Now what! (I have a Bronica SQ-A system in my hands)

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by greglyon, Jul 23, 2005.

  1. Hi again,
    A couple months back I asked some questions regarding a friend's Bronica SQ-A system. She wanted more than I was willing to spend so I let it go. WELL, she found out what she could get for it at one of the big new york companies and now she's offering it to me for $700...
    Here's the kit:
    • 1 body with prism finder
    • 1 body with waist level finder
    • 2 80mm lenses
    • 1 50mm lens
    • 1 150mm lens
    • 2 220 backs
    • 2 120 backs
    • lens hoods for all
    • a compendium lens hood with soft focus and special effect filters (Tiffen maybe)
    • A hand grip
    • good UV filters on all lenses + 6 other filters
    • As a Medium Format Newbie I'm gonna start with the manual but What do you suggest I do to see if this is for me? I intend to test this format for landscapes and portraits. (I also shoot wildlife and macro but they seem better suited to 35mm.)
      As a casual shooter, do I need 2 bodies? The thought occurs to me to keep one of them and sell the other with the extra 80mm lens.
      Are there specific things to check out as I'm deciding whether to buy this or not?
      Oh yeah, the lenses are S, not PS. Adorama rated her stuff as 'excellent'. So, is this price fair? It seems so to me but I don't exactly keep a close eye on this type of gear!
      As always, Thanks for your help!
  2. First step. Run some film through it. Try something cheap. I've got a suggestion or two if you'd like.

    Next, Are you going to lug around a 2nd body and backup lenses? If not, dump them.

    As for the price being fair, if you're willing to pay it...
  3. I just read my response, and it sounded a little dickish. I love MF, but am not familiar with Bronica.

    If you've got the camera in your posession, the best thing that you can do is take pictures with it. You should know right away if you like it, if it is something that can grow on you (or you grow on it). Have fun.
  4. all that stuff would go for about $1,200+ on ebay. Take what you want and sell off the rest. chances are you'll wind up getting a camera for free.
  5. Hello,

    You can't pass that offer, very good deal, take it man! You can use two bodies and even if you don't then sell one. Test all the lenses and use them for landscapes and portraits. You can sell the spare 80mm and the spare body separately anytime for a good price. Bronica make excellent lenses and you can collect the others later. The backs are great for using different films and swapping over, colour to B/W, or fast to slow etc.

    If I were you I would buy it and use it, it is a great system and you will not find that price anywhere else. If you do not buy it please contact me and I will buy it.

  6. Thanks for your responses! I thought this was too good to pass up.
    Re: Testing
    I suppose the 'cheapest' test will be to use black&white film and develop myself. I have the equipment for developing and contact sheets but I was never a darkroom fan...maybe color makes sense? I was mostly a velvia/provia shooter before switching to D100/D70 so maybe slides makes more sense? I live in Minneapolis, MN so I do have easy access to processing. Your thoughts would be appreciated!
    Also, testing each shutter speed/aperture in the kit sounds pricy for medium format! Would it be an adequate test to try min and max aperture, and 2-4 shutter speeds, or will that be inadequate?
    Re: Scanning
    I don't have a medium format film scanner, but I do have an Epson Perfection 1670 flatbed. Will that give good enough results for say, 8"x enlargements? I will get the 'best' images professionally scanned when I'm going for big photos. I'll only consider buying a scanner if I really start using the camera a lot.
    Once thanks again for your very informative responses! Time to go figure out how to load the darn thing...
  7. Great deal. I worked hard on EBay to get gear, and came out about $1000 for the kit you list plus one of the macro lenses. Since then I've added bellows and a 40mm. I love the camera. S versus PS is pretty much a non-event, even if you shoot color film. I shoot Kodak Ultra 90% of the time, and other than telltale signs like angle of view, I'm beyond hard pressed to tell which lens was used.

    I'd disagree slightly about getting rid of the second body. It is older gear, and if you fall in love with the format, or use it for working shoots, a backup body is pretty important to have. Two 80mm lenses may be what I'd consider excessive. Your back combination is pretty good. I shoot mostly 220, for the ease of not having to change film all the time. Even though the backs are easy enough to load that swapping backs is more for the high end fashion professional, I've appreciated the luxury of being able to swap on a new loaded back in a few situations. I keep fast color in the 120 backs, and 100 or 200 speed in the 220 backs, or transparency film in 120, negative film in 220.

    Testing shutter and all sound like it makes a ton of sense, but a couple of camera dealer and repair guys I know say that Bronica's electronic shutter is pretty reliable and the least likely to go bad of any they deal with. Even better, I've had superb experiences with Bronica/Tamrom parts department - I had to replace a broken camera strap lug, which is a $5 part that is installed so deeply in the camera that it's an hour of work to install a new one. They not only sent me the part, they faxed me exploded repair diagrams, and told me to call once I was opening the body so that they could point out the two things I should watch for when installing the new one. I wish all tech support had that kind of attitude.

    Sounds like you may be a nature shooter. The 80mm on the bronica bellows (which are still obscenely expensive) or the 110 macro lens on the bellows make for one incredible macro shooting setup. I love to play with "what's big, shown tiny, what's tiny, shown big" in my shooting, and this is a great setup for that. A really good set of closeup diopters also work very well with the 80mm and 150mm lenses if you don't want to deal with a humongous heavy tripod setup. (The bellows are really heavy.)

    And in terms of scanning - you'll have no trouble going to 8x10ish with the setup you mention. I use an epson 4800 series scanner, and i get exceptionally nice prints at 24inch square. I had a request for a larger image (36 square) and only then did I notice a need to get a fancy scan done.
  8. Sounds like a great price to me. If I were you, I'd buy it and sell off what you don't need to recover some of your expenses. Otherwise, if you don't want it, I'm sure plenty of poeple here would jump on this deal. just my two cents, I just bought a used Bronica SQAM kit with prism, 3 lenses, back and a few other items for just under just over $600US. If you sell off one body and one lens on ebay, you could probably get back at least $350US back adn would overall kit would be cheap as dirty!
  9. Well, if you decide to get rid of a body with 80mm lens and a back,please let me know as I'd be really interested.

  10. Don...I'll keep you posted.

    Haven't decided if I'll keep both bodies or sell one yet. And I'm not sure whether I prefer eye level or waist level finder, they both seem to have their place...
  11. I just got an SQ-A with waist level finder, 120 back, and 80mm lens off ebay for $235. Just FYI.
  12. Hello,
    although i did not yet get my MF Bronica in my hands yet, for your question testing "a" camera, i can contribute some answers that would pretty much be a general guide to testing body and lenses.
    first a rule of thumb; always use a fresh slide film to test a camera. the reason is, you want to see the functioning of the camera in terms of shutter accuracy(exposure), lens focusing accuracy and exposure metering (but i guess the kit you have does not have an AE finder, so you will have to use a reliable exposure meter to test it. a trustworthy camera that you use would do fine, just take a TTL meter from the same area as you see from bronicas viewfinder). if you use a film but not a positive transparency, you image will have to go through further processing and it will definitely be a diminished-quality copy of the original. if it is a color negative, the processor can automatically adjust for exposure errors. and for printing part, the quality depends on which enlarger lens and chemicals are used etc. so with a color positive transparency you will see exactly what the camera has seen (given that you have a fresh film developed in a reputable shop)
    you can visually test the lens and the body concerning focus. if you are sure that you focused precisely but the pictures are out of focus, then there is a problem with lens to film plane distance. it may be because a) the lens bayonet can be out of adjustment b) the bayonet mount of the camera body needs adjustment. if this is the case, all your lenses should give out-of-focus results) for this use maximum aperture with limited depth of field, and focus on a distinctive sharp pattern close to you. also take a shot for infinity. other than that it would be a waste of film. you can check the body-lens-shutter-aperture interactivity while dry shooting (whether the aperture closes down as shutter is released the same time with the mirror, but it will only be a visual estimation that they work. if you want to be death sure about it, take it to a camera repair shop and pass it through a test, as they may be able to see precisely if the shutter is working as it should, using electronic equipment.
    well, i have also heard a lot that bronicas are though and reliable cameras, so i hope that you will probably have no problems at all, and have a pleasurable shooting session.

Share This Page