A Love Letter to the Bronica ETRs: A Beautiful Camera

Do you remember your first medium format camera? If you’ve never had a medium format camera that shoots film, I recommend that you get to eBay and go hunting. They’re a magical experience. Anyone who says they don’t ever need to shoot film is clueless. It’s synonymous to a coming-of-age experience that teaches you and helps you evolve into a new person. After all, no one stays in that post-college stage of their life for long. (If they do, people around them tend to end up leaving.) Photographers have to grow. And perhaps more than any other camera I’ve used, the Bronica ETRs taught me precisely this lesson. 

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Brock Saddler Shows You How to Hack the Bronica ETRS to Shoot Fujifilm Instax Mini Film

“Not for the Bronica unfortunately, unless you could possibly bring the tripod mount into it, rigging something to the back to hold it in place,” says photographer Brock Saddler (follow him on Instagram) about his Bronica ETRS hack when I asked him about whether or not he’d still need to use the rubber bands. “…something for the next person to think about.” Brock is amongst the many photographers and hackers we’ve interviewed here on the Phoblographer. His hack specifically has to do with the Bronica ETRS. Last year, we interviewed him about hacking his Bronica ETRS to shoot Fujifilm Instax mini film and he was still in the process of refining it. But he got really close to making it absolutely perfect.

Brock, unfortunately, has no plans to make it commercially viable. “This was just something to do on a rainy day,” he tells us. And to that end, he’s given us permission to share his post on how he did it.

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Vintage Camera Review: Bronica ETRS

All images and review by Edward Inzauto.

Just like the pros, getting “that full-frame look” is a growing desire among enthusiast amateur photographers. The topic is a trend in gear-obsessive online discussion and a bug in the brains of those who feel that only a larger sensor will allow them to fully express their creative visions. And while many have taken advantage of the fact that buying into the full-frame DSLR and mirrorless camera market is less expensive than ever, still others will find that the upfront cost of a modern full-frame camera body and compatible lenses is still a significant and insurmountable barrier to entry.

But what if you could go bigger than full-frame — even-fuller-frame, per se — for significantly less money? Well, my friend, you absolutely can. The solution you’re looking for is medium format film, and one fine entry-level option for exposing that timeless, removable, chemical “sensor” technology is the Zenza Bronica ETR line of cameras.

Editor’s Note: All processing was kindly done by the Lomography Gallery store here in NYC. You should check out all the services that they can do.

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Hacking a Bronica ETRS to Shoot Fujifilm Instax Film

All images by Brock Saddler. Used with permission.

“It’s really wonderful.” says photographer Brock Saddler about the image quality involved with his recent hacking of an Instax Mini back with his Bronica ETRS. “The sharpness and depth of field produced by real lenses on the stock is amazing and the ability to have shutter and aperture control from the body is another win.” Brock isn’t much of a person to talk about himself, and so he told us to make something up!

Photographer Brock Saddler started slaying dragons at the wee age of four years old. He continued to do this until one day his father gave him a camera. “With this tool, you will capture the hearts of everyone in the land!” he said to Brock.

And that’s how Brock didn’t really get into photography.

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Tamron, This Is the Best Time to Resurrect Bronica

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Dearest Tamron,

You’ve made some of the biggest strides of any lens manufacturer. Congratulations. You should be proud. In some eyes, you’re overshadowed by the swath of products Sigma has. But you’ve got loads of fully weather-sealed and small lenses for incredibly affordable prices. No one else has that. You provide value in a market for passionate photographers. It’s time you let your wings spread and embrace your history. There is no better time than now to bring back the Bronica brand.

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Inside Work in Process: Australia’s Latest Analog Film Lab

Ever wanted to build your own darkroom or even dreamed of opening your own film lab? You might want to take notes from our guy Brock Saddler.

It’s been a while since we last touched base with Brock Saddler, the Australia-based photographer who showed us how to hack the Bronica ETRS to shoot Fujifilm Instax Mini Film. While he hasn’t been successful yet in creating a seamless version of this project, he was actually busy with something else: his own film developing lab. It was something that was always in his mind, and he was happy to report that he was finally able to set it up and get it running for the past 8 months.

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How to Make Images from An APS-C or Four Thirds Sensor Look Like Full Frame

Take a look at the lead image for this story: what do you think it was shot with? It’s a photo I use often here on the site. That photograph was shot with Kodak Portra with a Bronica ETRS. No editing was done. It looks like it could have been done with a modern full frame camera or some other digital camera, right? To be honest, I could have done it with 35mm, Micro Four Thirds, APS-C, etc. What really mattered was the lighting and the situation because the further truth is that the laws of exposure don’t change.

Here’s the absolute truth about sensor sizes and image quality: in the hands of a photographer that sits there and uses a camera for what it is, the camera will produce fantastic images. All dedicated cameras these days produce more than good enough image quality, but they all require you to do certain things to make their peak image quality really come out. The results from an APS-C sensor or a Four Thirds sensor can all product jaw dropping images.

The secret: it’s in you. The laws of exposure don’t change; but you should have an understanding of how the rules of depth of field, contrast, and colors interact with one another.

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Mercury Camera Promises a Truly Universal System

Ever wanted to use your medium format Hasselblad lenses with your Bronica ETRS or something along the lines? Well a new Kickstarter called Mercury Camera wants to do something just like that. But it wants to go even further and let you adapt nearly any 35mm, medium format or large format lens with pretty much any negative or instant film back. To boot, you can also adapt any medium format digital camera back.

Just imagine the possibilities!

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Garrett Graham: American Graffiti in Cuba

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This is a syndicated blog post from Garrett Graham. It and the photos in this post are used with permission.

Havana Is a colorful and beautiful place. You can’t go two blocks without finding a live band playing salsa music or a cobblestone plaza built in the 1800s. Needless to say the city and people photograph beautifully.

The country has a foot in both the present and the past, so I decided to channel that past and only bring a film camera. Call me hipster or whatever you’d like, but I felt the right camera to bring was my Bronica ETRS. I left my SD cards and Canon at home and this is what I brought back.

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How Fabrice Ducouret Does Double Exposures Without Photoshop

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My name is Fabrice Ducouret. I’m a French photographer living in California. I’ve been shooting film since I was a teenager and have a real passion for it. I’ve always found the process of shooting with film much more natural and in tune with my personality and interests than digital. I dabbled for a few years and then decided to become more serious and produced a lot of street photography. I was living in Paris, and there were many occasions to capture the life of this exceptional city. I used to use a lot of sub-miniature cameras, such as the Olympus Pen EE and the Minolta SLR 110.

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James Henderson Creates “Featherscapes” Using Beautiful Bird Feathers

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My name is James Henderson. Feathers are seen by everybody, but not many people stop to look at them. Children prize them when they find them in the garden or on the street, and many adults will stop for a quick look. But how many of us really look? As Mary Poppins says, “When will you learn to look past what you see?” Using a macro lens lets us get a vantage point that we don’t generally get. It’s a chance to appreciate the shape, color, texture, and “life events” of the feather. Sometimes the prints are seen and thought they are pure abstract art. So often, when people think about macro photography, they think about pictures of bugs. I don’t do bug photography. Humans simply aren’t accustomed to seeing feathers in that scale or that close. Also, not many people do focus stacking, so that opens up some enhanced abilities for depth.

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Get Them Tones Perfect! The Best Film for Portrait Photography

There’s something wonderful about the way that film renders skin tones.

When you shoot portraits with film, you’re expecting a specific look. This is so yearned for that there are digital presets created to emulate the look. But it’s never quite the same thing. Shooting with film is a lot more involved. But the extra work you do is always worth it. The reward is something worth bragging over. So we dove into our Reviews Index to find some of the best film for portrait photography. Take a look at our favorites!

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Do You Love it? Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR Review

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If you had the Fujifilm GF 30mm f3.5 R WR, would you love it? Would you even like it? That’s a question I was asking myself the entire time. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with the GF format for a while. I’ve always felt they needed faster aperture lenses. And if they wanted to keep things small, I believe they should go collapsible. But this lens feels incredibly sterile and perfect. It’s not the Fujifilm that I’m very used to using. Personally speaking, I’m not sure I’m in love with it. But if you like clinical sterility, you might be.

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The Phoblographer’s Guide to the 6 Best Film Cameras for a Beginner

If you truly want your images to look like film, why not shoot with the genuine article? These cameras are perfect options to help you get started!

It should come as no surprise to long time readers of The Phoblographer that we’re quite fond of shooting with film. Astronomical megapickle counts are all the rage these days. Improvements in computational photography are helping smartphone cameras punch well above their weight as well. Despite these technological advancements, however, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about loading a roll of your favorite emulsion into a film camera and actually going out to shoot. There’s nothing quite like the magical quality of the clicking of an analog camera’s shutter or the cranking of the film advance lever. Maybe it’s the mechanical nature of it all, or perhaps we’re just nostalgic.

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The Guide to 100 Speed Black and White Films

In the past couple of years, film emulsions have been experiencing a bit of a revamp. Some have disappeared while others have been either resurrected or created. With that in mind, it’s time for a brand new guide to these emulsions.

In this guide I will be comparing every 100 (ish) speed, black and white film which is actively being produced and readily available to the U.S. market in mid 2018, with the goal to help those of you who are new to film photography figure out a film which might be right fit for you.

While this guide is probably going to be most helpful for beginning film photographers, I’m hopeful that more experienced film shooters will also find this guide valuable and interesting. Due to the nature and scope of what we’re tackling here, this isn’t going to be a super short video. So here are some timestamps to help you navigate the portions you may find most interesting.

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How to Work With Portrait Photography Subjects Who Aren’t Models

There are tons of tutorials on the web that teach you how to photograph people who are models; but not a whole lot for those that want to get into it and work with portrait subjects.

A lot of this month’s content is around studio photography and ranges from those offered at beginners and advanced photographers alike. With that said, a large number of photographers (such as those who shoot street photography) have been considering getting into things like studio portraiture. Why? It makes them money. But the problem is that many people know how to find moments and photograph them, but they don’t know what to do with a canvas that’s right in front of them. It’s the idea of creating vs capturing. So how do you photograph portrait subjects that aren’t model when you’re just trying to get into studio portraiture.

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Six Film Emulsions to Travel With on Your Next Trip (and a Few Recommended Cameras)

Lots of photographers are wary of bringing film with them on their next airplane trip, but the experienced photographers have learned how to do it. Sure, your phone, a good point and shoot, or a small ILC camera will work great but there is something absolutely unique about what film will do for the experience. Typically, folks love to look at and fall in love with their travel photos as soon as possible. But when you delay that otherwise instant gratification just a bit, you’ll be much more thoroughly surprised later on. Even if you shoot instant film, there’s still a Je Ne Sais Quoi about that moment that enhances the experience.

Here are a few of our favorite film emulsions

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Review: Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter (5-10 Stops)

Variable ND filters like the Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter have often been more popular amongst videographers than they have with photographers. But with proper knowledge of color theory or simply by relying on Auto White Balance if you’re trusting enough, a variable ND filter can be fantastic not just for the digital photographer, but also for the film photographer out there. The Syrp Super Dark Variable ND Filter is a variable ND filter that cuts out anywhere from 5 to 10 stops of light from your photo. The stops are clearly marked and the filter has hard stops at either end.

In the right situations, they rival Breakthrough and Hoya’s Quality.

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Portraiture: Various Imaging Formats Visually Compared

If you were to look at the various imaging formats currently available on the market, would you be able to easily tell the difference between the bunch? We’re out to prove a point in today’s posts: most people most likely would not be able to tell if a photo was shot on Micro Four Thirds, Medium format, or full frame. Just take a look at this sample gallery we’ve put together.

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Lens Review: Fujifilm 63mm f2.8 R WR (Fujifilm G Format)

Of course, the closest thing to a normal prime lens had to be the first thing that Fujifilm announced for their Medium format G Format; and to that end we got the Fujifilm 63mm f2.8 R WR lens. It’s an interesting move for Fujifilm. You see, when the X series was announced, the company debuted at least one f1.4 lens. But this time around, we got slow lenses. Yes, I’m aware that this is medium format, but there are f1.8 lenses in the 645 format–which is larger than G format.

Nevertheless, the Fujifilm 63mm f2.8 is a fantastic lens that I wasn’t sure I’d like. But a number of factors had me coming back to it over and over again.

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