Working the Bronica ETR like it's 1982

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by filmamigo, Jul 15, 2010.

  1. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    I have a great Bronica kit that I would like to press into service for portraits and events. To date I have done these kind of shoots d*g*tally or with newer Nikon TTL gear when I shoot flash; otherwise it's just natural light. I would like to use the Bronica kit for more than just natural light, but am having a hard time assessing what I really need to do to make this work. Manual or "auto" flash is not something I have spent a lot of time with.

    Here is my kit:

    • Bronica ETRSi
    • AE prism
    • Rotary finder
    • Speed grip E
    • Lenses from 40mm to 250mm
    • 3 backs (120)
    • 2 Metz 45 CT-1 flashes

    Seems like everything I need -- I'm only missing some mentorship. Most working photogs seem to have moved on from this capable setup. So I turn to the collective wisdom of APUG.

    First question: How many loaded backs do you really need, to cover a portrait session, or even a wedding? Is an assistant going to be mandatory, to keep loading those backs? Or can you comfortably carry enough backs, reload them during quiet moments, and actually keep up?

    Second question: How many rolls of 120 film would you take and/or shoot at a portrait session? or a wedding?

    Third question(s): Daylight fill flash. The Bronica AE instructions suggests to only use manual exposure with a flash, otherwise exposure errors can occur. That's OK with me, I often prefer a handheld ambient light meter, and that means I could use the unmetered rotary finder and not feel like I was missing out. It just seemed odd, and something I wanted to confirm. I suppose I could use the AE finder, in manual mode, and dial in the exposure. But that actually seems riskier/more work than simply using an ambient light meter.

    So, moving on to the Metz flash. The instructions suggest, when doing daylight fill flash, setting the flash control to an aperture one stop larger than that metered for ambient exposure. So taking that into account, would this process make sense?

    1. Take ambient reading (i.e. f/8 at 125)
    2. Set Metz to f/5.6
    3. Set lens aperture to f/8
    4. Set shutter speed to 250 (to give additional contrast between foreground and darker background) OR
    5. Set shutter speed to 60 (to enhance contrast between a dark subject and a light background)

    Fourth question: Backups. I have a backup ETR body, finder, winder, and lots of lenses. Would you advise carrying that much backup? Or would you typically pack a more unassuming backup (like a Rolleiflex)?

    I look forward to any perspective folks can share.

    Dave
     
  2. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Evening, Dave,

    You're basically on the right track. Your shutter speed/aperture combination provides the basic exposure; the flash is just to provide a little fill for the shadows and/or to reduce the contrast. I've very successfully used the approach you outline with Vivitar 285 flash units set on auto in similar fashion. Remember that if you change shutter speed as indicated in #3 and #4, a change in aperture will also be needed to maintain the proper overall exposure. The aperture change will then require a change in the auto setting on your flash unit. You'll probably have to do a little experimenting to fine-tune your approach. It's usually better to favor a little less flash fill rather than too much.

    Konical
     
  3. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    You don't have to have more backs. You can preload extra inserts and just switch those. Cheaper and less bulky. I put mine in a small bag to keep out dust, but I'm not in a studio environment. I have one insert case, which is very nice, but they are hard to find.
     
  4. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    Changing the shutter speed to one a stop faster will lead to underexposed flash (because of the aperture you set it to) and underexposed ambient.
    How will that increase contrast between flash lit foreground and sun lit background?

    Setting an one stop slower shutter speed will lighten the bit you also fill in with (set to underexpose) flash and light background equally. The effect of flash (now 2 stops below the non-flash exposure) will just about disappear, and you end up with about the same picture you would have gotten when just overexposing by 1 stop and not use flash fill.
    (Unless there is absolutely no ambient light reaching the bits the flash will fill in. Then you will have those bits underexposed by the 1 stop you have set.)

    Just set the shutter speed to what the meter says it should be for your ambient light exposure.
     
  5. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I have also done this with a Vivitar 285 on both an ETRS and an RB67.

    The 285 allows for manual setting but my method is to set the camera for correct ambient exposure (as you are suggesting) then use one of the 285's auto colour modes set to give one or two stops less exposure than would be needed to correctly expose with just flash (but you knew that bit).

    I set the flash compensation by setting the dial to a faster film speed. i.e. with ISO 100 film, set the dial to 200 or 400 for one or two stops below respectively. The dial doesn't actually affect anything but does tell you which setting to use.

    The advantage with using the auto setting is that it adjusts itself with changes of distance and also compensates for the light loss from using a reflector which I would also advise.

    Although I do have one of those Metz flashes, I can't remember what functions they have. I think they do have an auto function and there are some models which can connect to the ETRS via an adaptor to give some additional exposure intelligence.


    Steve.
     
  6. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    Thanks for the good input everyone. I had a family event this weekend and shot it with the Bronnie -- but I opted to stay low-profile and shot it with a stripped body, WLF and no flash. Available light only.

    To get some practise with fill flash, I will drag some friends out for some portraits.

    I am still curious to know -- how many rolls of film you would plan on carrying to shoot a portrait session (or even a wedding)?
     
  7. spolly74

    spolly74 Member

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    Brilliant! I never thought of that.
     
  8. TSSPro

    TSSPro Member

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    I have been able to find the insert cases that have loops for a belt to go through on tha'bay for about $16US. They're neat things to have around and less stuff to haul around for sure. For a wedding or long event where you would need to be there for hours on end, expect to shoot a lot, and then some more on top of that. Because the last thing that you would want to happen is to run out of film. Granted, it will not be nearly as much as if you were using a digital rig. The process is slower and more concerted when selecting your images. I find it easy to shoot a brick of film (20 rolls) in either 35mm or 120 for an average wedding.

    Portrait sessions have changed a lot since when the ETRS was introduced. A lot less studio and a lot more fly on the wall, day in the life, editorialized, journalistic, stylized images... It can be shooting for a whole afternoon if you are going to three locations and hauling everything all over town. I think of it this way, atleast one roll per pose or scene with your subject being relaxed and you feel that you are getting good images. If that becomes a problem, shoot the first dozen frames without a roll of film in the camera (dont let the subj know that) just so that your subj or model gets relaxed.

    At an event or wedding reception I use flashes like the vivitars that have the thyristors in them. Compensate either by changing the film speed, or changing your camera's aperture by 2stops. A 30th at 8 iso 400, flash set at 5.6 is normally where I am once you get indoors and in dim light.


    I hope some of that helps.
     
  9. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    It does help, thank you.
     
  10. jernejk

    jernejk Member

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    If you don't have any flash experience, I recommend using your d***l for learning. You can also use it on the field to check your light (think of it as a Polaroid precheck). And absolutely take the flash off camera! See this: http://strobist.blogspot.com/2006/03/lighting-101.html
     
  11. filmamigo

    filmamigo Member

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    The trigger voltage on those Metz CT-1s is very high, so I haven't paired them up with a DSLR to practise. Of course, I could use my new wireless triggers to connect the Metz and the DSLRs without worrying about the voltage.

    I wonder how Cactus triggers like 500v?
     
  12. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Many of the less expensive imported triggers include a recommendation that they be used with a trigger voltage of 12v or lower.

    It is usually hidden in the specifications, and in awkward English.
     
  13. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I have just opened up my Cactus receiver to take a look at the component used to fire the flash. It's a MCR 100-6 silicon controlled rectifier (or thyristor) and is rated at 400 volts and 0.8A according to the datasheet: http://www.hsin.com.sg/products/datasheets/MCR100-6,8.pdf

    Note: The data sheet states this is a minimum and is tested up to 1010 volts.

    I suspect that most modern cameras use a similar device and it is my personal opinion that all the scare stories we hear about not putting old flashes on modern cameras is mythology invented to help sales of new equipment.


    Steve.
     
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  15. MattKing

    MattKing Subscriber

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    Steve:

    It may be that the most recent cameras are being engineered to avoid the problem.

    I had a conversation a few (3 or 4?) years ago with a camera repair technician who indicated that they were seeing a lot of work because of the incompatibility between trigger voltages on older flashes and the circuitry in digital and newer film cameras.
     
  16. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Quite a common suggestion with Canon cameras is that the X sync socket is o.k with high voltages but the hot shoe is not. In reality this is nonesense as they are probably wired in parallel or at least have identical circuitry.

    I think the main worry with high voltage flashes on newer cameras is the possibility of sliding a fully charged flash into the hot shoe and having the centre contact momentarily touch one of the other control/TTL pins and causing some damage there rather than the actual trigger circuit.

    Quite possibly. It should have been the case that they were engineered like that from the start so that there never was a problem as it is very easy to do.

    I had a brief dabble in that other imaging technology in 2003 with a Nikon D100 and that was certainly o.k. up to 250 volts. If a camera uses an SCR circuit to trigger the flash (which is the most logical method) it would be very difficult to find one rated at less than 250 volts - more likely 400 volts as a minimum.


    Steve.
     
  17. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    Damn straight!
     
  18. Cheryl Jacobs

    Cheryl Jacobs Member

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    Just thought I'd mention that I shoot almost 100% of my sessions / jobs with a Bronica ETRS, 75mm 2.8 lens, 120 back, and a handheld light meter. And that's it. No fill flash, almost never change lenses, no winders, no gizmos, no reflectors or other modifiers, nada. Oh, and a roll of Scotch tape. lol.

    You only need what you need. Some people need more gear to suit their chosen methods than others; as long as it works for you, you're fine.

    - CJ
     
  19. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Last time I took my ETRS out, I took off all of the 'superfluous' bits like the hand grip winder and the prism and just took out the body, 50mm lens and waist level finder. In this form it was a much nicer and easier piece of equipment to take out on a long walk - which is where/how I do most of my photography.


    Steve.
     
  20. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Early Canon EOS cameras were indeed very, very vulnerable to trigger voltages above 6v. It was NOT until Canon came out with the 350D and 20D that they raised the trigger voltages to 250v. Not a myth, a very real issue for Canon cameras for about 20 years!!! Same issue for other brands of SLRs, which also switched from mechanical contacts for flash synch to electronic circuits for flash triggering.
     
  21. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Possibly - but still something which should never have happened. If I was a camera designer there would be no way that I would consider designing a camera which was not compatible with existing flash equipment.

    I will accept then that there were some cameras made with such incompetent design that a standard flash currently available could damage them but it really is inexcusable as it only take a £0.03/$0.02 component to trigger a flash with up to 400v trigger voltage.

    I still think it was a design issue forced by marketing to increase sales.


    Steve.
     
  22. wiltw

    wiltw Subscriber

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    Canon was not alone in this issue. Even the ISO specification is only up to 24V !!!

    From Botzilla...http://www.botzilla.com/photo/strobeVolts.html

    "Cameras
    "Canon US has verified (to me, and here) that the Powershot G doesn't like voltages over 6V.

    "Similarly, Nikon has specified 12V for their speedlight circuits... (though reader Steve Francesoni called Nikon.uk to check, and their tech rep said that his N80 was good to 250V — so there may be more complexity to this story). I've heard some rumours that some Coolpix models have been restricted to 5V! (see below for more details)

    "Marco Fortin-Metzgen checked with Olympus Europe on his C4040 — that digicam has a trigger voltage of 10V, so Olympus too recommends strobe triggering in the 3V to 6V range.

    "Pentax users may want to read this related story from Gene Poon.

    "Ron Alexander claims his Fuji is astonishingly tolerant of high voltages... interesting (This has since been verified by Rob Scrimgeour of the FujiGroup.net forum — their members got a message from Fuji also stating the 400V center pin limit).

    "(According to some opinions, high voltages can even endanger mechanical cameras, albeit after years of use)

    "The ISO 10330 specification ("Photography -- Synchronizers, ignition circuits and connectors for cameras and photoflash units -- Electrical characteristics and test methods," 1992) says that all ISO-compliant cameras should be able to accept trigger voltages up to 24V. Though a Canon engineer is the nominal head of the ISO workgroup, for some reason Canon continues to insist that their cameras tolerate no more than 6V (make that Canon USA — an email from Canon Canada says: "There is not a maximum voltage requirement for the hot shoe terminal on the PowerShot G1." Go fig!). For that reason I've tagged strobes that trigger at voltages between 6V and 24V as "your call." Depending upon who you ask — the camera or strobe manufacturers — those strobes are acceptable or they are not.

    "The ISO spec doesn't really seem to hold a lot of weight!"
     
  23. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    I agree with Steve.
    I think we should keep in mind that it is an industry, making these thingies to sell.
    Allow people to keep on using their old stuff, and you cheat yourself out of sales.
    So it makes more sense to produce new cameras that need also new flash units than new cameras that can use the old stuff.
     
  24. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    I think the more likely scenario is that they make the new equipment so it will work with the older high voltage flashes but they tell everyone that they are not compatible using scare tactics to sell newer flashes.

    That way they get the best of both worlds - more sales but a robust camera that will not be sent in for repair if someone does use an old flash on it.


    Steve.
     
  25. Q.G.

    Q.G. Inactive

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    I don't know...
    Burn a camera by using an old flash, and you have to get a new camera and a new flash. Even more sales...
     
  26. Steve Smith

    Steve Smith Member

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    Good point!!


    Steve.