Photos taken a year ago, at Burnie, Tasmania. I stayed for 2 weeks.

And now, a year later, I am here again. This time I'm staying for 2 years.


I recently bought myself a medium format camera. It is a Bronica ETRS, a clever little camera. Of course, when I say "little", I am lying, for it is a rather big and heavy camera. My first ever medium format camera was the Yashica Mat-124G TLR. I really, really love the square format & waist level finder. On my Bronica I went for the original AE prism because 1. framing vertical shots with waist-level finder is almost impossible unless you have extraordinary patience and/ or used to shooting large format which means you always compose your images upside-down; 2. I want autoexposure because I still don't completely trust my eye-metering skills; and 3. because the price of an AE finder is half of that of AE-II (the reason of this I found out on the day I received the camera).

Anyway, the Yashica is a very beautiful and compact camera, even though it's less-refined than the Rolleiflex which it copied. However my supposedly mint Yashica which I bought from eBay has got some serious fogging issue with its taking lens. It's a big annoyance, but it hasn't stopped me from continuously using it even though I'm aware of its shortcoming.

So, enter the Bronica ETRS, my first perfectly functional, modular, professional medium format camera (I suppose my Fuji Instax 210 is a fully functional medium format camera too, but hey let's not mix things up shall we?). It's not a beautiful thing, it's not ergonomic at all without the speed grip, and it's not a refined camera. But it is a workhorse. It is tough, it is heavy, it is durable, it is practical. And it is loud, very loud. The mirror is big, and when not attached to any lens/prism/back, the mirror slap feels like it can flip the body over. It feels like a man's camera.

It took me quite awhile to get used to its controls and unfavourable ergonomics. To start shooting is a three step procedure: 1. Remove the dark slide (which I always forget) (remember not to lose it... or else you can't change film mid-roll anymore), 2. remove the lens cap, and 3. the MOST IMPORTANT step since it doesn't have any symptoms if you miss it: select "A" or "M" on prism or else it'll only shoot at 1/500 sec. As there's no user manual at all on the internet (can't believe that... but seems like the original AE prism is as rare as a unicorn, and also as impractical as a unicorn), I only discovered this after I finished a roll with most shots defaulted to 1/500 sec. Ruined the roll I guess...

Another shortcoming of the AE prism is that unlike AE-II, it doesn't display the shutter speed whatsoever when you depress the trigger slightly. There's no feedback from the prism at all unless you press the "AE" button. This happens on both "M" and "A" mode, so even though the camera is on "A" aperture-priority mode, the prism does not display anything at all. So to check that your shutter speed is 1/250 and not 1/30 you have to stop using your left hand to focus the lens or support the camera to press the "AE" button... which is not very convenient, as you would imagine.

I am currently in midst of finding the best way to hold the camera in a more comfortable and less-confronting manner, if you know what I mean. Pointing this camera at someone can incite some amount of anxiety, especially when holding it without the speed grip. It feels like pointing a gun at someone! So I am still finding a certain grip and stance that doesn't make other people feel threatened and won't give my wrist arthritis in the future.

Other complaints? Well... the battery cover is not clever, you can lose it easily since it completely detaches from the camera. Another thing is the design of the film back's latch (on the back itself, not the film back-release button on camera body)- well, it's stupid. The newer E-II model with the double latch does it much, much more ingeniously. Hmm other than that... oh yea, it feels slightly plasticky at some areas, cos mine's a late model. But don't you worry, because the plastics are very tough and the whole camera feels like a true workhorse. Don't forget that this Bronica was the wedding photographers' camera of choice in the 80's & 90's...

So yeah, the Bronica. It's not very pretty, mine is not mint condition, its ergonomics are doubtful, it feels chunky and slightly crude, it is big and quite heavy, and it feels like pointing a gun at people (which I am against). But don't get me wrong, I love this camera. It's big, it's manly, it's professional. It feels like it can keep on shooting until I have grandchildren. Also, none of these matter at all, when the results are fantastic.


A very important thing that I want from my camera is bonding. It is hard to explain this, simply because there's no explanation for this "bonding". Some people say it's the chemical reaction in your brain, just like falling in love, and some say that it's due to the combination of various factors that the camera possess that creates this "bond". For me, I feel a bond with my Nikon FA, maybe because it's my first ever film camera, and maybe because I prefer its ergonomics too. I also feel "bonded" with my Yashica Electro 35 CCN, but this feeling is kinda missing from the beautiful Olympus OM-2N, or the overtly modern Nikon F90X. Currently I'm having doubt with my bond with this Bronica, but let's see how things develop...

Thanks for reading.

Film | Waves
Nikon FA, Fujifilm Superia 200


  1. I was excitedly reading about the new med format camera until I got lost at the middle end. Congrats on your recent purchase though! It sounds beastly.

  2. Hahaha I do realise that it's abit technical and I'm fussy.. lol. Yes it's a beast, but it's very nice to use :)