Reliability of Bronica SQ-A/Ai

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by denis_komissarov|1, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. Hi All!

    I've saw a lot of complains about SQ-A and SQ-Ai models on this forum.
    There can be two explanations for this fact:
    a) There are many users of SQ systems and while system itself is quite
    reliable there are some normal percent of problem bodies/lenses.
    b) The camera is unreliable.

    How you think where is the truth? I'm new in Bronica world so may be
    its known from practice that some models are superb and some are so-so
    in terms of reliability. So how about SQ-A? How its reliability
    compares with such classic mechanical cameras as Hasselblad 500C/M?
  2. People don't comment on boards about cameras that work unremarkably. My two bodies, half dozen lenses and 6 backs have never done anything but work. Bronicas used by many professional wedding photographers, so they can't be too unreliable.
  3. I bought a used SQ-A about a year ago. I did a lot of reading before I bought it and I've read every thread since with the SQ series in the title; and I can't say I've really seen any negative comments to speak of, let alone downright complaints.

    Mine has worked great BTW.

  4. I've been using a used SQA for 9 years now. Never had any problems. The first 3 years were in hot and humid SW Florida. The last 6 years in dusty New Mexico. Finally got a CLA done on it. I've seen more threads about Hasselblads locking up than anything about Bronicas. Frankly, I would not trade my Bronica for a Hasselblad, even if it was a straight trade.
  5. david_henderson


    I don't see a huge number of compaints about Bronica either. But you have to be realistic. A SQ-A could be 25 years old and hard at work in a studio all week then a wedding every weekend for nearly all that time. I keep saying on here that reliability is a function of an individual example rather than a brand or model. You might find that a Hasselblad of the same age and usage would *on average* breal down a little less than a Bronica or Mamiya or Pentax of the same vintage and heritage. The problem is that you dont know that the one you buy is going to be on that average.

    Buying used is always a bit of a lottery. Very often the outfit/person selling it may not know whether the cameras given trouble in the past; whether its been serviced regularly (most haven't) or even how and by whom its been used. It could have a pristine lens stuck on a clapped -out body or back. Even if the seller knows or suspects, he might not choose to volunteer much information. If you're buying a camera for a few $00 it is not realistic to expect the seller to have carried out a cla and he might not even have checked the functionality really well.

    The most productive route is to buy the camera you want but buy it from someone you know/trust who has at least checked its functionality, made sure the light seals and shutter are ok, and who will stand behind it if it goes wrong. Then test it with real photographs across the range of shutter speeds/aperturs and get a handbook so at least you can work out how the thing should be working. Half the "technical" complaints here are from people who don't understand how the camera should work, but the handbooks are available on eBay or for download.

    Buying it and testing it the right way is going to give you a lot more reassurance than buying a camera that *on average* is 10% "more reliable" than another brand- not that you'll ever find that out anyway since there are no credible numbers and all you've got to go on is the subjective view of various owners or readers.

    Finally bear in mind that reliability isn't the only issue. Ease and cost of repair can make a breakdown either a minor inconvenience or a nightmare. Don't buy a used camera without knowing who you can get to mend it.

    Incidentally, since I bought a second Bronica body as back-up I've never had to change cameras whilst on a trip. Coincidence is a much bigger force than small numbers.
  6. My experience: very reliable. I got one SQ-Ai body, one SQ-B body, some lenses and backs. All new, though. I've never had a problem so far.
  7. Thanks for your opinions!
  8. I haven't heard more horror stories about Bronicas than about Hasselblads. Most complaints are, as said above, because the user does not know how to use the camera, and instead of asking a simple question, they scream "HELP!!!, MY BRONICA BROKE DOWN." Then they are told they have to cock the shutter or take off the lens cap in order to see an image in the viewfinder.

    Just buy the gear from someone who gives you a warrantee. When I bought mine (second hand), I had a one week "no questions asked" return period, and three month warrantee after that.

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