Christopher
Stoll

1978 Zenza Bronica EC-II

1978 Zenza Bronica EC-II
Year
c.1978
Make
Zenza Bronica
Model
EC-II
Type
single-lens reflex
Film
120
Lens
Bronica C/S/S2/EC mount
Apertures
n/a
Speeds
1/1000 – 4s , Bulb
Meter
none
Battery
PX28 (4LR44)
MSRP
$989.50 (equal to $4,052.91 in 2021)
Condition
5H (received) / 5E (current)

The Zenza Bronica C is possibly the sexiest cameras I own, but it suffers from erratic shutter speed timing like so many old mechanical cameras do. For me the Bronica EC is not as visually appealing as the Bronica C (though the EC looks more like an early Hasselblad, which for some people has preferable esthetics), it is a tremendously better shooter. The shutter speeds on my Bronica EC-II are essentially perfect. The deviation is so low and the consistency is so high, it is hard to imagine that this cameras came from the factory with any better timing than it has now. The pre-digital, solid-state electronics on this over forty year old camera seem to be rock solid. When I first received the camera it didn’t seem that this was going to be the case, the shutter did not consistently release when the shutter release button was pressed. However, after letting the cameras sit with batteries in it for a while it magically started working again. Perhaps leaving a battery in the camera caused an ad-hoc reconditioning of the capacitors. I don’t really know why it started working or how it is so consistent, but I do know that I am happy with the results that it produces.

In addition to the reliability I also appreciate how the ergonomics were improved over the C/S/S2/S2A models. The film wind and shutter speed dials are both on the right side of the camera. Importantly, the shutter speed is visible while looking down at the camera, no need to peek on the side. This configuration also makes it easier to attach a hand grip on the left side. Additionally, the sides to the viewfinder automatically fold out when the viewfinder is pulled up. Because of that design the magnifier flips up by sliding the latch on the back of the viewfinder hood rather than by bumping the viewfinder hood backwards as was the case on the Bronica C/2/S2/S2A models.

The downside to the EC-II is that it is heavy, really heavy. Some would describe it as a brick, but a more appropriate description would be a cinder block. With just the basic viewfinder, 75mm ƒ/2.8 lens, and a roll of film loaded, the camera weighs 4 pounds 11½ ounces (2,141 grams). The laptop I’m writing this post on only weighs 3 pounds. But, it’s not just the EC, all of the vintage Bronicas are absolute beasts to carry. Hanging them on a neck strap is not super comfortable and hand carrying them is a workout for the hands and forearms. I prefer to either carry this camera with an attached hand grip, or slung over one shoulder.

According to a contemporary advertisement

Why do you expect less from a 2¼ slr than you from your 35?

Would you build a 35mm system around a 17-year old camera?

Or would you expect automatic conveniences and technologically advanced design, as well as practical system capabilities?

Most 2¼ slr systems haven’t kept up with the needs and demands of today’s photographers. And the pros have just had to learn to live with it.

Now – Bronica EC offers you an alternative. A 2¼ square slr system designed for today’s pros.

Bronica EC has an electronically controlled shutter, so your shutter speeds are repeatably accurate, year after year.

Bronica EX offers an Electro-Controlled Meter/Finder for shutter-coupled thru-the-lens exposure control.

Bronica EC has an instant-return mirror – a feature you expect in any 35mm slr but, surprisingly, not found in some other 2¼ slr’s.

Bronica EC provides the unsurpassed optical quality of Nikkor and Zenzanon lenses, from 40mm wide angle to 1200mm super telephoto. And you can rely on the EC shutter’s uniform, electronic accuracy with all of them, so you don’t have to worry about exposure variations when switching lenses.

Before you sink a lot of money into a 2¼ slr system that was designed 17 years ago, try the modern one. The Bronica EC. Also, check out the famous Bronica S2A. Rugged, reliable and versatile, it accepts the same great lenses as the EC. At your dealer, or write for more details.

Bronica EC. The end of the double standard.

The Viewfinder

The view finder on the Bronica EC-II is nice and bright. The focusing screen on this one is a fresnel style with microprisms in the center circle. It is hard to miss focus using this.

A lovely, bright viewfinder
A lovely, bright viewfinder – iPhone 8

Images from this EC-II

Sounds from this EC-II

Shutter release
Film wind

Shutter Speed Accuracy

External Resources