Zenza Bronica

Zenza Bronica S2 @@@ Zenza Bronica EC-TL
Zenza Bronica D

The birth of Zenza Bronica

Zenza Bronica D

Automat film insert[detail]

Zenza Bronica camera which was released in March 1959 was organized by Zenzaburo Yoshino. To make his ideal camera, he spent his private money of over 100 thousand yen and over 8 years though he was not a professional camera designer. After world war II, he managed a company which made cigarette case, oil lighter and women's compact, and also had his own camera shop in Tokyo because he was a very enthusiast of camera. However, he was not satisfied and started a plan to make a world's best camera by himself. Then finally, he had achieved his dream after putting a lot of his time and expense.

The first Zenza Bronica released at that time is 6x6cm focal-plane single-lens reflex camera which is similar to Hasselbrad regarding its style and size, but this camera has various advantages that feature is not equipped on not only hassy on the day but also the existent one: 1) after taking, the mirror and aperture are returned to the original position, 2) to keep the optical back of the lens, the mirror is not flipped-up but slided-down 3) very long exposure up to 10sec using self-timer 4) the film back can be attached without regarding both body/back sequences 5) the film can be loaded fully automatically as Rolleiflex without adjusting the start mark.

Consequently, it had already satisfied the all basic requirements for SLR cameras, and it is also an admirable advanced one with considering the release of Nikon F in June of this year. Furthermore, it must be noted that the camera is the most small and light-weighted one in the all Zenza Bronica with a focal-plane shutter and has a very elegant and delicate exterior design.

Originally, that first camera was called "Zenza Bronica" and then renamed "Zenza Bronica type D (deluxe)" when the next "type S (standard)" debuted for identification. They say that the name "Zenza Bronica" was came from "Zenzaburo", "Brownie" and "Camera". Even at the beginning, Nikkor lenses, 5cmF3.5, 7.5cmF2.8 and 13.5cmF3.5 are equipped to the camera. Of course, Mr. Zenzaburo Yoshino selected Nikkor because he thought that the best lenses must be equipped to the best cameras, Actually, it is easily lead from the history of Zenza Bronica, they could not make lenses by themselves. But Nikon F and its system introduced in the same year is very popular and they could not supply enough lenses for Bronica. For that reason, Zenza Bronica Industories inc. got into the technology of design and manufacturing lenses, and replaced the lenses to their own made. Consequently, 6x4.5cm format leaf-shutter camera (Zenza Bronica ETR) never adopted Nikkor lenses.

History of Zenza Bronica Camera

Zenza Bronica EC + 40mm F4

Mirror Mechanism of EC

Interior of EC

Light-weighted and compact Zenza Bronica D camera is the very deluxe camera regarding the both function and design. However, not only the mechanism is very complex but also the exterior is very expense. Therefore, in 1961, they released a little big and simple "type S (standard)" camera which dropped self-timer/long exposure and automat mechanism. Then they added more simplified type C camera which omitted interchangeable filmback and integrated focusing knob (which is replaced to detachable helicoid). I think such story is very interesting, because other manufacturers added features, complexity and costs for the new cameras. But bronica simplified the camera. After that, Zenza Bronica made the last genuine mechanical S2 and C2 cameras with reliability on the same basic mechanical design. Especially, many S2 was made for long time with some improvement, and becomes the most popular 6x6 Japanese-made SLR camera. In 1972, new electronically controlled EC type is released with all new mechanical design. This camera is bigger than the former one but it has very precise shutter and reliable mechanism. The most significant change is done to the mirror mechanism; divided mirror. The bigger main mirror above is swinged-back and then flipped up as usual SLR, and the smaller sub mirror below is rotated to the bottom of the camera body. Such design maintains the inertial balance stable, and mirror-shock is minimized. Finder mount has an electronical contact for coupling shutter speed to the optional finder with exposure meter. Mirror lock up feature came back.

The left-above camera is the most functional Bronica, EC-TL. This camera has a light sensor on the main mirror, and it enables exposure metering or auto exposure (aperture-priority AE) without optional finders. Light is metered after the aperture is closed -- it called instant stop-down metering as same as Nikon FG. Light comes through the finder eyepiece is compensated by the second light sensor on the mirror, because such camera is often used with weist-level finder. Finally, simplified and digitalized EC-TL-II was released. It is the last Bronica camera with Nikkor lenses.

After all, Zenza Bronica is a realized dream of Zenzaburo Yoshino, and the same word may be appropriate to the lens line-up for the camera. Especially, unique mirror mechanism is the embodied "Lens centrism", I think.

Specifications of Zenza-Bronica EC series

Zenza Bronica EC Zenza Bronica EC-TL Difference between EC-TL-II and EC-TL