5 frames with...

5 Frames with the Bronica ETRsi + 500mm f/8 EII – By Wyatt Ryan

November 9, 2019

For a steal on eBay, I acquired a Bronica ETRsi and 5 different lenses, inside a Pelican case, for just under $400. The 500mm f/8 EII lens takes up a quarter of the space in the case and weighs more than everything else combined. Weighing in an unwieldy 8 pounds, this thing is an incredible pain in the ass to carry around, and I wouldn’t be surprised to have the police called on me for carrying around a gun. It would be a little better handling wise if it had a more substantial tripod mount.

In full frame terms, the lens has the same equivalent angle of view as a 300mm lens. Finding the target of your shot is difficult to nail, as every little wiggle in your arm is magnified by how far away you are and the tiny angle of view. This lens would work great on a tripod for better framing and slower shutter speeds. The maximum aperture of f/8 is limiting, but what can you expect from a 500mm medium format lens?

I took all shots wide open at f/8 and at 1/500th of a second to account for any blur from my tired arms. Tri-X 400 developed in HC-100 (Dilution B) and scanned on an Epson V750 with EpsonScan.

Depth of field is razor thin at f/8, so I am truly surprised that I even got 5 useable shots out of the roll. Knowing I would face some limitations shooting at f/8 and 1/500th of a second (the ETRsi’s top shutter speed), I took the lens out on a very bright and sunny afternoon to play some disc with my friends.

This is by far my favorite shot out of the bunch, I wasn’t sure it would come out well with how contrasty the light was in this situation.

Yelling instructions from 50 yards away isn’t the easiest, but I made it work. Carrying around 9 pounds of equipment didn’t help the game go any quicker, and there was a lot of stopping so I could set up a shot.

Overall, shooting with this set up is something I’m definitely interested in doing again, but with a tripod. Possibly walkie talkies to make the communication a little easier for everyone.

This shot is by far the sharpest, and I’m glad that I nailed the focus on at least one. Would I recommend this lens for someone with a Bronica ETRx? Hell no. It’s an absolute pain in the ass to cart around and is horribly balanced with the body.

If you’re okay with the weight, the difficulty of focusing and framing, and have money to burn, go ahead and buy it! I did enjoy using it, but I probably would have preferred it in a more relaxed setting. It’s pretty difficult to run and gun shoot with 9 pounds of metal and glass.

If you made it this far, thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed the post. I’m sure I’ll do some more 5 frames with the other lenses I have.

Feel free to check out my other content below.

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  • Reply
    Pierre-Alix Favillier
    November 9, 2019 at 10:24 am

    I have the camera, I certainly wont be acquiring the lens!

    it looks like WWI machine gun!

  • Reply
    Loris Viotto
    November 10, 2019 at 8:22 am

    sei troppo forte, e mi raccomando: continua così !! ciao.

  • Reply
    August 30, 2020 at 10:21 pm

    I have an ETRS and most of the accessories, cobbled together from a bargain bundle find and eBay for necessities (extra film backs mostly). Even the 150mm becomes limiting for “walkabout” shooting – following the minimum handheld shutter speed = focal length rule, you only have 1/125-1/500 to work with. On an overcast day I’ve shot Porta 800
    with the 150mm and been confined to using trashcans and fence posts as makeshift tripods. And you will always be shooting from the opposite side of the road. There’s good reason the 75mm is the default focal length with this camera. You might push it with a longer lens for sports photos on a sunny day, but the 500mm is clearly a tripod lens, with any film: my go-to even with the standard lens is Delta 3200, shoot at 3200 in low light, but shoot and develop as slow as 1000 for brighter light, because it’s really an ISO 1000-1200 film.

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