New Camera – the Bronica SQ-Ai

My most recent addition - the Bronica SQ-Ai
My most recent addition – the Bronica SQ-Ai

Back in April when I first started shooting on film again, I mentioned one of the reasons was the enhanced resolution compared to digital.  If you think of film as a sensor, it makes sense that a larger piece of film will have even more resolution.  The 35mm negative is 36mm x 24mm.  Compare that to the Bronica which has a 56mm x 56mm square negative.  Mathematically, that gives the Bronica negative over 3.5 times the area or resolution as 35mm.  Plus it’s a cool 6 x 6 cm square format.

Actually, as I type this, I realize there are 6 x 6 and 6 x 4.5 backs.  I better go verify which one I have! OK, yeah.  It’s a 6 x 6 back, so the math is still accurate.

I’ve tried to buy a few medium format cameras this year.  A Mamiya 645 ($150), and Kowa Six ($150), even considered a Mamiya RB-67 ($475) and briefly looked at a Hasselblad 500 ($750!).  The first two were on CL and sold before I inquired.  The other two were at a liquidation sale and just more than I wanted to spend.  Perhaps worth the price, but I saw the same RB-67 on CL the following month, eventually  at a lower price before it disappeared.

Anyway, this Bronica has a Zenzanon PS 80mm lens, seems to be functional and relatively clean with signs of use, and came my way for $125 so I couldn’t pass it up.  It has been modified to put a hot shoe in the viewfinder, which is sort of a hack job, and which was my main bargaining point.  Hopefully I can get a test roll shot on Friday, and I’ll share results once I have time to get to the darkroom to develop the roll and do a contact sheet, which may or may not be in November.

Other film and photography-related updates coming soon:

  • I have a new film to shoot next week from the FPP.  It’s an Ilford/Foma 200 ISO Black & White film which is less than $3.50 a roll, so I figured it was worth a try.  I’ll also be shooting more Ilford HP-5 (which is becoming my “go-to” B&W film) and Eastman 5222 Double-X in the next couple weeks.  Maybe even some Svema 64 if the light is right!
  •  I’m also kicking around developing some color film myself.  I have three rolls of C-41 right now (one being the “lost roll” from June which I finally recovered and finished shooting), access to a darkroom and professional scanning equipment (for a small fee), so I figure why not?
  • I have a few other contact sheets complete and an assignment due this week for class which I haven’t shared, including the results of my first attempt at pushing Ilford HP-5 Plus to 1600.
  • I’d also like to get a roll shot through the Zeiss Ikon Contina IIa in December. It’s cleaned up, has film in it (can’t remember what I loaded, but probably old Fuji 200 again), and it’s ready to go.
    • (The 600mm lens in the same post was unsalvageable – fungus in the elements themselves. But I learned it is possible to take these apart and put them back together!)
  • I’m looking at a possible light box for my personal use at home for viewing slides and negatives, so I’ll share my findings as a try things out.

My travel and work schedule through the end of the year should be favorable, so hopefully I can have fun with all these things for the rest of 2014.



2 thoughts on “New Camera – the Bronica SQ-Ai

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