Zenza Bronica ETRS body - now what?!

Discussion in 'Medium Format & Large Format' started by ggenis, Mar 9, 2017.

  1. ggenis

    ggenis TPF Noob!

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    Hi!

    I received the body of a Zenza Bronica ETRS from a pro photographer friend, and wanted to know what the best way is to proceed from this point forward.

    To be clear, I only have the body and stock flip up viewfinder. I am aware that at the very least I would need a film back, and a lense to get it operational.

    I've been doing some research and have found film backs ranging from $70 to $300, and varying from 35mm to 70mm film.

    What would be the best option for someone who is not a pro photographer but rather a photo enthusiast who is interested in getting this beauty up and running?

    I'm not looking to spend $500 on getting it working, but I also don't want to end up with something that will be outperformed by an Instax Mini 8 - youknowhatimsayin'?

    Thanks in advance
    Gerrit Genis


     
  2. fmw

    fmw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    The standard back would be for 120/220 film. A normal lens would be in the area of 75 or 80mm. The lenses are made by Nikon. It is a fine camera.
     
  3. Dave Colangelo

    Dave Colangelo No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Welcome to the medium format world!

    Check out the Medium Format Film sub forum for more info on this stuff but generally speaking

    You are going to want a 120 format back. The 35mm backs were made for shooting film stock you had lying around but dont really take advantage of the great parts of medium format You will get a portrait mode camera (I think it loads vertically) and you will need a view screen with the proper crop lines. 120 film is a 12 or 15 exposure roll with a paper backing. It is considered the standard medium format film. 220 film a 24 exposure roll that is the same film stock as 120 but lacks the backing paper so you can wind twice as much film on the spool. 220 film is as far as I know pretty much (if not officially) retired. You can get plenty of new 120 film out there from the big makers. 70mm film is similar to 120 however it is notched on the side and generally came in large spools. The 70mm backs take a 15ft roll that gives you 90 exposures. FWIW you can still get 70mm film in large rolls but few shoot this as its a bit impractical and you will need to find a place that will process it for you. The back prices generally reflect their utility. Getting a few backs will allow you to change rolls mid roll which is cool. Practically the 120 back is the one that is worth getting, if you are patient on ebay you will get one at a good price.

    In medium format 80mm is the standard "Normal" lens. They are good all around and a good place to start. 150 is a nice portrait lens, as is a 250. Practically speaking 350-500 gets you into the unwieldy size stuff but can take some interesting photos if you can find a good example of the lens you dont really need these in your collection though. 50mm provides a good wide lens that is practical to use. I have not yet toyed with anything lower than a 50mm but I find the 50 to be more than wide enough.

    Im quite partial to the flip up view finders but to each his own on that one. The eye piece ones can be nice when its super bright out and you need to block ambient light.

    I would shoot some rolls, have the processed and look for light leaks. Depending on how long the camera sat, the condition of the seals and the fluidity of the oil it may need some work. Unlike modern digital stuff these era cameras were made to be fixed. At minimum I would expect to get a CLA (clean, lube, adjust) done to really get it back into top shape. If the camera was routinely used you may be ok as it sits.

    If you have questions feel free to give me shout.

    Regards
    Dave
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2017
  4. ashleykaryl

    ashleykaryl TPF Noob!

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    My first medium format camera was the bigger Bronica SQA, but the ETRS was a respectable camera. A quick search eBay shows you can pick up a camera with 2-3 lenses for around $500, but you would really want to check for general condition and any mechanical issues.

    In terms of quality there is nothing wrong with the lenses, so you would just need the right film that is properly scanned. If you are pixel peeping on a display the results will show more noise than a modern digital camera, but in print they can still look pretty fantastic.

    The Bronica was often the chosen workhorse of wedding photographers as a cheaper alternative to Hasselblad, but as a consequence many have been worked very hard.
     
  5. cgw

    cgw No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    Nice modular camera system that sold well over several models, which means lots of lenses, film backs, and viewfinders. Get a 120 back that will give you 15 shots/roll; 220 backs are cheaper simply because there's far less selection in 220 film. I'd look around for a non-metered prism finder. This is a 645, rectangular format camera that can be shot landscape or portrait orientation simply by turning the camera. This makes using a waist-level finder awkward.The standard lens for the Bronica 645 is a 75/2.8. The winder grip greatly improves this camera's handling. Nikon only made lenses for the earlier, all-mechanical , focal plane shutter 6x6 Bronicas.

    Manual available here:

    Zenza Bronica ETRS / ETRC instruction manual, free user manual, PDF manual

    Budget a few bucks for a light meter, too. You'll need it.
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2017
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  6. CarlH

    CarlH TPF Supporters Supporting Member

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    If you do download the manual from butkus.com do try and make a donation, he has a very large selection of manuals for just about every type of camera you could think of, if not the exact model you need, something close enough so you can get using your 'new' camera, a resource we need to help support.
     
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  7. john.margetts

    john.margetts No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    A couple of corrections.

    The ETRs gives 15 exposures on a roll of 120 film, not 12.
    Each frame is nominally 60mm by 45mm (actually slightly smaller) and will be in landscape format, not portrait.
    The 'normal' lens is 75mm.
     
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  8. Michael Mc

    Michael Mc TPF Noob!

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    Well, John mentioned one of my corrections, namely that the ETRS is a landscape mode camera, although the film does load vertically. Another correction is that the ETR lenses are all made by Bronica -- they are all Zenza lenses. The Nikkors were made for the older S/S2/S2a and EC/EC-TL 6x6 cameras.

    For a basic "kit" I recommend the following:

    at least one 120 back. There's not much point in 220 backs anymore. The later backs are definitely better than the earlier ones. They're pretty easy to distinguish. The later backs have two latches that secure the back from popping open. The earlier ones have only a single latch. The latest Ei backs are preferred, but the generation before are also good backs. I have both and I don't see much difference between the two. Main difference is the EI back's dark slide is captive when the back is off the camera, that is, it can't be removed. The EI back's dark slide has a gray handle, earlier ones are black. Be sure to get inserts with your backs. It is actually the insert that determines 120 or 220.

    Start off with the 75mm lens. For a basic three-lens kit, you'll probably want to add a 150mm and either a 50mm or 40mm wide angle (28mm and 24mm equivalent focal lengths in 35mm, respectively).

    A meterless prism finder is a low-cost accessory and well worth getting, in my opinion. If you're willing to spend a bit more, the AE-II prism is a good one -- it converts the ETRS to an aperture-priority camera, when set to the "A" setting. It will also do manual exposure. The AE-III prism is much nicer, but also much more expensive.

    One item I consider to be a basic requirement for your kit is the Speed Grip E. This grip has a manual, two-stroke film wind crank and is designed so that the camera can remain at the eye while the crank is being wound on. Strongly recommended. Fortunately, these grips are pretty cheap -- $40 to $45 on eBay typically.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2017

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