I have a weakness for cool looking film cameras. The catch is they have to work and fit into my low budget. I have always thought the Bronica S2 line looked cool. I am a fan of 1950s cars with all of the chrome and that is exactly what this series of cameras has always reminded me of. After doing some internet research I found out that they have an interesting history and were invented to compete with the famous Hasselblad. They were kind of a technological marvel with a mirror that flips and slides down instead of up and helical mount lenses that fit farther into the camera body. The camera had removable film magazines with dark slides which allowed you to change film types by just swapping out the magazine even if you hadn’t finished the roll of film. Bronica didn’t have a lens manufacturing process so they farmed the manufacturing out to Nikon. The camera did have some focusing issues if the foam under the viewfinder glass deteriorated and the film backs could produce light leaks if their light seals were bad.
The camera that I picked up had the viewfinder foam already replaced so focusing was accurate. The two backs that I received all needed their seals replaced which I did myself. The camera is beautiful! I think it’s prettier than the Hassy but I wouldn’t turn a 500CM down if someone wanted to give me one. My copy of the S2A is a smooth operator. Some people complain about it’s wait but if you ever carried the big Mamiya cameras around the S2A is a lightweight! You can fit a body with two backs and a couple of lenses easily into a small camera bag for walking around photography. Now people also comment about how loud the mirror slap is. Yeah you wouldn’t want to use one of these in a quiet church, but out and about it’s not bad. I have run one roll of film through mine. There was still one small light leak that needed addressing. It really was a joy to carry and use. I operated it off of a tripod so that I could make sure that the focusing of the camera was accurate and check the lens sharpness. This is where my only gripe is and let me specify it’s only a gripe because I am spoiled!!! I am spoiled by the sharpness and resolution that I get off of both my Mamiya C33 and RB67 and all of their lenses. They are superb! The Bronica is also sharp but not as good as the Mamiya. If I didn’t already have experience with the Mamiya, I would be thrilled with what the Bronica produced. So take that complaint with a grain of salt. Will it prevent me from using the camera? Nope. It just won’t replace my Mamiya, but when I don’t feel like lugging those beasts around, I will grab the Bronica.
All of the shots here photographed on Kodak T-Max 400 which is quickly becoming my favorite 400 speed black and white film.