Just picked up a Bronica S2 at a flee market. Yes I did a through inspection. All seemed to work well. And the test shots came out great!! It's just a basic camera, but it puts me into a larger format(6x6). Now that I own this beautiful old tank I was wondering about it's history. Tamron(They own bronica) does not seem to have this information on their web site. The lens is 75mm f2.8. Shutter speeds are from 1/1000-B. It is preaty sweet considering I can't find one anywhere for the price I paid.
These are great cameras, but do have a problem at times with focusing at infinity. Not to worry. If yours turns out to have this problem, it is a simple fix. I have a couple of backs for mine, plus a Polaroid back, which I'm currently replacing the foam seals in. You'll find most Bronica S2 and S2a owners are extremely loyal to these cameras. They make great portrait cameras. Lenses are readily available, usually from Nikon or Komura. Nikon glass is really sharp for these cameras.
There is a site dedicated to these "tanks" as well as a group at Yahoo, both full of info on repairs and spare parts.
The S2 can suffer from gear train problems. This was corrected in the S2a. You've already noticed, no doubt, the asymmetrical winding tension which is caused by the gear train advancing the film and cocking the shutter in the same operation, and apparently some gear materials in the S2 model were prone to wear and breaking. Wind carefully and be prepared to toss the camera if it is an S2 model and the gears break. (Not a fixable problem these days.)
The Nikkor's for the S2's are real crackerjack lenses. Too bad Nikon's high costs forced them out of the second-tier lens market. These lenses actually compare well with much newer designs and if you take measures to control flare, you'll find they produce first class professional results.
One common shutter problem with the S-series cameras happens when using strobe. Switch to the sync setting on the shutter speed dial and fire a few shots then switch back to the regular shutter speeds. If your camera has this problem, it will hang up or most speed settings (especially the faster ones) will go to 1 second. Moving the shutter speed dial around and shooting on different speeds usually frees up the shutter after several cycles. This one is usually solved by a CLA.
Thanks for the info. I will get to that web site in the morning.
The gears feel preaty solid. I don't think this camera was used alot. Not alot of handling wear. Ah! so that is what that "X" is for. and was my next question. Seems I have one of the Nikor's and noticed the flare thing during my test shots. a non isue. I bought as a portrait camera to have some fun with. And it seems I will. Thanks again for the really valueble information. Now for some more reserch and photos.
Thanks for the info. I will get to that web site in the morning.
The gears feel preaty solid. I don't think this camera was used alot. Not alot of handling wear. Ah! so that is what that 'X' is for. and was my next question. Seems I have one of the Nikor's and noticed the flare thing during my test shots. a non isue. I bought as a portrait camera to have some fun with. And it seems I will. Thanks again for the really valueble information. Now for some more reserch and photos.
Wind the camera slowly and with some care and it should be OK. I think a lot of the problems came with the change from the knob to quick wind (fold out wind lever).
Old Bronica S2A cameras are awesome. Ask the man who owns one. Bought mine privately for $125 about 25 years ago. My first and only medium format wedding camera. Still going strong. Picked up a used eye level finder from KEH several years ago. That waist level finder drove me crazy, always looked like I was shooting up peoples noses, not very flattering for a bride and groom. Picked up a second film holder last year on ebay. Only service has been yearly clean and check and the mirror went out of adjustment last year. Couldn't figure out why although I focused carefully, negs were out of focus. Called Bronica and was told that all the techs who worked on those old cameras were either dead or retired. Local shop did an excellent job realigning the mirror and it works great! Came with the tack sharp 75mm f2.8 Nikkor lens. Only drawback is the 1/40 flash sync speed. Try outdoor synchro-sun in bright sunlight. I like working in the shade better anyway. I call it the Japanese Hasselblad!
More cool, well-thought-out stuff about S2-series Bronicas:
-- Method of releasing interchangeable back: Press in the dark slide, then just keep pressing it in and the back unlocks. What could be more logical? No way to release the back without the darkslide. Also note: once the back is off the camera, the darkslide is locked in place -- no risk of accidentally pulling it out and fogging the film.
-- Absolutely no worries about cocked camera vs. uncocked back or vice-versa, as on old Hasselblads. Just put on the back and try the winding knob. Anything that needs winding will get wound, anything that doesn't won't. Again, simple and logical.
-- How do you flip up the finder magnifier? Just press the front panel back slightly. The Bronica designers were geniuses at eliminating the need for separate control switches -- as with the back and the magnifier, the part you're controlling is also the 'control'!
-- Lens removes separately from focusing mount, keeping most lenses small and light. If you want, you can remove the whole focusing mount. Then (if you can find one) you can attach a bellows to the body mount. Since there's no lens focusing mount to get in the way, many lenses focus to infinity even with the bellows in place! One model of bellows offered swings and tilts, too.
-- No dark upper edge in finder field (vignetting) with very long lenses or bellows. Many medium-format cameras have this problem, because the mirror has to be kept fairly short (to clear the back of wide-angle lenses.) The Bronica's mirror, as you might have noticed, is almost the full depth of the camera throat. Yet, it can use very wide lenses without locking up mirror? How? This is so far-out you may not believe it, and it's hard to see because it operates so fast, but here's what happens when you release the shutter:
-- Mirror slides DOWN so it's lying on the floor of the camera, facing shiny-side-up! You'll notice that all four corners of the mirror have roller-tipped arms on them; these move in curved slots in body sides to guide the mirror in the proper path. The mirror is yanked down by a fabric ribbon cemented to its back; at firing, this ribbon rolls up around a roller running crossways in the bottom of the camera.
-- Having shiny mirror facing up in the bottom of the camera would cause crazy reflections, no? So, a metal flap, hinged at its bottom edge and lying just in front of the shutter curtains, lies down on top of the mirror to block it. There's no separate linkage to control this flap -- it's just lightly spring-loaded and normally is pressed back by the top edge of the main mirror; when the mirror lies down, the spring-loading flips down the flap on top of it.
-- Now the only problem is the focusing screen above the camera throat. On most SLRs, the mirror flips up and covers this; with a down-sliding mirror, it's wide open to let light fog your film. So, there's a little fabric 'window shade' on a roller running crossways at the TOP front edge of the mirror box; when the mirror lies down, two cords attached to its upper corners and running around pulleys unroll this 'window shade' so it covers the finder opening. After exposure, as the mirror slides back up, the curtain winds back up on its spring-loaded roller.
Whew! The amazing thing is that all this flipping, rolling, fabric-corded stuff is actually pretty reliable, as well as being ingenious to the point of near lunacy. Remember, it was all done so you could have a deep instant-return mirror and no finder cutoff. About the only problem is the prolonged racket when an S2 shutter fires (detonates? erupts?) But dontcha love it anyway???