My new camera: unpacking the Bronica SQ-Ai

After weeks of researching, and visiting used gear sites a few times a day, I was finally able to get what is now my new camera: a Bronica SQ-Ai.

Why did I get it, though? Well, there are many reasons but two stand out.

It shoots square photos

I happen to like this format and in fact, I've been cropping all my photos to a square aspect ratio for months now. It is really hard to find a modern camera with a square sensor (I only know cameras like Hasselblad or Phase One, completely out of my reach), so if you want to shoot 1:1 you have to crop.

That wouldn't be a big problem, but the cameras I own (Sony A7II and Sony a6000) don't even let you preview your shot at that aspect ratio. This makes composing your shot pretty hard, since you can't tell for sure what is going to be in the frame and what is not going to be in there. I know there are other cameras (like Fuji) that let you do that, but I didn't want to get into a whole new multi-thousand dollar system.

It's a film camera

I really wanted to give film a serious try. And by serious I mean this will be my main camera for my landscape work. Not only for aesthetic reasons, but also because I believe this will make me "engage" or "connect" more with my photos. Not only do I want to shoot film, but also develop it and scan it myself.

You see, we went on a road trip through Washington recently (I'll have the photos ready soon), and I came back with ~1,000 shots from that trip. I've had the A7II for a little bit over a year and I've already shot 25,000 photos with it. And it's not my only camera, I also have the a6000, plus my phone, plus my smaller camera (RX100). I do believe I took 40,000+ photos last year... at least. And that's insanity.

I'm trying to take fewer pictures, but hopefully be able to get a better keep / throw away ratio. This might not be a good approach for other genres (like street photography) but I think it's perfect for landscape photography. It will force me to take my time composing a picture (money, and there are only 12 shots per roll), and I'm hoping this will make them better. We will see.

I'm not ditching my digital cameras, though. I still love my A7II. I'm planning on using it for video, and also on trips where it's not practical to carry a heavier film camera: long hikes for example. The tiny RX100 or even my phone will suffice on strenuous hikes and backpacking trips.

I'm not closing any doors. If film doesn't end up working for me, then I'll sell this camera and go back to digital. Only time can tell. But the first feelings from this camera are... just awesome.