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Bronica SQ Series Medium Format
Product DescriptionThe resulting SQ-Ai is a medium format single lens reflex camera incorporating original Bronica "system" technology which answers the high image technique capabilities expected by the professional photographer. The "system" camera has always been a Bronica philosophy, ever since the founding of the company. Through years of developing medium format single lens reflex cameras, based on the "system" concept, the SQ-Ai is now the result.
Submitted by roresteen a Professional
Date Reviewed: November 17, 2011
Strengths: Great lenses, om par with Zeiss optics IMO. Can be a 645, 135, or pano 135 with interchangable backs. Can't do that with a Hasselblad.
Weaknesses: None that really matter; keep the 3v battery fresh like in anything else. You might not be regarded s cool as the guy toting the 500C/M or an RZII, but your images stand shoulder to shoulder with any other 6x6 camera.
The build quality and lens are traditional 1970's -1980's tank-like. It feels solid in my hands.
I can deal with any cameras idiosyncrasies, whether it's a Leica, Hasselblad, Rollie, Pentax, Mamiya, and of course, Bronica. You just get use to how it works then learn to shoot it. There for, I won't include much on the "cons' as maybe some wood. I even read on a similar review for the GS-1 that a "con" was no digital back. Really? Why downgrade the beauty of film with pixels...
Anyway - the only way I buy into any camera is the ability of it's main lens or lens group as a whole. The 80 2.8 that is standard with the SQ series is superb. It is easily on par with the famous Zeiss Planar 80 2.8 found on almost every V series 'Blad. This 80 is gorgeous. Quite frankly, I'm not sure why one would pay 3X as much for a 500C C/M. And I love Hasselblads.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $125.00
Purchased At: Private sale
Similar Products Used: Hasselblad 500C, 1000F, 2000FC, Mamiya C330, C220
Type of photography: People
Submitted by B-rad a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: March 27, 2007
Strengths: Cheap, good quality & optics, modular.
Weaknesses: No bulb setting, Ugly!
I'm going to reiterate much of what has already been said... before the advent of digital photography I could never have afforded Medium Format equipment of any kind. Thousands of wedding photographers dump their bread & butter Bronicas on the used market & suddenly the SQA body that retailed new for about $1500.00 can be found on e-bay for $34.50 + $10 shipping. THAT'S WHAT I PAID FOR THE BODY! I still can't believe it... Quality reminds me for my old Nikon FE (same circa), can be used to pound nails in a pinch & will still work. Mine is ugly all over, I have the 110 PS macro and the 50 PS and they are both very sharp. The AE finder gives me aperture priority (it really is like my old Nikon FE) and I have yet to have any problems with the film backs (knock wood). Don’t bother to acquire a 220 back as, at least in my experience, 220 film is becoming difficult to obtain.
Duration Product Used: 11-20 years
Price Paid: $400.00
Purchased At: e-bay & keh
Similar Products Used: Nikon FE
Submitted by txind76121 a Expert
Date Reviewed: August 3, 2004
Strengths: The SQ-Ai was officially discontinued a while back now, and everyone is switching over to digital, which means that the bargains are just outrageous. Strengths of the camera? Results, results, results.
Weaknesses: Occasionally the electronics or interlocks get flustered and you have to coax them back to life. Also, I really wish they had metering in the body, preferably aperture-priority AE but at least uncoupled manual. I really like using the waist level finder but don't get metering that way.
I've always liked these. I've owned Hassie and Mamiya RZ, but I went through a long period in the '80s-'90s when I would rent Bronicas for certain jobs. Once even had to rent one when my Hassie 500C/M jammed!! Don't quite know why I like Bronicas so much better, but they feel friendlier, more trustworthy. Never had one go down.
Recently I finally bought one of my own, because the deals available right now are so amazing--people are giving these away. I bought a mint SQ-A with back and grip for $400, and a KEH "Ex+" (which to KEH means collectably perfect) 80mm PS lens for $275. Can't beat those prices with a stick.
It's been fun re-acquainting with Bronica SQ. Encourages a different kind of photography for me--I've been working slower, using setups more, enlisting greater cooperation from subjects, using tripod more often. Fun.
Duration Product Used: 21+ years
Price Paid: $675.00
Purchased At: eBay/KEH
Similar Products Used: Hasselblads, Mamiya 6, Mamiya RZ67, Rolleiflex 6002, Rolleiflex 6008, Rolleiflex TLRs and Rolleicrds, Mamiya TLRs, Mamiya AF 645, Bronica ETRSi, Pentax 645 (non-AF), Exakta 66 Model II.
Type of photography: Fine Art
Submitted by jpp a Professional
Date Reviewed: January 8, 2004
Strengths: A very balanced camera.
Weaknesses: Lack of a B exposure setting.
No TTL exposure metering or flash control.
Dark slide NEEDS a home on the film back, like Mamiya system film backs.
I have just purchased a Bronica SQ-B and I am very happy with it. The weight/build quality balance is just about right for me. Any heavier and it would be impracticle in the field, yet it is suprisingly tough and sturdy feeling in the hand.
An external exposure meter is required with the SQ-B.
Price is in Pounds Sterling.
Price Paid: $575.00
Purchased At: Charles Waldron
Similar Products Used: Bronica ETRSi
Mamiya 645 Super
Type of photography: Fine Art
Submitted by another a Intermediate
Date Reviewed: September 13, 2003
Strengths: Full system offering many types of lenses, finders, backs and macro accessories. Very similar to a Hasselblad and easy to use. With so many professionals switching to digital, used equipment is very available and surprisingly inexpensive. Relatively small and light compared to some other medium format camera systems.
Weaknesses: The SQA can only do a long exposure (longer than 8 seconds) by controlling the exposure from the lens (note that every lens has it's own electronic shutter). This means that it can't be completely controlled by a cable release - the exposure is started as normal but ended by sliding a switch on the lens barrel. This can easily shake the camera unless you first cover the lens with a black hat, etc. The later SQ-Ai takes care of this problem with a "B" setting on the shutter speed dial on the camera body. Other than that, the shutter uses a relatively hard to find and expensive battery, so don't forget to pack spares.
My review is based on the SQ-A which pre-dates the SQ-Ai. As many professionals switch from medium format to digital, the price of this equipment falls to almost unbelievable prices. It will still produce high quality large negatives and transparencies for years to come without becoming obselete next month too! I bought my SQA from a wedding photographer who was switching to digital, and although well worn it works great. And it really was only $150 for the body!
Duration Product Used: 6-10 years
Price Paid: $150.00
Purchased At: ebay
Similar Products Used: I own no other medium format equipment, but somewhat familiar with Hasselblad.
Type of photography: Outdoor
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