Bronica s2a Revisited.
Cast your mind back to week 31 and you will remember I ran a few rolls through this beauty with the hope of shooting it at my sister’s wedding. Alas it let me down, I loved everything about this lumpy beast except it would not focus. It would not reach infinity and no matter how crisp you got the image on the focus glass it actually focused 20% behind the subject. Off she went to the repairers for assessment, after much scratching of heads and some tweaking they thought it was improved, it wasn’t, but not fixed. I was gutted, I had made my mind up if corrected it would enter my fold. A specialist repairer would be unviable so as a last resort I searched the web, I found several articles referring to a foam seal under the frame of ground glass deteriorating causing similar issues and further talk of adjusting the shims the ground glass sat on. I set about it more in desperate hope than anything, replaced the foam gaining some improvement then attacked the shims. Hours later I thought I had it, the distance scale matched a measured distance, and a test roll was needed!
Test roll 1 – Ilford FP4+ and a yellow filter fitted I took my youngest to the park to try it out. First shot from a tripod I lined up a seed head dead centre. Set the aperture to 2.8 and dialled in 1/1000 of a second – MAXIMUM test! I shot the rest of the roll using Lily as my test model. Straight into the developer and after scanning I was blown away by the results, sharp and on point, I was over the moon!
Test roll 2 – Ilford FP4+. I let it sit for a week or two to settle just in case the seal compressed and non-focus returned. I took her out on a day trip to Start Point on the south Devon coast and reeled of a roll carefully, I was being really careful with it fearful of returning issues. I need not have worried as you can see.
Test roll 3 – Ilford FP4+, it is my favourite. A few days break in London was the perfect field test/excuse to throw some real life at it, bouncing around in my bag for miles of walking, we did the usual London sightseeing in all the places we could fit in, I noticed the weight but I can live with that, I fell more in love with the now named Bertha with every frame.
Test roll 4 – Ilford HP5+ @1600 – This roll was more for me. I shot half the roll at night on the Thames clipper ride back to our hotel on the last night then finished it of once we got home. I have never had much success pushing HP5+ so I wanted to try developing in DDX to see if that was better, well it was! My best results pushing film speed to date!
Am I happy? YES YES YES! Bertha is home with me now forever. I think lots of good things well come from this partnership. She isn’t perfect and I made some mistakes as I will show you at the end. She did however do everything I asked and did it well. The shutter, while like a gunshot going off is on time and surprisingly stable at lower speeds hand held - and the focus is tack sharp! …happy bunny!