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Author Topic: Why go digital when there is the Bronica GS-1 camera?  (Read 1187 times)
RobertB
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« on: May 12, 2010, 07:20:57 AM »

     For the last month or two, I've thought about getting an upgrade for my still cameras.  It all started when I walked into the local, independent camera store (yes, a few are still around), and in the used section I spied a Nikon F4 35mm film camera.  It came out about the same time as my Nikon N80 film camera; however, the F4 was the top-of-the-line camera for professionals.  I picked up this lovely F4 and tried it out.  Wow!  It was so solid, so reassuring.  It felt right and made my N80 seem like an amateur's toy.  The store wanted to sell it for $450 with standard lens, not including tax.  I thought about it for a long while, comparing prices on-line.  Yet, for all of its luster, I couldn't help but feel that for the same price, I could get more.
     I talked about the F4 at the Blockparty 2010 and at the last SCCAN meeting.  A couple of digital diehards tried to poo-poo the F4, saying that digital was the way to go.  They got to me, but not in the way they would have had me go.  Why should I get another 35mm camera when I already had one perfectly good one?  No, I would not get another 35mm camera.
     So, I went back to the old, tried-and-true axiom -- bigger is better... in film, that is.  120mm film is bigger than 35mm.  Thus, a 120mm camera would be the way to go.  I already had one - a Bronica ETRS camera.  Its 6x4.5cm negative was 2.7 times bigger than 35mm.  Back in the mid-1990's, that was my on-the-go camera before I got the more convenient Nikon N80.  It yielded fantastically-detailed pictures... when it worked.  Sometimes the shutter release just wouldn't release, even after I replaced the body and used a different back.
     What was better than a Bronica ETRS?  A Bronica that yielded a bigger image on 120mm film!  The Bronica GS-1 had a 6x7cm negative 4 times bigger than 35mm!  To match its resolution, a digital camera would have to have 60 to nearly 100 megapixels.  And so, my search began for a GS-1, a camera which first came out in 1983 and was discontinued in the early 2000's.
     None at my local camera store.  That only left mail-order vendors, like KEH, which sold used goods at retail prices, or eBay.  I focused on eBay.  Unlike years ago, the supply of GS-1s was small on eBay.  I would check about once a week, but the ones that were there were over my price limit; it had to be lower or match the price of the Nikon F4 at my local camera shop.
     A few days ago, I struck paydirt!  A seller had a complete, excellent condition GS-1 with AE finder, standard lens, and 120mm back for the starting price of $299, not including shipping.  I watched it, and when the time came, I placed my bid.  I won it at $355!  Today I phoned the seller to complete the deal.  He was an old-timer who had his own studio and was letting go of one of his GS-1s.  We had a good conversation about still photography.
     He also had a previously-listed, spare 220 back for an extra $50, and he could put that in the same package without an increase in shipping costs.  I accepted it.
     Everything arrives in a few days via FedEx.  I've been studying up on it.  All I need now is a speed winder and perhaps its OTF flash unit, and then I would be set.

          To be used at my father's honorary degree
          ceremony and the next SCCAN meeting,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://videocam.net.au/fcug
          July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.commodore.ca/forum
          and click on ComVEX
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Paul
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« Reply #1 on: May 12, 2010, 12:31:46 PM »

Nice score on a medium format.  I still have my K1000 35mm kicking around.
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"Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life." - Dogen Zenji
RobertB
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« Reply #2 on: May 12, 2010, 07:27:37 PM »

I still have my K1000 35mm kicking around.
     Smiley  My brother-in-law just got back his Olympus OM-2 back from the shop.  It had a cleaning and adjusting and a circuit installed to accept alkaline/silver batteries (instead of the old mercury batteries).

          Truly,
          Robert Bernardo
          Fresno Commodore User Group
          http://videocam.net.au/fcug
          July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.commodore.ca/forum
          and click on ComVEX
               
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RobertB
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« Reply #3 on: May 15, 2010, 08:04:00 AM »

It came out about the same time as my Nikon N80 film camera...
     A bit of clarification... I did have an "interim" cameras.  Before the Bronica ETRS, I had a Minolta 7S-II rangefinder 35mm camera.  Alas, that was stolen from my car.  And before I got the Nikon N80, I had a Nikon N65.  That one was stolen just after MossyCon 1 in 2004.  Our newest member here, PhotoJim, recommended the N80, and I'm glad I took his advice, because the N80 had a better autofocus than the N65.

              Truly,
              Robert Bernardo
              Fresno Commodore User Group
              http://videocam.net.au/fcug
              July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.commodore.ca/forum
              and click on ComVEX
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RobertB
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« Reply #4 on: May 21, 2010, 09:20:23 PM »

     I received the Bronica GS-1 on Wednesday.  Not in mint condition but excellent plus.  It also came with a few bits I did not expect -- a UV filter, a 6v camera battery, and a camera strap.  Compared to the Bronica ETRS 6x4.5, this one is quite a heavyweight (it is, after all, a direct competitor to the Hasselblad).  However, its operation seemed very similar to its smaller sibling.  In no time at all, I had its various components -- lens, back, body, and finder -- assembled to make a complete camera.  The manual focus on the lens was extra smooth, and though the screen on the finder had no split-image to help in focusing, the finder itself presented a big, fairly bright image.
     As mentioned above, the camera was excellent plus, but there was a layer of sticky dust coating the UV filter and the reflex mirror.  Hmm, nothing else was dusty.  Yesterday, I went to the local camera store and bought a 120mm roll of Kodacolor 160NC film and a microfiber cloth.  Back at my place, I carefully cleaned the filter and mirror with some cleaning solution and the cloth.  Ah, a much better image through the viewfinder.
     With the roll of film loaded, I powered up the camera and tried its controls.  The LED display in the viewfinder was a little bit high, but at least it didn't obscure the viewed image.
     Now, all I need to do is take some shots worthy of 120 film.  Well, this weekend is the Madera Air Show 2010 ( http://www.maderaairshow.com ), and I should be able to get some good pics of the planes.
     I just ordered the camera speed grip from http://www.keh.com   With the speed grip, I'd be able to hold the camera better, advance the film faster, and have a hotshoe for easily attaching a flash.  I really need that flash for fill-flash.

              Truly,
              Robert Bernardo
              Fresno Commodore User Group
              http://videocam.net.au/fcug
              July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
« Last Edit: May 21, 2010, 09:30:31 PM by RobertB » Logged
RobertB
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« Reply #5 on: May 24, 2010, 03:07:16 AM »

     Ack!  The Bronica GS-1 wouldn't fire its shutter yesterday.  Time to ask the seller questions (or look into a repair shop).

               Truly,
               Robert Bernardo
               Fresno Commodore User Group
               http://videocam.net.au/fcug
               July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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RobertB
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« Reply #6 on: May 25, 2010, 08:44:04 AM »

     Though I left a message with the seller, I continued to poke at the Bronica.  It worked!  I fired off 8 shots today, filming just stuff inside and outside the house... nothing important but good as test photos.  Perhaps it was my playing around with the mirror lock-up switch that finally got it working.
     Ah, it has that familiar 120mm SLR feel to it.  There is no instant return on the mirror, which means you have to crank it to roll to next film frame and move the mirror down.

              Truly,
              Robert Bernardo
              Fresno Commodore User Group
              http://videocam.net.au/fcug
              July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo 2010 - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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RobertB
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« Reply #7 on: June 30, 2010, 08:17:14 AM »

    Even looking at 4 x 5 prints from the Bronica, I notice the clarity and sharpness over 35mm film.

             Using the camera in my Pacific NW trip now,
             Robert Bernardo
             Fresno Commodore User Group
             http://videocam.net.au/fcug
             July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo v6 - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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Paul
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« Reply #8 on: July 01, 2010, 06:23:12 AM »

Kodak used to make a really excellent super-fine grain slide film.  If I recall, it had an ISO of 25, and was very difficult to tell the difference between it and medium format. 

I wish I could remember more about it; it'll probably come back to me.

In some respects, I miss the days of mechanical 35mm cameras.  Loading up on film before the trip, then enjoying the trip over again after getting the film processed, watching it in a darkened room on a big slide screen. 
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"Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Awaken. Take heed, do not squander your life." - Dogen Zenji
RobertB
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« Reply #9 on: July 01, 2010, 06:50:25 AM »

Kodak used to make a really excellent super-fine grain slide film.  If I recall, it had an ISO of 25, and was very difficult to tell the difference between it and medium format.
    Kodachrome 25  
Quote
In some respects, I miss the days of mechanical 35mm cameras.  Loading up on film before the trip, then enjoying the trip over again after getting the film processed, watching it in a darkened room on a big slide screen.
    My Kodak Carousel slide projector is there, ready to go.  Smiley

              Truly,
              Robert Bernardo
              Fresno Commodore User Group
              http://videocam.net.au/fcug
              July 24-25 Commodore Vegas Expo v6 - http://www.portcommodore.com/commvex
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