Bronica SQ-A1

So far, my favourite medium-format camera. I currently have three lenses, the Zenzanon PS 80mm f2.8, PS 110mm Macro, PS 40mm wide-angle.  This camera is just fun to use, and gives great images, although I use a Minolta IV light meter to calculate exposures. The viewing screen is a joy to look at, and all the controls are fairly intuitive. The only negative issue I have encountered turns out to be a common one: the battery compartment door needs pushing inwards to help the battery have a firm touch with the contact points. I’ll find some way to cure this problem, but in the meantime I just gently push it inwards with my left hand, while firing the shutter with my right. It’s not a problem that will put me off using the camera.

At time of writing, 29th June, 2018, I’ve had the camera less than a month, but have managed to put five films through it, one Ilford FP4+, one Velvia, and three rolls of Kodak Portra 400.


  1. Panelled Door.

I was immediately struck by the quality of light which had landed on this rather unusual garden door, and with some Portra 400 in camera, just had to take a shot. At first I was disappointed with the outcome, as I had actually been focussing on the door. Focussing per se is not an easy thing to perfect with these cameras, and clearly I have some work to do in this area. That said, I am now entirely happy with the result. The focus is on the vegetation, and softly on the pink and grey stone. The colours are exquisitley-rendered by the Portra, and the dappled shading adds to the overall effect.



2. Deck Chairs, Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh.

A scene seemingly made for Portra 400 and 120 film. This reminds me so much of 1950s Edinburgh. I love the softness of the colours and the focus from the PS 80mm lens.


3. Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh.

This was a real test for the camera, lens, and film, but I was very pleased how they worked together to create this image. There is so much detail in the grass, yet it never overpowers – something digital cameras can fall foul of. The lack of something specific in the foreground doesn’t worry me, as it’s a mood piece. Ilford FP4+, PS 80mm lens.

4. Dead Flowers.

We like dead flowers in our house! Dried, of course. This was my first shot, I think, with the Bronica, so it must have been the 80mm lens, and FP4+. The jolly painted flowers of the vase fail to take the interest away from the dried flowers, as even in death, nature can be more beautiful than art(iffice)…

After shooting the above two films, the new lenses arrived: PS 40mm for landscapes, and PS 110mm macro for close ups.

5. Gate

Confession: I’m not a great gardener, and tend to let nature take it’s course – to the benefit of the birds and the bees, who seem very happy with my hands off approach. And it does give scenes like this, which are just asking to be photographed. Here I used the 40mm wide-angle lens on a tripod, Portra 400.

6. Tree and Fallen Branch.

Another 40mm shot. I use a Minolta IV light meter, and averaged-out the readings from the light and dark areas, which seemed to work well here.

7. Crammond Harbour, near Edinburgh.

I used some Velvia film here and in the next shot, but on reflection think it was a mistake to do so. The first shot doesn’t really get the best out of the film, and there is a pink hue to the water.

8. Crammond Harbour Again.

The Velvia really brought out the reds here, but possibly too much so. But I like the detail in what seemed a grey sky, and there is enough detail in the trees to add interest.


9. Henry Cockburn 1779 – 1854.

The 110mm macro lens is a real beauty, though hardly as macro as modern lenses, which in my opinion is a good thing. I’d call it an excellent close-up lens. This shot was taken in the Dean Cemetery, Edinburgh, at the grave of Henry Cockburn, Scottish advocate with radical leanings, and chronicler of the Scottish Enlightenment. The detail captured by the lens is incredible.

10. Distant Cousins

On the left, an archtop guitar by Frans Elferink of Holland, and on the right a theorbo by Jiri Cepelak of the Czech Republic. Portra 400, with the 40mm wide-angle lens.