Bronica ETR SI First Thoughts

May 30, 2024  •  Leave a Comment

Hey Ya'll! Hope you're having a great week. Me? Pretty good. Today is another rainy day so I thought I would spend my time writing yet another blog and yet again about another piece of gear. I know , I know I have GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). As you know I've been really into film this year. From shooting , Developing and Scanning I've really been into the process and the film project I'm doing. Then I got to thinking what kind of project can I do next year that will keep me into film?  I thought how about medium format and try to shoot fine art landscapes and such. The only problem I have with that is I don't have a medium format camera. Well I didn't. I do have one now. And that's what this blog is about the Bronica ETR SI. This is a Japanese camera made from 1989 - 2004 when digital was killing film camera's. The company has been around since the end of WWII and the ZENZA BRONICA first appeared in 1959. So it's a company that has a history in medium format cameras. This isn't a sexy camera like the Hasselblads are. It is known as a workhorse no frills camera. It is also known as a poor mans Hasselblad. Which is funny I also own a poor mans Leica with the Canon Canonet QL17 LOL. This camera was mainly a studio and Landscape camera . Let me go over some of the specs.

It's a SLR type camera. Which means you see through the lens when you focus. Unlike the twin lens and the Rangefinder type of cameras. Which means there is no parallax going on. What you have framed is what you get.

It is a system camera. Which means you can configure the camera many different ways. With different film backs, to viewfinders and lenses.  It also has a speed handle that can be attached that has shutter button and rewind lever attached. It is very versatile and can adapt to many shooting situations.

This is a 645 (6cm X 4.5 cm Negative) medium format camera. It has many different film backs to shoot all sorts of film. It can shoot 135 film (35mm) , 120 film, 220 film and polaroid . Using different film backs for all of them. You can also switch film mid roll. For example If your shooting 120 color and take a couple of shots , You can take the film back off and put one that has 120 black and white film without finishing the color film and go back and forth.  This will keep you from wasting film when changing back and forth between types of film. It can also shoot panorama with a special film back using 35mm film.

Lenses- It uses Zenzanon lenses made by Bronica. In earlier models it used Nikon Nikor lenses until they had their lenses perfected. The lenses also include the leaf shutter along with aperture .  The lenses come in maximum aperture of f2.8 and f4 and are super sharp and are plentiful and can be easily purchased.

Shutter- As mentioned above it has a leaf shutter instead of a focal plane shutter. It has a range from bulb to 1/500 of a second. With a leaf shutter you can sync your flash at any speed it isn't restricted to a certain shutter speed like a focal plane shutter. This camera also has a mirror lock-up feature to keep camera steady when shooting at low shutter speeds. The shutter is controlled from the main body and must have a battery power to operate. If battery dies it shoots at 1/500 as a default.

Other features. It has a multiple exposure lever so you can take more than one shot on the same frame, Battery check button to check the strength of your battery and a cable release socket.

Viewfinders- You can choose between two different viewfinders. One is the waist level finder that you look down and through the lens and the other is a prism view finder that you look through like a normal SLR. The prism view finder has a meter in it and can shoot in Aperture Priority. With the waist level you have to use a hand held meter to get the proper exposure.

I was very lucky to find this particular camera .  What I got with the kit was the body, 2 film backs a 120 and a 220, Prism and a waist level viewfinder, 2 lenses a 50mm and a 75mm both max aperture f 2.8, and Speed handle. All in the original boxes with receipts when they were bought in the early 90's.  Main body , lenses, prism viewfinder and 120 film back had never been used. They were owned by a professional portrait photographer that had purchased as a backup. He died a few years ago and a friend was selling them.  I saw the kit on Facebook marketplace and was surprised when I inspected them how good of shape they were in. I was very lucky. I am now learning all I can about 120 film and have shot one roll through it and developed it . I am pleasantly surprised at my results. I am very excited about using this camera for years to come and projects to come. Well that's enough about gear for today. Until Next week Get out and Shoot!

 


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