Earlier today, I said I’d picked up a Bronica SQ-B, where B purportedly stands for Basic. Yes, indeed this is a basic medium format camera. But it doesn’t lack anything essential. Sure, you can’t put a metered prism on here even if you wanted to, but that’s okay by me. I didn’t want to. I have a Sekonic L-398 light meter that I prefer to use for the kinds of shots I’m taking with this camera.
It’s a lot more clumsy than my well executed Mamiya 645 Pro TL, a camera I think is totally underrated. Everything makes sense on the Mamiya.
For example, the film back is short of goofy on the Bronica. It works, but sorting out how to eject a used roll took me a minute to figure out and was less than intuitive. The Mamiya has it beat there for sure.
The rest of this camera is so easy to use. The big shutter speed rotation knob is very easy to read and set. The aperture ring on the 80mm f2.8 lens allows for 1/2 stop increments, something I made use of today as my Sekonic gave me a reading in half stop position.
The thing about waist-level finders and through-the-lens viewing takes some getting used to, and quite frankly after 12 shots, I’m not there yet. I realize just how spoiled I’ve been with my Mamiya metered prism. That said, the magnifier is a great thing to have for portraits, my primary intent for this camera. I’ll leave candids and action shooting to my Mamiya and my Nikon D600 DSLR.
I’ve been using Ilfotec-HC (high-concentrate) for about 10 rolls now, and it is fast becoming my favorite developer. It’s tricky to measure just right, especially with small 1/2 litre mixes. It’s something I’ll address soon with a medical graduated syringe instead of using the graduated cylinder, which is too big. That aside, the results are always what I want.
I’ve taken to measuring the temperature for my B&W film now as well. I used to just leave water sitting for a bit at room temps, but lately, wintertime has meant the laundry room is often 18C instead of the target 20C. I use a digital kitchen thermometer, set for Celcius.
Some days I can thread on the film onto the Paterson spool swiftly and today was one of those days. Other days, I’ve stood in the dark storage room under the front steps for what seems like hours trying to get the film to catch. Other days, like today, it goes off without any issues. Go figure.
My DIY film washer is working out really well and I’m happy with how clean the negatives are coming out. I dry the negatives by hanging them in the downstairs bathroom shower. I use bulldog clips top and bottom.
I’m looking forward to taking more photos with this wonderfully affordable 6×6 camera using Fuji’s ultra-smooth and high-tonal range Acros 100 ISO film. I have a few rolls in the fridge waiting for me.