Bronica C


Zenza Bronica C & Nikkor-P 200mm f/4

This camera wins the prize for loudest shutter mechanism. It sounds like a jack in the box popping open when you release the shutter. The only other camera of mine that compares for sheer loudness is the Asahi Pentax 67. But even the Pentax doesn’t have nearly as long of an echo in the box after the initial explosion. You really have to hold, fire and hear this one to appreciate it!

The Bronica C was released in 1964 as a budget version of the more sophisticated model S. The main difference is that the C doesn’t have a removable film back. This camera has a focal plane shutter and one unique thing is the lens. It is the standard Nikkor-P 75/2.8 but the focusing mechanism and the lens are two separate parts. This particular focusing mechanism can accept a 50mm, 75mm, 135mm or 200mm lens so there are all sorts of color coded markings.

Even though this was a budget model it is actually a rather attractive body. The leatherette is a rather unusual medium gray color on a chrome base. Many casual observers will mistake it for a Blad and if they ask I’m always happy to inform them that it’s a Bronica.

The more I use this camera the more I like it! Who needs a Blad when you can get one of these for a fraction of the cost? And the photos I get from it are really quite nice.  Look here. to see some samples.

I found a reasonably clean copy of the 200mm lens!

Nikkor-P 200mm f/4

I finally broke down and bought a new standard lens for this camera. The one that came with it has a couple small moldy spots. I’ve taken it apart and cleaned what I could and then let it sit in the sunlight for quite a while so I’m pretty sure the mold is dead, but it still bugged me. So the other day I saw three copies of the standard lens on the shelf and took a close look at all of them. I finally settled on this one, which is the later P.C version which has multi-coating.

Nikkor-PC 75/2.8

Nikkor-PC 75/2.8

I guess buying the 75mm got me on a role. Today I finally pulled the plug on a beautiful Nikkor-O.C 50/2.8 that’s been sitting on the shelf at my favorite store for some time, just begging me to take her home.

Nikkor-O.C 50mm f/2.8

Nikkor-O.C 50mm f/2.8

And now I’ve completed the lens set, picking up the Nikkor-Q 135mm f/3.5 lens today. It isn’t in perfect condition as there are a few light scratches on the front element but it will work just fine for me. On medium format 135 is a great focal length for portraits and close ups. I’ll be running some film thru it pretty soon, although I don’t know what I’ll be shooting yet. Although each of my lenses represent different versions, these four focal lengths (50mm, 75mm, 135mm, 200mm) are the only ones offered at the time the Bronica C was released.

Nikkor-Q 135/3.5

Nikkor-Q 135/3.5


14 Responses to Bronica C

  1. Tony says:

    Anyway I can use the Bronica C photo in the following article? I cant seem to fine anyone with an original C with decent photos.

  2. revdocjim says:

    Thanks Tony!

  3. Howard Somerville says:

    With my Bronica S2a, the noise is more like that of a car bonnet (hood) being closed by dropping it.

  4. revdocjim says:

    Great description Howard! :)

  5. revdocjim says:

    Picked up my fourth lens, the 135/3.5 today!

  6. Rob Oresteen says:

    Jim – was this with the 50?

    I love this shot. Also film and exposure details if you have them. Thank you.

    – Rob

    • revdocjim says:

      Thanks for the comments Rob. This particular shot was taken in the Bangkok airport and it was before I got the 50mm. It was taken with the standard 75mm lens and unfortunately I don’t have any exposure data. It was taken handheld on Tri-X 400.

  7. Pingback: Tri-X on Bronica C | Chemical Cameras

  8. Pingback: Bronica C in Thailand | Chemical Cameras

  9. Pingback: HP5+ on Bronica C (Nikkor O.C 50/2.8) | Chemical Cameras

  10. John Brion says:

    Nice article & photographs of the gear. You mention early on that the model-C is a budget version of the model-S and the difference between them is that the C does not have a removable back. Actually the model-C would be more in-line with the model S2 in that the model-C you show here has a removable helical focusing method (same as the S2) and the model-S has a permanently built-in focusing mechanism which is operated not by a ring around the lens but by the shutter advance nob that also rotates and is the focusing method. Perhaps your model-C is a later model and the earlier model-C’s have the earlier side focus method? It may not seem that much of a difference but I have both and much prefer the model-S focus method to the S2 design although the S2 is a great camera too and I use it often.
    Secondly you mention the body is chrome. It is actually stainless steel. All of these cameras wether the S, S2 or C are very nicely built cameras of the highest order. It’s hard to call the “C” a budget version. I see the model-C as a high-end camera that was positioned for the person that doesn’t require the need to run lots of film or different film stocks on a shoot. There are a few other small points on the camera you show which puts it in-line with the S2.

  11. Ruben says:

    Hi Tony,

    I renetly got a beautiful Bronica C, I haven’t shot any rolls yet but I tried connecting a flash and not surprisingly it didn’t work. How can it work if there’s no battery in the camera? But I guess it worked back in the time. Any thoughts about the issue? I really would like to use the camera to do some studio work.


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