Zenza Bronica

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Pumalite, Feb 24, 2011.

  1. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    Anybody with experience with this camera?
    I saw it on sale on a forum. It has a Nikkor-P as a normal lens. They vaguely say that there are 2 other lenses that are Vivitar. It seems to be an S2. What are the differences in the models? Thanks.
     
  2. henryp

    henryp Member

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  3. CGW

    CGW Member

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    Despite being heavy, noisy, and old, they're a nice 6x6 camera whose Nikkor lenses are first-rate(Bronica and Komura lenses less so). I have a well-used hi-mileage S I bought cheap and used happily for a couple of years. It's film advance/mirror/shutter train finally failed--a common problem thanks to soft brass gears--and I shelved and replaced it with a Bronica SQ-B. Frankly, I'd take a pass on it unless it's very affordable. Parts and repair service are dwindling(Koh's and Frank Marshman if he's still working are about the only reliable garages around). The 75/2.8 Nikkor is a very sweet lens that I miss.

    A bit more here if you snoop around on early Bronicas:

    http://www.cameraquest.com/bronicad.htm
     
  4. lxdude

    lxdude Member

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    The S2a had a more robust mechanism and is more desirable for that reason.
     
  5. Adrian Twiss

    Adrian Twiss Member

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    Prices on SQB's are fairly reasonable. I picked up an SQB, 6 lenses, 4 backs and a prism for just over $2000. I believe the camera was just under $400 with 80mm lens, WLF and back
     
  6. Pumalite

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    Thank guys. Great links and info. I think I'm going to have to see this beast before I make a decision.
     
  7. Galah

    Galah Member

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    The s-model Bronicas are simply gorgeous, the way Mercedes Gull-wing sports cars of the '50s are, and they are designed to use the excellent Nikkor lenses. But (if you read the threads) they have a major design flaw in that the film advance mechanism in many copies (despite claims by some satisfied owners) simply breaks down (due to the use of unsuitable metal in the gear train) and more than likely is unfixable. :sad:

    It really is a shame that they used better material in the body (stainless steel) than on the gears.:sad:

    Recently, I was examining one in a bricks and mortar store, which had been "fixed": it broke down in the shop under the vendor's (horified) gaze as I operated the film advance.

    If you buy it, be prepared to lose your investment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 24, 2011
  8. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    The S2a uses stainless steel gears, resolving the overwinding issues of the earlier models.

    The case of the camera breaking down in the shop could have been unfamiliarity with the mechanism. When you wind the camera, it seems to lurch forward and suddenly release. That's the normal operation of the clutch that prevents overwinding, but it feels like something is broken, if you don't know how it works. Then the Filminder back has interlocks to prevent accidental double exposure, shooting without film, or shooting with the darkslide in, so it could appear that the camera isn't working, if you don't know that you can't just wind it without film with the back in place.
     
  9. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    I have to disagree with you about Bronica lenses. I have several for my S2A, including the 80mm 2.4, the 100mm 2.8 and the 150 3.5, and they are all very good.

    Trond
     
  10. IloveTLRs

    IloveTLRs Member

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    I had a Bronica S (not an S2) for a number of years, but I finally sold it a few weeks ago. I originally bought it because I couldn't afford a Hasselblad (and still can't, really)

    Some nice touches were ...
    - Close-focus ability: since the lenses extend into the body they can focus down to much less than 1 meter
    - No need to advance the film/cock the shutter to see through the viewfinder
    - When putting a back on the body, the darkslide automatically pops-out
    - With a back removed, there is no way to accidentally pull out the darkslide and ruin ones film
    - Backs for the S and S2 are interchangeable and cheap. I was able to gett them for about $20 a piece

    Some things I didn't like ...
    - Noise. Similar to, if not louder than, a Pentax 67. Bronicas make a loud CLANG! whereas Hasselblads make a softer CLOP. If noise doesn't bother you then this isn't an issue
    - The lack of lenses - I couldn't find anything other than the 75/2.8 (without going on to eBay.)
    - Weight. The S series are not light-weight cameras
    - Reliability ...

    It is my understanding that earlier models had brass gears, which didn't hold up so well under heavy professional use. The S2 features steel gears, which are more robust. I've been told that most repair places in Japan will refuse Bronica repairs, since internally they are quite complex. This page (in French, but Google Chrome will translate it nicely) has tons of information on Bronica, including pictures of the internals: http://www.dirapon.be/bronica.htm - personally I think they are mechanical masterpieces, but I can see why a repair person would recoil in terror.

    I had a complete set: An S with case and original box, the prism finder with case and box, the extension tubes with original box, a darkslide with plastic case, and the metal lens shade. Local places said I'd be lucky to get $20 for the whole thing, so a local Bronica-nut bought it all for $150.
     
  11. IvoPhoto

    IvoPhoto Member

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    Great user camera, I have a S2a with a complete range of lenses, Wida angle to tele. Nikkors are better than the Zenzanons (due to flare), but with proper shading, good.

    One drawback is the very dim groundglass. I fixed it by replacing it with a KIEV matglass. Brighter and equiped with a splitfocus.

    But apart from that: great user camera!
     
  12. Pumalite

    Pumalite Subscriber

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    I keep absorving the info. Thanks. Where do I find the Model in the camera?
     
  13. Pumalite

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    Well; I bought it. 1 body, 3 Zenzanon lenses: 40mm f/4, 80mm f/2.4, 200mm f/3.5, 3 backs, 1 bellows, multiple filters and a Close Up attachment for the 200mm lens. All in pristine condition. 300 bucks. Its an EC. Has a 6 volt battery. Thanks to all.
     
  14. Pumalite

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    Ah; an Aluminum case
     
  15. David A. Goldfarb

    David A. Goldfarb Moderator Staff Member Moderator

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    I've never owned an EC or EC-TL, but it's a later camera, between the S2a and the SQ series. It doesn't have the brass gearing issue of the S and S2, but they can have mirror alignment issues.

    One of the innovations of the S2a and earlier cameras was a falling mirror design, hinged at the front, so that the lens could protrude into the mirror box, and wide to normal lenses don't require as much retrofocus correction as lenses for an SLR with a conventional mirror that flips up, hinged at the film end. The downside is much greater mechanical complexity, because then you need a sheath to cover the mirror, so it doesn't reflect light back onto the film during the exposure, and a blackout curtain for the viewfinder, since normally the mirror would black out the viewfinder during the exposure. All those extra mechanisms explain why the older Bronicas are so loud.

    The EC uses a split mirror design, so it can use the same lenses as the earlier cameras, though the backs and finders are not interchangeable with the earlier cameras. I suppose this must reduce the amount of camera motion during the exposure, but introduces the possibility of alignment issues.

    Is the bellows the tilt-shift version? That's a good deal even if it isn't, but if it is, that's a real plus for closeup and tabletop work.
     
  16. Trond

    Trond Subscriber

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    Nice kit! The close-up lens is very useful because of the poor close focus capability with long lenses.

    Trond
     
  17. Pumalite

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    I'll put it to work this weekend or next and see if I can show you something.
     
  18. ulysses

    ulysses Subscriber

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    I've had an ECTL and an ECTLII with a similar assortment of lenses and accessories for about 15 years. I've had one of the bodies repaired to fix a flaky shutter (and a CLA), but on the whole the kit has been very reliable. There's a "chimney" finder that's very useful for precision work, and on the whole these are great cameras for macro abd studio work. And the 6x6 transparencies look *great* on the light box (and scan well, too) I just wish I could project them. I do need an aluminum case, though. Enjoy it!

    Ulysses
     
  19. Pumalite

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    Sorry. One more question. I removed the back and started firing the shutter at different speeds. At some moment, the shutter stop functioning. A little anxious, I performed multiple maneuvers and the shutter started again. Is there something logical that would make this shutter stop in those conditions?
     
  20. Pumalite

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    Fix it.