645N has a nice metering system (dual six zone - which does quite nicely outdoors and indoor natural light), eclipsing what the SQAi has with the AE-i finder. I have not used much flash other than studio strobes with a Minolta flash meter, so not sure how it works with TTL flash metering.

    For music venues, the Pentax lenses might interest you in that they have a beautiful FA 150mm f/2.8 (and older 150mm f/3.5 manual focus which has a great reputation as well). I have a manual focus lens and the 645N bodies will give you focus confirmation with these (in addition to the autofocus lenses, should you manually focus them). I don't miss the interchangeable film backs, I just shoot when the roll is complete.

    If I had the money, I might be tempted to get a SQAi system again - I had the motor too. This is especially nice with the shutters in the lenses for flash work outdoors.
     
  8. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

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    I can't recommend a camera for you, but I'd just like to say I'm really disappointed on your behalf about your camera. That blows!

    I hope you can find medium format nirvana again.

    - Thomas
     
  9. vdonovan

    vdonovan Subscriber

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    Bring back my Bronnie to me! I'd be heartbroken too if mine was stolen. And you just know the jackass who took it doesn't know the first thing about medium format.

    If I lost ALL my Bronnie gear, I would probably go Mamiya RB67. I like the rotating back and that Mamiya is still in business. I might even go Hassy, since there are some good deals out there.

    But if I just lost a body and one lens, I would surf over to KEH.com and buy another SQ-Ai body for $90 bucks and get on with my life.
     
  10. jamesgignac

    jamesgignac Member

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    Thanks for all of your comments everyone! yurihuta, I appreciate the recommendation for the pentax 645...I've definitely been considering one for some time now and after I replace my Bron it'll probably be something I'll look into. My Bronica will still be my first choice for more thoughtful shooting and I don't plan to buy another winder for it so it'll become more of a tripod mount, planned execution type of setup for me. I'd really love the pentax for the more energetic music events I shoot - I've typically only been able to bring one other lens with me with the bronica as well as one other back and the ME prism tucked in my bag for light measurements...anything else and it becomes a real difficulty to haul around for the sometimes 4+ hours that these event go for - the pentax would be a godsend in these situations.

    Thanks again to all and be assured that I'm not so devastated that I'm throwing in the towel, I'm fighting back hard and recommitting myself 100% to my serious love of all things film.

    Note: Before my camera was 'lifted' I had been putting aside some cash to pick up another camera - I was thinking of getting a nice 6x9 folder for more everyday 'out and about' shooting as well as potentially looking into picking up a Crown Graphic (because I think it would be crazily joyful to use), so I thankfully have the money to spare to begin setting myself up again. This time I'm going to be a bit more prudent and look into getting a fitted, locking hardcase with it. I hate to be the paranoid type but I'm keeping my guard up from now on - this was the first time I had ever had anything stolen from me and the fact that it was my central joy and most treasured item made it really hit home.
     
  11. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    My Pentax 645N with the 35mm f/3.5 has in the last 9 mos become my new favorite walking around camera-- for scenics, that is. This despite owning everything from a small 35mm system camera (Pentax LX) to a couple of Nikon F5s and even a 4x5 field camera as well as a couple of digital bodies. The 645N matrix metering is among the best of any camera, ever. The FTZ 500AF off-the-film plane TTL metering electronic flashes are quite good, though they don't quite have the versatility or rapid recycling of the F5/SB-800 combo (and the pokey 1/60 shutter sync speed renders outdoor flash pretty useless with modern ISO 160 or 100 films). Don't own a P645 leaf shutter lens simply because these don't enable TTL fill-flash.

    Having shot performances in venues like you describe, however, I'd have to say that medium format would be pretty far down the list of format choices, for me. Sticking strictly with film (though for such PJ work, most won't be shooting film these days for the low-light ISO improvements, the traditional argument in favor of medium format at high ISOs in enlargements versus 35mm at high ISOs, effectively no longer exists. ), MF loses out here to modern 35mm gear for several additional reasons. First is that unless the performer is seated in a chair or standing in one spot, it's going to be challenging to nail focus, not to mention freezing decisive moments with medium format SLR gear, mostly because of the long lag after pressing the shutter release. (IOW, when the mirror is swinging up out of the way. With my P645N this lag is along the lines of 1/4s or 250 milliseconds whereas my F5 is less than 1/20s --42 ms, if memory serves). Too, AF in 35 is more sophisticated and the lenses faster. And many 35mm systems have simple wireless slaving options, some even TTL like the F5.

    Not that you can't make 2-1/4 or 645 film work in this situation, e.g. scale focusing and blast everything with 400 watt-seconds of lighting-- whenever possible. Keep in mind though that many if not the majority of performance venues have prohibitions against flash.
     
  12. picker77

    picker77 Subscriber

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    Sorry to hear about the loss, that is a true downer... For a replacement, you might try to get an SQ-Am in your hands for a few minutes. I love the feel and the way mine handles, the motor drive is great, and 6 AA's are available anywhere in a pinch. I use rechargeable Ni-MH batteries in my SQ-Am motor drive and they seem to run forever before needing charging. Good luck and you definitely have my sympathies.
    Jerry
     
  13. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    If you love how dSLRs and 'automagic' film cameras, you'd love the Pentax 645.

    My first gripe about that camera is when used with long lenses...the grip is permanently afixed at the BACK edge of the body, putting all of the weight forward of that point, rather than using some of the body to serve as a counterbalance to lenses.

    My second gripe about the Pentax is that it is fairly limited in its exposure automation when using leaf shutter lenses for increased flash versatility, particularly relative to all of the AE automation and flash automation that the Bronicas have with TTL off-the-film metering using the SCA system and AE metering prism.