The Prettiest Bronica

Discussion in 'Classic Manual Cameras' started by rick_drawbridge, Aug 16, 2020.

  1. This weekend I've been using one of the most attractive cameras in my collection, the deco-styled Zenza Bronica "S", circa 1961. It's quite a different camera from the later Bronica S2a I usually use, most particularly in having the focusing helical built into the body and not as a separate detachable unit fixed to the lens mount, as with subsequent Bronicas. It's a very hefty camera, with lashings of stainless steel and grey leather, but it proved to be mechanically a little fragile, mainly because of the use of brass components in the winding mechanism. Later Bronicas featured hardened steel, much more durable in this high stress area. It's a quirky camera, especially in regard to the dark slide fitted to the removable film backs. To remove the back, one has to exert a little inward pressure on the slide and the back is freed from the body. When the back is mounted with the dark slide in place you can't take a shot, and if an attempt is made the camera shoots the slide about a third of the way out, just to remind you.

    Bronica "S"

    Zenza Bronica -S- copy.jpg

    When the "S" was released Zenza was still sourcing lenses from Nikon, and they are very impressive both mechanically and optically. Since the "S" features a focal plane shutter the lenses are comparatively simple in design, but extremely solidly constructed to very close tolerances. Fitting a lens to the camera and feeling it's silky rotation to the click stop is a joyous experience. While there are apocryphal stories regarding the noise and vibration of Bronica shutters, I have no trouble hand-holding the camera at speeds equaling the focal length of the lens fitted, and most of the noise occurs when the big mirror slaps back into place, after the exposure. Some of the images I'll post below were shot at 1/60th using a 50mm lens, and they're certainly sharp enough.

    I took the camera around town in a cold but sunny winter's afternoon, fitted with the excellent 50mm Nikkor-H f/3.5 lens. The camera was loaded with Arista EDU Ultra 100, an interesting film that's quite different from the 35mm stock of the same name. As with most Arista films, the actual manufacturer is a matter of speculation, but the film has a very thin polyester base that dries absolutely flat, a characteristic beloved by my scanners. It also features a very strong cyan-coloured anti-halation dye, and an exceptionally fine grain with tonal values not unlike Iford Pan F 50. It's a little slow for hand-held use in anything other than good light, but given the right circumstances the results can be exceptional. Development was in PMK Pyro, and I hope you find a few frames to like.











    Just Nobody

    Just Nobody.jpg



    St.Andrews in the Winter

    St Andrews in the winter.jpg
  2. Beautiful camera, Rick. And results to match.
  3. Rick- Some of the Arista EDU Ultra times match Fomapan times, but not for all developers. I base this on the Massive Development Chart, which is largely user submitted data so some of it may conflict with the manufacturer. I've noticed the price gap between Foma and Arista EDU Ultra films as narrowed (at least at Freestyle) so I may buy some more of the ISO 200 stock before long. The tone of the Arista (at least in PMK does compare favorably with Pan F+. I actually just bought a 100' of Pan F+ so I'll be using with mostly with primes and faster zooms in good light. I like what the film can do in HC110 dilution H.
  4. An extra hot day so, over to Portside Marina to cool off. Pentax KX with M35/2.8 on Kentmere 100 in Pyro HD.


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  5. Thanks.

    We need more stories and essays like this.:)
    cameragary and Bettendorf like this.
  6. Sorry Rick & All, wrong Thread!!!!!
  7. Rick, when I first saw Just Nobody I immediately thought that had to be a big, giant Kiwi since you paid it no never-mind. But alas, when I searched images of one I found that they have fur and not feathers! Flightless indeed.
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2020
  8. Actually, it's a full-sized replica of the now-extinct Moa, the biggest bird ever. Kiwis do have feathers, but very fine and silky. I'm rather fond of the replica; it's a work of art by a local metal-worker. Once upon a time there was an eagle that preyed upon the Moa, a gigantic bird of prey that must have been an awesome creature.
  9. It sure must have. Thanks for the info.
  10. The bird.

    The Bird.jpg
    Last edited: Aug 18, 2020
  11. self-portrait in the bathroom mirror ... 1979 :(
    001CMC Autorretrato Bronica N75.jpg Bronica S2a. Nikkor-P 75. Tri-X 400. D-76 (1:1) 9' at 23ºC​
  12. THIS is the best-looking:

    Bronica Deluxe 1

    Bought an S+75mm Nikkor for 50 bucks a decade ago, happily shot it for a couple years and chucked it after its cheesy brass gear train stripped--likely not the first time judging from mismatched leatherette and other surgical scars. Noisy, heavy, awkward handheld. Repairs all but impossible in N. America. Later models better but breakdowns still result in a premium doorstop. Loved the Nikkor lens for portraits. Bought a NOS Bronica SQ-B and never looked back for another focal plane shutter model.
    cameragary and allancobb like this.
  13. Lovely camera, outstanding results! I too have an “S” that I had refurbished a couple years ago and it works like new. I took it to Banff National Park in Alberta last year and it delivered nicely. I also had an S2, but sold it after my S came back from the shop... I liked the focusing action and the lack of the overwind clutch to overcome (and the looks) of the S better.
    cameragary and luis triguez like this.

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