Author Topic: Zenza Bronica ETR advice  (Read 202 times)

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cs1

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Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« on: January 07, 2018, 11:07:29 AM »
Dear fellow filmwasters, I've come to realize that there're quite a lot of Zenza Bronica ETR users among us. I'm thinking about buying one for myself and I'm looking for your advice regarding this venture. I've been gathering information and so far I think that I'd like a Zenza Bronica ETRSi. However, I haven't made up my mind about which viewfinder(s) and which lens(es) to get. Also, I don't know which accessories would be useful other than that I need a 120 film back. So my question to all of you Zenza Bronica ETR owners would be these:
  • Are there any known weaknesses that I should be aware of that are Zenza Bronica ETR specific?
  • If I get a single lens, which one should it be?
  • What accessories are "mandatory"?
  • Are there any quirks that I should know about as a Zenza Bronica rookie?
Thanks for your help!

PeterR

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2018, 11:11:32 AM »
I've only handled one once and was VERY surprised to find the mirror isn't of the instant return variety. Having used Mamiya 645 for years I assumed the Bronny would be the same - it isn't. If this is likely to be an issue for you, get a Mamiya.
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cs1

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2018, 11:47:29 AM »
The mirror swings back when the shutter is cocked, right?

I've been looking into a Mamiya 645 which seems to be the only close alternative to the Zenza Bronica ETR. ManuelL was kind enough to lend me his 645 Super. Unfortunately the Super seems to have an "engineered obsolescence" built-in (the mirror stop) which is also broken in Manuel's 645 Super (I'm still looking into ways to repair it; simply replacing it with the same part that breaks as easily doesn't make too much sense, I believe; engineering a new part made from brass seems to be reasonable but not an easy thing to accomplish). :( So I'm a little unsure about the durability of the Mamiya 645s (read: I only know this one Mamiya 645 Super and it made me cautious about archilles heels that might also be present in other 645s; maybe there aren't any problems with other 645s but I haven't researched this enough to say for sure). On the other hand I've heard that the Zenza Bronicas are built like a tank which sounds reassuring.

AJShepherd

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2018, 12:00:56 PM »
If I've not used my ETRS for a while it takes me a little while to adjust to the mirror staying up until you wind on. First time I used it I thought something had broken!

I got an AEII metering prism for mine, but found out that holding the camera to the eye was unwieldy, so I also got the Speed Grip which clips to the bottom and meshes with the wheel where the hand crank normally attaches. Thing to look out for is that the winding mechanism can appear to work when the grip is unattached, but not work when attached due to an internal failure. I was able to return the first one I got for one which worked.


The SLR of DOOM by Antony Shepherd, on Flickr

The prism and grip does make it heavier though, so last time I went out with it I just used the top-down finder and crank to travel light!

Mine came with a 75mm f2.8, and the only other lens I have for it is the 50mm f2.8 which is a nice wide. I keep thinking about buying a longer lens too.

Another thing is that the battery is required to work the shutter (there's only one speed available without battery) so you need one even if you're not using a metering prism. The battery will drain even if left in so take the battery out when not using it.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2018, 01:09:24 PM by AJShepherd »

Bryan

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2018, 01:30:26 PM »
I just got an ETRSi with a 50mm and a Macro 100mm lens.  I just shot my first roll through it using the 100mm lens exclusively, I can see using that lens the most.  To me the point of having a system like this is the ability to use different lenses for different shooting situations.  I just ordered a 250mm lens and an extension tube for it.  Maybe someday I’ll get a Super wide lens.

I prefer the waist level finder but if I was to get a prism finder it would be just for the meter since they don’t have that option for waist level. 

The lack of an automatic mirror return doesn’t bother me, I always wind on after a shot anyhow.  I got into that habit with older cameras that don’t have any protection from double exposure.  The one quirk that I knew about but accidentally did anyhow was forgetting to turn off the mirror lock-up before winding on.  If you don’t do that the mirror stays locked up and you will lose a frame. 

So far I really like this camera.  I’m not usually a fan of plastic cameras but it seems very well built.  I’m still getting used to the operation of it because it is a bit more complicated than most cameras. 

Zenza Bronica ETRSi by Bryan Chernick, on Flickr

cs1

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2018, 03:17:20 PM »
Thanks for your replies, Antony and Bryan. I think that the waist level viewfinder should be a good idea to keep the camera compact (I like using an extra lightmeter anyhow so the lack of one in the viewfinder is no issue for me). I think that with the grip it might be too big.

What do you think about the Zenzanon lenses?

PeterR

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2018, 04:39:45 PM »
I think the Mamiya mirror stop problem was mainly an issue with the Super. I also had Pro bodies and an earlier 1000s and had no problems with them. The 1000s was my favourite but it doesn't have a removable back.
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cs1

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2018, 05:00:03 PM »
Thanks for the info, Peter. The 1000s indeed looks interesting. I don't necessarily need interchangeable backs.

johnha

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Re: Zenza Bronica ETR advice
« Reply #8 on: January 08, 2018, 05:58:59 PM »
I haven't used an ETR, but have an SQB (6x6 - which I presume works similarly), I also have a Mamiya 645 Pro (with prism & winder). If you shoot verticals on 645, you probably need a prism (metered or not), as trying to line up one with a WLF is an exercise in frustration (futility?).

The SQB does not have an instant return mirror, there's an LED in the finder which flashes when the shutter has closed (useful when on shutter speeds of several seconds), the mirror returns when you wind the film. Sounds simple enough, but it's something I had to get used to (especially if you miss the LED flash). I haven't used a meter prism or a Speedgrip - however I suspect the outfit would be somewhat clunky compared to the 645 Pro (with prism & winder) which feels just like a big 35mm SLR. The leaf shutters in the Bronica might be a help with flash sync.

The lenses are very good - all mainstream MF lenses were at the time. I'm not familiar with those for the ETR but the SQ series sometimes need an extension tube for portraits (closer focussing 'portrait' lenses were available but were very expensive).

The only problems I've encountered with the SQB has been a couple of used lenses - the leaf shutter was slow/sticky and didn't respond to the speed set on the body. You can check this by removing the film back, putting the multi-exposure lever on 'continuous' (this by-passes the body/film back interlock) and looking through the camera. Like many leaf shutter cameras, the lens mount has a cocking pin that must be in the right position before mounting the lens, the body has a similar pin which moves as the film advances. Oh, and you can't remove the film back if the dark slide isn't fully inserted - make sure you get one with the camera!

In use I prefer the 645 Pro - it just seems slicker and less clunky but my aim was to get 35mm like handling in a larger format.

John.
« Last Edit: January 08, 2018, 06:04:46 PM by johnha »