Enjoy Medium Format Photography (6×7) with a Small Compact Medium Format Film Camera “BRONICA GS-1”!
The ZENZA BRONICA GS-1 is the only medium format (6×7) SLR film camera ever made by Zenza Bronica.
Different film camera manufacturers have produced different types of 6×7 medium format SLR film cameras (e.g., PENTAX, Mamiya, etc.), but the GS-1 can be a recommended film camera especially for those people who would like to make a difference in their photography.
Comparing to other 6×7 medium format cameras, the GS-1 is quite lightweight and high mobility. Thanks to its TTL flash metering, it enables you to keep shooting photos while looking through the eye-level finder.
The GS-1 was originally designed for studio work, but it can beautifully capture the scenery even in the city or majestic nature by using a large screen of the 6×7 format. However, unfortunately, the GS-1 seems to be a relatively unknown 6×7 medium format SLR camera.
What features does the GS-1 provide?
About the ZENZA BRONICA GS-1
First of all, let’s take a look at the features, performances, and specifications of the GS-1!
Performances and Specifications of the GS-1
In 1983, ZENZA BRONICA released the GS-1 to discover a new business concept for the 6×7 format, while the company has already built a strong position in the medium format camera market especially in the ZENZA BRONICA series and ETR series.
In the same way as PENTAX or Mamiya products, it is possible to enjoy a large screen (6×7) through an interchangeable film back, loading film backs for 120/220 roll films and Polaroid pack films.
Using an electronic shutter with digital control, it can handle shutter speeds from 16 sec to 1/500 sec, and B (bulb). Thanks to the electronic power, it achieves an ultra-slow shutter speed.
When setting in 1/500 sec, you don’t have to worry about dying batteries, since a mechanical shutter automatically works even in outdoor photography. Further, a lens shutter can synchronize the strobe at full speed.
A crank placed on the right side of the body, as with Hasselblad or Mamiya products, can advance films up at once or step by step.
The camera provides a wide range of finders. Besides a waist-level finder, an eye-level finder has a built-in exposure meter which helps it shoot quickly with TTL flash meter.
Advantages of the BRONICA GS-1 over Other Medium Format (6×7) SLR Cameras
The GS-1 was released in 1983, while PENTAX has already built a strong position in the ASAHI PENTAX 6×7 and Mamiya has started to promote the RZ67 series as the RB67 became popular at the time.
I believe the GS-1 was originally intended for a newly competing product against the Mamiya RB67 or RZ67. Unlike the PENTAX 6×7, in addition to an interchangeable film back, the GS-1 has successfully achieved original design concept.
Then what makes the GS-1 be more attractive than the Mamiya RB or RZ? The most outstanding advantage is its small and compact body, which is very easy to use.
When using a standard lens and a waist-level finder, the GS-1 weights approximately 1800g, on the other hand, the Mamiya RB67 is in the higher range of 2kg to 3kg including a lens. Furthermore, in comparison with the PENTAX 67 series, it weighs over 2kg easily. This difference in weight will result in large gaps in the case of outdoor photography. Accordingly, it is true the GS-1 is much lighter than the other products.
So, I can recommend you to use the GS-1 even for snap photos or landscape photography, although it’s originally developed for use in a studio. Furthermore, looked at from this perspective, a competing product will be the PENTAX 67 series. Considering its easy operation to load a film in any situation, the series remains a high-value still today!
Tips for Buying the ZENZA BRONICA GS-1
Here are some tips for purchasing a GS-1!
Buy One Supplied With a Lens and a 120 Film Back!
When purchasing a GS-1 at a store, please check to see if it comes with accessories.
I believe that the ZENZANON lens specially designed for the GS-1 is not hard to obtain in the market today, but please buy a GS-1 package including a standard 100mm F3.5 lens just in case when you cannot find it out. Also, please note that the GS-1 can load either a 120 or a 220 film, yet the truth is only the 120 film has survived until today as a 220 film has been discontinued. As such, I will recommend you to purchase a GS-1 package supplied with a 120 film back!
With Smooth Operation Nevertheless A Medium Format (6×7) SLR Camera
As you have seen so far, the GS-1 provides fast handling and light weight compared to other 6×7 medium format camera.
Why don’t you shoot with the GS-1 in various areas?