Bronica SQ-B, Zenzanon PS80mm lens and HP5 plus

5 Frames with a Bronica SQ-B, Zenzanon PS 80mm lens and HP5 plus – By Stelios Themelakis

Mist is a somewhat rare occurrence in Athens, Greece, and I’ve always envied photographers that live in places where they can shoot black n’ white film in the mist every other day. So one Sunday morning when I looked out the window and saw we had a misty morning I knew I had to hurry. I love shooting with my Bronica SQ-B and the 80mm f/2.8 Zenzanon PS lens, so I grabbed the camera and a roll of Ilford HP5 plus and headed straight in the woods. The forest in the photos is located in Parnitha mountain, “Mont Parnes” as it also known due to casino located at the top, overseeing Athens.

Parnitha forest, Athens, Greece

Shooting with the Bronica is unique kind of experience. Looking through the waist level finder, your frame feels so much more alive, bright and 3D, popping the magnifier glass to help you with focus feels like watching old cinema. Everything slows down when operating this camera, you first have to remove the dark slide and manual focus and framing takes more time, as you only have 12 frames per roll available, making each shot super precious. The sounds this camera makes when operated is another pleasure to be experienced, the Seiko leaf shutter of the Zenzanon PS lens can barely be heard, because of the unapologetic big fat slap of the mirror, that thing definitely turns heads! The gears of the manual hand crank are equally loud and satisfying.

Parnitha forest, Athens, Greece

The 80mm lens on medium format is equivalent to a 50mm lens on 35mm cameras and although sometimes I wish for a wider lens, the truth is that with that focal length you can do pretty much everything and if you are deciding now to jump into the medium format wagon you should definitely start with an 80mm lens.

Parnitha forest, Athens, Greece

I used to hate HP5, it was the first film I used on 35mm format and the amount of grain was overwhelming, most probably the problem was my developing and not the film itself but nevertheless I stopped using it in 35mm format. Medium format HP5 is another story, grain is significantly less obvious and the ability to push the film easily up to iso 1600 or 3200 makes it very versatile and especially great for handheld medium format photography. I decided that one stop push, from iso 400 to 800 would be enough for the lighting conditions.

Parnitha forest, Athens, Greece

For developing I used Rodinal at 1+50 concentration, 1+25 concentration is too strong and can lead to stronger grain and higher contrast, generally I prefer longer developing times as they seem to produce better results, at least to my taste. I’ve also experimented with other developers like Ilfosol 3 and Ilfotec DD-X but Rodinal is cheaper and most importantly it doesn’t go bad after a few months like most other developers. After developing the film I scanned it with an Epson v600 flatbed scanner. I couldn’t be happier for the results out of just one roll of 120 film.

Parnitha forest, Athens, Greece

You can find more of my photographs at my Instagram page, I’d love to get some feedback!

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28 thoughts on “5 Frames with a Bronica SQ-B, Zenzanon PS 80mm lens and HP5 plus – By Stelios Themelakis”

  1. Pingback: 5 Frames with a Bronica SQ-B, Zenzanon PS 80mm lens and HP5 plus - Stylusy

  2. When you live in the mist you envy photographers who can shoot in the sun every other day 😉
    Fine story and rare “bad weather” photos from Greece, thanks!

  3. Great photos that convey the mood of the misty day. HP5 is under appreciated – just as good as its yellow boxed competitor and IMHO better for pushing.

  4. Greetings from a fellow SQ-B shooter! Lovely shots! Glad you got your wish for a cloudy, misty day. It certainly gets the mood across. I too wrote about my experience with my SQ-B. It’s good new, fresh articles about it such as yours are here. Thank you for sharing!


    I also used to hate HP5+ and for the exact same reasons as you! I shunned it for years, thinking it was just a “beginner’s film”. Stupid and arrogant. Recently I did a project that I thought would benefit from grain, so I used HP5+, 35mm and Rodinal – and instead of grain, I got incredibly sharp photos that I love! I was stunned, and I have really reassessed my relationship to HP5+. Now I use it often, usually with Rodinal 1+50. I think if I had to pick just one “desert island” combination it might well be HP5+ and Rodinal.
    Nice moody pics! The last one is my favourite. Where I live there is also not much fog and I sometimes envy my coastal friends who get a lot of it – as they hope for sun. Love the one you’re with. Good to see a Bronica getting some use!

    1. Thank you Dan! I recently went on 4 day road trip and I have so many nice photos from parts of Greece that are so beautiful but largely unknown to foreigners. I ‘ ll be posting a much bigger article for this trip 🙂

  6. Lovely photos!

    HP5 would be my desert island film (though I’d miss some others like crazy), but for 35mm not with Rodinal – I can imagine that combination puts one off. I’ve been using 35mm HP5 with HC110 for a long while now, and it never fails me. Reliable, and very good results with completely acceptable grain. So, don’t write it off for smaller formats either!

  7. Thank you for this post. I started shooting with Zenza Bronica a few months ago and I share you thoughts on the kind of experience you get with this camera. Truly, everything slows down when you remove the darkslide and rotate the crank of the Bronica.

  8. Beautiful images!! Ya gotta love the gift of fog. HP5+ and FP4+ are my go to films. I dumped Kodak in the 80’s. A long story. I quickly jumped on ePray to see how much the SQ’s are going for these days. Wow have they gone up!! I shot an S2A many years ago before I moved over to Hasselblad. I loved that camera but mechanically it’s film mags constantly let me down.

    I have followed you on IG and love your images there as well. Keep it up!!


  9. Thank you Eric! I think this where I’ ll also end up, after experimenting with different films I see that I constantly get better results. These two films is all you need for every condition really. I have never used a Hasselblad so I can’t compare the two, and yes everything film related has exploded, specially medium format.

  10. Not Half Brad

    Love these. Love HP5. Recently purchased an SQ-B but don’t yet have my hands on it, and am teasing myself with internet stories of other people using there’s.

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