Zenza Bronica ETRs reliability ?

Discussion in 'Medium Format' started by fakun_valencia, Jul 10, 2014.

  1. Hello, I have a full set Bronica ETRs body + 3 lenses + waist lever + pentaprism + 120 backs + polaroid back + bellows + accs. Pay good price for the set but really do not use certain accessories. Perhaps with the 75mm lens and to a lesser measure the 50mm would cover my needs. A TLR might be a good option with fixed optics (mecanical vs electronic) . My main fear is if electronics can cause problems. Can anyone tell me if this particular model is usually to electronic problems or if has any weak point ?. If so, has easy repair ? . Always keep the equipment in good storage conditions, and I use it regularly. A greeting and thanks.
  2. david_henderson

    david_henderson www.photography001.com

    There's a few points you need to take on board
    • The reliability of medium format equipment varies enormously from example to example. It depends on how much use, whether its been serviced, how its been treated and so on. A body that's been treated well by a careful hobbyist is likely to cause less grief than a body that's been in use all day every day for a chunk of its life. So provenance is vital and as the equipment gets older, harder to know.
    • Medium format cameras were made largely in the expectation that they'd be serviced every year or two by trained technicians. Most people seemed not to spend this money, others (including me) did. Bear in mind that these cameras were never made in the quantities of today's slrs. There was much more variation from one example to another.
    • Medium format repairs were always quite expensive and for the last decade have been hugely expensive in comparison to their used prices. That means some gear gets re-sold as soon as a problem occurs as its cheaper to replace that to fix- though of course one usually has no guarantee that the replacement doesn't have a problem somewhere too. There's much to be gained by buying from a source that offers a warranty or the right to return if a fault should emerge soon.
    • Certainly here in the UK, the previous main dealers no longer service Bronica gear as of maybe a couple of years ago. To get a fix you need to find an independent repair facility, or as I say to replace rather than repair.
    • I used Bronica SQAi systems as my main cameras between 1998 and 2008. Whilst I'm very happy with the photographs I got, the experiences were not trouble free, especially initially. There were electrical/pcb issues with two of the cameras I bought which proved initially difficult to diagnose. The seals in the backs go after a small number of years leading to light leaks- some people learned to fix that themselves. I had issues with mirror lock up on one body.
    In general if you're asking whether your equipment is likely to remain trouble free in future, its an impossible question and you have no guarantees on a body that is now at least 26 years old and up to 36 . If it were me I'd be deciding whether I was prepared to replace rather than repair and whether I had a repair facility fairly locally. If the answer to both is "no" then I'd want another camera. But be aware that I'm not suggesting here that Bronica are especially bad. Its entirely possible that if you go out and buy 30 year old gear of any medium format brand without knowing about its history, and the opportunity to make sure that its functionally perfect when bought, you could get equivalent problems.
  3. SCL


    In the time I owned an ETRs and an ETRsI (about 8 years), there were never any electronic problems per se. I used a winder grip on mine and occasionally the shutter wouldn't fire, but it was always because I neglected to finely tune the adjustment when I mounted it.
  4. I have used an ETRs and an ETRsi kit for portraits since 2009. I have found them completely reliable. I have also never heard any reports of ETR's having any electronic problems.
    To my way of thinking, the electronic shutter in the ETR lenses is probably simpler and more reliable with less need of adjustment than a purely mechanical camera (thinking Hasselblad here...)
    Because I don't rely on the ETR's for paying work, I decided to not keep two bodies. I sold the backup ETRs and kept the ETRsi. I guess that's my personal faith that the ETRsi will be reliable!
  5. Stephen Lewis, can you tell me more about this fine tune adjustment for the speed grip? I use a speed grip about half the time, but never noticed that there was any adjustment. I just slap it on the camera (and have been lucky I guess.)
  6. SCL


    Hi David - I no longer have my Bronica gear, but as I recall the adjustment on mine consisted of closely adjusting the alignment of mating surfaces and the length of the throw. Once done it worked like a charm.
  7. Thanks guys, my equipment is really lovely condition, I will start to use it and hope no problems in future.
  8. The only complaints when I had one for a while I used specifically to shoot car and musician type adds, was first the ETRs didn't always
    get along with certain flash units. One of my Lumedyne packs almost blew the side out because of some malfunction where the camera
    was shorting something from the head back to the pack. I had a similar problem in a studio. That was the ONLY camera I ever had a
    flash sync problem with using high power units. Also the regular 50mm, not the Second Ei II version or whatever was SOFT on the edges
    when shooting big groups. My SQa 50 PS and Hasselbkad were noticably better.

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