The Bronica SQ series is a line of 6x6 medium format SLR camera system introduced in 1980. Production of the last Bronica SQ-Ai model (including lenses and accessories) finished at the end of September 2003, with sales continuing until inventories were depleted.
Similar to the 6x4.5 based ETR series that came before it, the SQ uses a leaf shutter based lens design. They are not compatible with the older series of focal plane shutter cameras. The lens system has a Seiko manufactured electronic shutter with speed of 8 sec. to 1/500 sec. plus T with the focusing helicode built-in to each lens. The sync connector is located on the front of the camera by the lens mount. Since it's a leaf shutter based camera system, flash sync is available at all speeds.
An interchangeable back system was incorporated that has the ability to use 120 or 220 (12 / 24 ) exposure film backs. The backs contain a ISO speed dial setting that is coupled to metered finders. Since the body and back need to be synchronized, make sure to wind the film crank completely before attaching the back. The film back also contains a crank, useful for setting the film start index. The main film crank can be removed to attach a winder or speed grip. The shutter release button can be locked with a twist of the collar to prevent mistaken exposures. The film back adopted some of the dark slide features of previous models. The camera will release the back when the dark slide is inserted and release button pressed.
The shutter cannot be released with the dark slide inserted. Unlike the older Bronica models, when the film back is detached from the body the dark slide can still be removed. The shutter cannot be cocked without film, but use of multi-exposure mode will enable you to cock it and test fire the shutter. The lens cannot be removed or attached without cocking the shutter. A red LED will illuminate in the viewfinder during shutter fire. The light will go out when the shutter fire has completed. Observe that the cocking pin colour is green on both the lens and body before attaching or removing the lens. If they are not, manually cock the shutter on the lens or body.
A battery check button is located by the shutter knob along with a cable release socket. The camera is powered by one 6V PX28A battery located in a compartment at the base of the camera. A 1/4 inch tripod socket as well as a flash sync connector for accessories are also on the base.
In 1982 the SQ-A was released with mirror lockup and a new view finder system now supporting auto exposure. The newer AE finders are not fully compatible with the older SQ cameras, they are unable to mount properly because there are now more electronic connector pins. The film back dark slides are now locked when not attached to the camera. The new dark slides are now grey in color.
Introduced in January 1983, the SQ-Am is an "integrated motor-drive only" version SQ-A body (in other words, the SQ-Am has no manual film advance). Up to this date installing the accessory motor drive to the SQ series of Bronicas was a tricky and somewhat unreliable process. To make a reliable motor-driven SQ, therefore, the motor was incorporated into the body of the SQ-Am. The SQ-Am uses six AA batteries to drive the motor, in addition to the a small 6 volt battery to power the camera's shutter and meter. The drive runs at two frames every three seconds, with the batteries lasting for approximately 60 rolls of 120 film.
The SQ-Ai was a slightly updated SQ-A, announced at the 1990 Photokina, with availability in the US from early 1991. The camera has the ability to use a motor drive. The drive is specifically for the Ai and does not function properly with other SQ models. Also OTF metering is possible. TTL automatic flash requires the use of the SCA connector located on the shutter side of the body for attachment to a SCA flash adapters. When multiple exposure mode is enabled, the right of the viewfinder now displays an square indicator. A longer shutter speed of 16 seconds is added to the body, along with a traditional bulb mode shutter setting instead of just T, but it drains battery power while in use. The 16 second and bulb modes does not work with the ME or MF finders. This camera switches to 4x LR44 batteries that are held by a battery holder. The backs changed slightly, with the ISO dial on the back instead of the top. This makes it much easier to view and change the ISO settings with larger finders. The ISO has increased and can go up to ISO 6400. Exposure compensation is also on the newer (SQ-i) backs. It allows adjustment of up to 2 EV in 1/3 increments.
The SQ-B is a simplified version of the SQ-A. It is sometimes called SQ Basic. It was made in 1996, making it the newest camera in the SQ line. The main difference with the B model is when mounted the light metering functions in prism finders are not functional. The film back also lacks the ISO dial; since a dial does not serve a purpose of coupling to the meter which will not function. The often bundled lens 80mm PS/B lens does not have a T mode. The T mode will function on lenses equipped as such. Does not have bulb mode, since the SQ-A did not have it either. The motor drive accessory also will not function with this camera.
image by Aaron Oxborrow (Image rights)
|SQ-A and SQ-B crank side view|
image by Aaron Oxborrow (Image rights)
|SQ-A top WLF view|
image by csobie (Image rights)
|image by Martin Taylor (Image rights)|
See Bronica lenses for a list.
A lens- or leaf-shutter camera, the SQ-series will synchronize flash at all available shutter speeds. Lenses are designated 'S' and 'PS'.
|Lens||Lens construction||Filter diameter||Overall length||Minimum focusing distance||Weight|
|Zenzanon-PS 35mm F3.5 Fisheye||11 elements in 8 groups||32.5mm (rear filter)||91mm||0.28m||960g|
|Zenzanon-S 40mm F4||11 elements in 8 groups||95mm||83mm||0.4m||660g|
|Zenzanon-PS 40mm F4||11 elements in 8 groups||95mm||67.5mm||0.4m||650g|
|Zenzanon-S 50mm F3.5||10 elements in 8 groups||67mm||62mm||0.5m||560g|
|Zenzanon-PS 50mm F3.5||10 elements in 8 groups||77mm||61.7mm||0.5m||590g|
|Zenzanon-PS 65mm F4||9 elements in 7 groups||67mm||69.6mm||0.6m||665g|
|Zenzanon-S 80mm F2.8||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||52mm||0.8m||470g|
|Zenzanon-PS 80mm F2.8||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||52mm||0.8m||490g|
|Zenzanon-S 105mm F3.5||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||60mm||0.85m||540g|
|Zenzanon-PS Macro 110mm F4||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||79mm||0.66m||685g|
|Zenzanon-PS 135mm F4||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||79mm||1m||755g|
|Zenzanon-S 150mm F3.5||5 elements in 5 groups||67mm||61mm||1.5m||590g|
|Zenzanon-PS 150mm F4||6 elements in 4 groups||67mm||74mm||1.5m||750g|
|Zenzanon-PS 180mm F4.5||9 elements in 8 groups||67mm||96mm||1m||865g|
|Zenzanon-S 200mm F4.5||5 elements in 5 groups||67mm||97mm||2.5m||740g|
|Zenzanon-PS 200mm F4.5||7 elements in 5 groups||67mm||107mm||2.5m||870g|
|Zenzanon-S 250mm F5.6||5 elements in 5 groups||67mm||129mm||3m||870g|
|Zenzanon-PS 250mm F5.6||7 elements in 5 groups||67mm||150.2mm||3m||1010g|
|Zenzanon-S 500mm F8||7 elements in 6 groups||95mm||255mm||8.5m||1890g|
|Zenzanon-PS 500mm F8||11 elements in 10 groups||122mm||307.5mm||8m||3760g|
|Zenzanon-PS 50-100mm F4-5.6 Aspherical||12 elements in 10 groups||95mm||102.5mm||1.5m||1010g|
|Zenzanon-S Variogon 75-150mm F4.5||15 elements in 13 groups||93mm||152mm||1.8m||1800g|
|Zenzanon-S Variogon 140-280mm F5.6||17 elements in 14 groups||93mm||221mm||2.5m||2000g|
|Speeds||8s - 1/500||8s - 1/500||8s - 1/500||16s - 1/500 + B||8s - 1/500|
|Power||1x PX28||1x PX28||1x PX28, 6x AA||4x SR44||1x PX28|
|CdS MM prism||O||X||X||X||X|
|Cds MF chimney||O||X||X||X||X|
O: works X: not work O-: no 16s or B mode OX:mount no meter
- Lewis, Gordon, ed. The History of the Japanese Camera. Rochester, N.Y.: George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography & Film, 1991. ISBN 0-935398-17-1 (paper), 0-935398-16-3 (hard). Pp.160 and 169.
- McKeown, James M. and Joan C. McKeown's Price Guide to Antique and Classic Cameras, 12th Edition, 2005-2006. USA, Centennial Photo Service, 2004. ISBN 0-931838-40-1 (hardcover). ISBN 0-931838-41-X (softcover). Pp.159–62.
- End of Bronica production message from Tamron
- PHOTOGRAPHIC INDUSTRIES vol. 41 no. 9 '83 p. 77
- Popular Photography, January 1991 p. 54
In English: Manuals
- Bronica SQ Camera Manuals (SQ-A, SQ-Am) at Photo-Manuals.com
- Bronica manual for SQ / / SQ-A / / SQ-Am / / SQ-Ai / / SQ-B at Mike Butkus' Orphan Cameras
- Flickr: BRONICA SQ-AM SOCIETY