Sunday, March 24, 2013

Bronica ETRs

The Bronica ETRs Medium Format Single-Lens Reflex 120 roll film photographic system.

About 2 years ago I purchased a Bronica ETRs 120 SLR from a professional wedding photographer who was hanging up his gear, and moving on to just hobbyist type of photography instead.
Well, knowing it was well cared for, and would be in excellent shape, I bit and bought it.  One of my biggest camera purchases, as it was solely intended on being used for my portrait work instead of my hobbyist work.  Needless to say, it migrated out of studio and into the field for just shooting whatever with.
As I have come to know this camera, I have learned that there are many advantages to it, and some disadvantages.  The biggest disadvantage with this camera, aside from the bulky design, is the viewfinder blackout, and lack of mirror return.  As I'm used to the Exakta and Contaflex SLR cameras, this is not an issue for me, but was rather disconcerting the first time I had used this camera, and wasn't used to a non-returning mirror.
The other disadvantage is the location of the shutter release button.  I'm not quite sure why it is in the location that it is, but it's a little out of the way, and honestly, it's also very easy to accidentally press when you pick it up.
And lastly, the shutter is a 1/500s leaf shutter.  It does have other speeds, like 8s to 1/500s +T, nope.  No BULB mode!  The T is a real PITA to use, as you have to slide a little lever on the lens to set it.  As with such, you also have to have a battery for the shutter to operate at any other speed but 1/500s.  This draw back is easily noticed in cold weather, as the cold will cause the battery to seemingly drain rapidly as it gets colder, and colder.
But those are all issues that are easily over come.  The advantages to this camera are many!  Larger negatives/transparencies.  Beautiful clean, sharp, and easy to see viewfinder, whether you are using the PRISM or the WLF it is very easy to focus with.  The 645 frame size is wonderful for landscapes or portraits!
Although I haven't used it much for landscape work, it has proven itself to be a very versatile camera! Spending most of its time on a shelf or being used in studio, I intend on taking it out for outdoor work, and on location shoots.  The camera spent much of its life as a Wedding Camera, so I don't see why it can't spend its time as another portrait camera.
15 frames per roll make it the right amount of frames for a portrait session.  Not too many, and not too few.  Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with 6x6 or 6x7 (or even 6x9), but 645 is a great size and gives you just the right amount of frames.
Having said that, of course, I don't quite understand what happened to frame #16 with this camera, as a 120 roll of film using the 645 frame size should get 16 frames, but Mamiya and Zenza both only let you shoot 15 frames, which is very odd.  Nonetheless, the quality of the lenses, and the camera, truly make up for the loss of a single frame, in spades!
With only a couple of lenses, the 75mm PE and 150mm MC, I have the two main focal lengths covered.  Thing is I would love to get more than just these two lenses.  I want to be able to do better, wider, landscapes, and would love to one day get my hands on the 40mm, but just isn't feasible at the moment.  The other lens is the 100-200mm zoom, which is a beautiful lens.
But unfortunately, it'll have to wait.

For me, the Bronica was a camera I wanted.  I definitely wanted this camera, and had been looking for one for a while. Originally it was a Bronica SQ-AI that I was looking for, but changed my mind quickly when I saw this one.
Sure, the SQ is a great system, and 6x6 frame size would be perfect, plus the Nikkor lenses.  But I was after a system that was a little different.  Not a Mamiya, or a Pentax, so I went with Zenza.
The 645 frame size is the size I also wanted to go with so I could squeeze in a couple more frames per roll, and I am very happy I went with this system.

So if you're in the market for a Medium Format camera, want something economical, yet still classified as a professional camera that has been used, and is still being used, by wedding and portrait photographers around the world?
You can't go wrong with a Bronica ETRs system.

Zenza Bronica ETRs Single-Lens Reflex
8s - 1/500s Seiko leaf shutter (1/500s only without battery PX28)
15 frames on 120 film (60mm x 45mm)
Double Exposure Protection w/Over-ride
PC-Sync Port X-Synced at all speeds

Accessories you can get (some of)
Non-AE Prism
Waist Level Finder
Speed Grip
Power Grip with Motor Drive
MACRO Bellows
120 Back/220 Back
Polaroid Back

And probably more.

Until next time, keep those shutters firing!

Governor's Room - CNE Grounds

Children Portraits...

The Tale of Kitty

Watching The Ducks

Cabin In The Woods - Explored May 25 - 2012

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Argus - The C3 Brick!

Manufactured in 1939 after the Argus C (a non-coupled rangefinder camera), and well into the 60's when sales slumped dramatically with the dated and clumsy design, and not to mention the introduction to cheaper and high quality Japanese rangefinders, like the Yashica Electro variety of Rangefinders.
The C3 had a typical era rangefinder, which was a military style split rangefinder instead of the usual image on image type found on other Rangefinders, like Leica, Canon, Nikon, etc.
But it also had the same thing that Leica and Canon had to offer.  Interchangeable lenses.  The lens could be unscrewed (although this was a four step process).
The lenses on the Argus, though, are very good.  The 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar is a basic triplet design, but is remarkably sharp.  The aperture blades are circular and give some excellent out of focus distortion, and a smooth transition    Not to mention some decent Bokeh.
The design of the C3 gave it its nickname.  The Brick.
The "brick-like" shape not only defined the camera, but was one of its many charms.  The camera was durable, robust, but ultimately, it was heavy!  Weighing in at almost 760g it is a very heavy camera, and becomes tougher to hold after long periods of time.  In fact, it's the same weight as my Canon FTb.  That's almost 2lbs of camera!
The simple design, and simple ergonomics of this camera lead it to be one of the most popular cameras of the time, and considering it ran for almost 3 decades as one of the top selling rangefinders, that made it one very successful camera.
The lens on this camera, the 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar is a very sharp and quite contrasty triplet lens.  The lens is very easy to clean, and even comes apart exceptionally easy.

The camera itself, although heavy in hand, is actually not too difficult to use.  Just focus using one viewfinder (the Rangefinder) window, then a quick move of the eye, and you can compose and take the photo.  Sure, it's not the easiest method to shooting, but it works.  It makes shooting action scenes a little difficult, especially if you are using a wide-open aperture on the lens.

Film advancing is fairly painless, unless you forget to release the frame advance lock.  Then you can turn the WIND knob all you'd like.  It won't budge!  (or at least it isn't supposed to)..
Loading the film is easily accomplished, and taking photos is really straight forward.  Just remember to move your finger off and away from the cocking lever.  I've had the shutter get stuck open a few times because I forget to move my finger away from the lever.

But, for sample images, this camera doesn't disappoint!

Basic Quick Specs;

  • Argys C3 35mm Rangefinder
  • Split-image style Rangefinder in difference viewfinder
  • Interchangeable lens
    Standard 50mm ƒ.3.5 Coated Cintar is attached
  • 1/10s to 1/300s +Bulb
  • 41mm slip-on filter size
  • M/F synced at all shutter speeds
  • Three Bladed manually set Leaf-Shutter
  • 759g with 50mm ƒ/3.5 Coated Cintar & no film.
Until next time, keep those shutters firing!

Friday, March 1, 2013

Kalimar A In Depth Look

In the early 50's, Tasei Koki Corporation released this funky little 35mm Viewfinder camera known as the Kalimar A.  Under multiple badges, like the Welmy M2, and the Westomat 35.
Using a triplet 45mm ƒ/3.5 lens, single coated, and called a Terionon lens.

The focusing system is done by scale and guess focusing.  For those that aren't familiar with Scale Focusing, it is a great system that will teach you how depth of field works in  conjunction with focus and aperture.  I would highly recommend beginning photographers to get their hands on a camera similar to this to learn how to understand the relationship to the lens ƒ/stop and getting more, or less, depth into their photographs. Scale focusing is a very good way to learning some simple basics in photography, whether digital, or on film.
The weakest point of the lens on this camera is that it vignettes a fair bit.  But in truth, I more feel that it's a charm of this little camera more than anything else.  I don't mind the vignette at all, and find it really gives the photos a different dynamic.  Of course, it could, per chance, just be my particular model.
The shutter is a very simple 4-speed shutter, ranging from (using the old school of shutter speeds) 1/25s, 1/50s, 1/100s, and 1/200s + Bulb.  It uses a 5-bladed shutter which is X-synced at all speeds, and yes, the Sync does work with an electronic flash, as I have done. I have also used flash bulbs at 1/25s.  The shutter release is threaded for a cable release for BULB exposures.  There is no self timer on this camera, so use of a long cable release, or an accessory self-timer will be required.
The cold-shoe allows the attachment of a flash, or accessory shoe rangefinder.
The frame counter is a simple dial type that clicks down frame by frame telling you how many frames you have left.

I have used this camera with B&W, C-41, and E6 films with excellent results.  In fact, I honestly don't think there is any film type you couldn't use in this camera, including Kodachrome.  Err, of course, that would mean you could get it properly processed still, but of course, you can't.
It is a great camera to use, is compact, light weight, and is a great treat to use.

If you happen to come across one of these cameras, pick it up.  You won't be sorry, and it'll make a very lovely addition to your collection, even if you happen to just keep it on the shelf.

A quick gallery on photos taken on the Kalimar A;

Until next time, keep those shutters firing!