Medium Format, Modular, and Underappreciated: The Zenza Bronica ETRSi

As the film photography world is hurdling forward, increasing in popularity seemingly day by day, the hunt for an affordable medium format camera is getting more and more difficult. This may be the last great option for 645 film photography. 

In this video, Karin Majoka does a breakdown of the Zenza Bronica ETRSi, the youngest of the Bronica ETR system. I don't personally have any firsthand experience with the ETRSi, but I have friends with Zenza Bronica cameras, and they love them. This particular camera has my favorite and arguably "must-need" feature: interchangeable backs. The ability to change your film from one shot to the next is an underrated feature for a film camera. The older siblings of the ETRSi lack what I would consider is one of the most important additional considerations, mirror lock-up mode; however, it did manage to make it onto the ETRSi. 

If you've been on the prowl for a medium format camera, you'll know that prices have been getting higher and higher, with many of the more popular options now crossing the threshold of being "too expensive" for many people. As far as I see it, this is where the Zenza Bronica ETR system steps in. It can still be had for much less than its Mamiya or Pentax counterparts while still boasting many of the same features. 

Do you have any experience with Zenza Bronica cameras or more specifically, the ETR system? What were your thoughts?

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15 Comments

Stuart James's picture

I've had my Bronica system for quite sometime, a gift from my grandmother, and it's a truly under-rated camera. It is easily on par with Mamiya, but far more durable. The downside has always been, you will have to purchase everything you want to use as the rental houses don't support the brand.

Glem Let's picture

I had this system pre digital, it made me loads of money, it has leaf lenses to 1/500th lots of different film backs and was a brilliant workhorse for me... I recently bought one again just to put some old 120 film through it again.
Didn’t have Hasselblad kudos but the lenses were easier to use, the motor grip was much better and it just kept working, one tip I’ll share is to try to buy the later lenses, they had better coatings and better quality control..

Dana King's picture

The video by Karen M was seemingly like: Paul Taylor's done a year before. Paul's videos are informative and very detailed. https://youtu.be/iccaiMS8F1M

Rodney Johnson's picture

They're cheaper than Hasselblads!

(Somebody had to say it)

Alex Zenzaburro's picture

No, please dont tell people to buy Bronicas before i got a third body as spare and the macro ^^

Mamiya RZ and Cinestill 800T is the way to go people, and after all 645 isnt THAT big :)

John Sammonds's picture

I loved my ETRSi with a digital back a world beater......

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

You could adapt a digital back on your Etrsi ?

ian Maitland's picture

Great cameras - the lenses cost several thousand dollars in the 1970s - and well worth the money. I bought mine for about $300 each. Great thing with Bronica is that I usually get six good pix from a roll of 12 (or indeed 36 on a Leica). The slow operation makes for better and more reflective photos with lovely tonal quality in monochrome.

Timothy Gasper's picture

These Bronicas were never really appreciated like they deserved, back then and...well...even now. The lenses are excellent and I'm NOT going to compare them to their counterparts. That would presume that they are of lesser quality which they absolutely are NOT. They stand out extremely well on their own. I just wish they would have received the appreciation they truly deserve.

Andy Gough's picture

Please, please, please stop telling people just how good the Bronica ETRSi is you’re pushing prices up and making it harder for me to collect all the accessories for the two of mine.

Jim Bochicchio's picture

Had an ETR and ETRS with 40mm and 105mm Zenzanon lenses. The 105 on the ETR was a great portraiture setup. Still have it, but don't use it as much as I should.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

I have the same exact gear. Bought the 40mm for 70 euros. And it's a killer.
I don't use it as often as I'd like to, and I prefer the square format, but I definitely can't sell it.

Jim Bochicchio's picture

I purchased a Zenzanon to Canon EF adapter awhile back. Mount the 105 to my 5D mklll and get pretty nice results.

Stefan Gonzalevski's picture

Sounds good ! I'll check if it exists for Nikon.

El Capitan's picture

I’m in the market for etr/etrs but the prices have really gone up. Besides, most of these Zenza’s are in Japan, which means they are prone to fungus due to humidity in the islands. Even my trusted antique Konishiroku Pearl II (645 format) doubled in price of what I paid 2-3 years ago. I don’t even mention Mamiya or Pentax, their prices are just steep. We need a revival of film camera manufacturing, or else we’ll be forced to buy a broken half century old equipment.