I thought I’d talk a little bit about one of my cameras — the Bronica SQ-a. This is a medium format film camera, which shoots on 120 roll film. There are also some available film backs supporting 220 roll film, and 35mm. It produces large, beautiful 6×6 (cm) images, and takes 12 shots per roll.
Moving to the Bronica SQ-a from the ETRS
I bought this camera used on Keh.com after my experience with the formidable Bronica ETRS. The ETRS is a very similar medium format modular reflex camera, shooting some 15-or-so 6 x 4.5 cm shots on a roll of 120. I found it to be a great camera, taking quality images. However, I was constantly frustrated by the 6 x 4.5 format, and the lack of maneuverability of the camera. Meaning…it was too hard to switch between horizontal and vertical framing of shots with so large a camera. This was especially difficult using the metering prism for the camera (I had the AE-II). The setup just didn’t work for me.
That’s where the Bronica SQ-a comes in. It’s an almost identical camera, running a bit higher price-wise. But with the square format, you get both a larger negative, and don’t have to worry about reframing with a different aspect ratio. Beyond that, I simply love the square format. Shooting in a square is a different creative exercise altogether, and something I really enjoy.
Advantages and Disadvantages
This is a big, heavy camera with equally weighty lenses. It’s bulky, but not unmanageable, and is fairly loud when firing the shutter. This camera is in no way stealthy. On the positive side, the Bronica SQ-a uses a readily available battery, and has a bright, clear viewfinder (I use the pop-up waist level viewfinder). It’s fun to shoot and takes lovely large negatives. A metering prism can be had for it, but I have discovered that I prefer shooting using the ground glass at waist level.
Is it Worth It?
I love this camera. I love the big negatives, the square format, the mechanics of it. It’s durable, affordable (looking at you Hasselblad), and reliable. But I shoot models, portraits, and some landscapes here and there. The Bronica SQ-a is totally impractical as a camera for fast action shooting like sports or kids. It’d be a tough sell as a good street photography camera as well. But within it’s power band, it’s simply perfect.
Bronica SQ-a Example Photos
Here are some of my shots with this camera.