|Bronica Co., Ltd.|
|Formerly||Zenza Bronica Industries, Inc. (ゼンザブロニカ工業株式会社)|
Shinkodo Works (新光堂製作所)
|Industry||photography (camera and lens manufacturer)|
|Founded||June 30, 1956 in Tokyo, Japan|
|Fate||Acquired by Tamron Co., Ltd. (July 1998)|
|Successor||Tamron Co., Ltd.|
|Products||Cameras, optical lenses and other products|
Bronica also Zenza Bronica (in Japanese: ゼンザブロニカ) was a Japanese manufacturer of classic medium-format roll film cameras and photographic equipment based in Tokyo, Japan. Their single-lens reflex (SLR) system-cameras competed with Pentax, Hasselblad, Mamiya and others in the medium-format camera market.
Before introduction of the first of what would become a dynasty of Zenza Bronica cameras in 1959, the Latinized Zenza Bronica name was already a popular Japanese luxury goods brand of the Shinkodo Works (in Japanese: 新光堂製作所) since 1947, specialized in the production of intricate crafted and decorated personal accessories, such as metal cigarette lighters and cases, cosmetic compacts, and watches, of diverse styles and designs.
The company's founder Zenzaburō Yoshino (in Japanese: 吉野善三郎, b. 25 January 1911 — d. 23 November 1988), wherefrom the Latinized Zenza Bronica brand name is derived, was the third son born into a Japanese rice merchant family. At an early age Yoshino showed deep reverence for the technical innovation and mechanics of world-renowned cameras produced by the likes of Leica, Contax and Rollei. Both fascinated and yet increasingly frustrated by the limitations of the cameras produced at that time period, where each camera's merits and demerits were not solved by just one camera, Yoshino visioned creating a high-precision interchangeable single-lens reflex camera modular system of his own design.
Yoshino's ambition, however, would require substantial investment, which he gradually self-funded from his family business in transportation and his passion for cameras by the establishment of a small camera store in Tokyo's Kanda district.Yoshino's camera store and his immense familiarity with deluxe foreign cameras became a huge success with photography enthusiasts in Japan, buying and selling luxury Leica and Contax cameras, which also gained popularity with US Army soldiers stationed in Japan after World War II. This formed the funding basis for his founding in 1947 of the Shinkodo Works with a vision of camera production, which at first produced Bronica brand luxury art deco accessories such as cigarette lighters and cases including watches, and positioned Bronica as a luxury brand in Japanese department stores, with popularity thriving among US Army soldiers in Japan.
The Shinkodo Works was Yoshino's precursor production base and funding source for what would later serve his Bronica camera and photographic equipment manufacturing; later consolidated under the Zenza Bronica Kogyo Kabushiki Kaisha (Zenza Bronica Industries, Inc) company.On 17 January 1952, the Shinkodo Works was directed by Yoshino to begin research and development of the Bronica prototype camera.
The prototype was a modular camera named the "Yoshino Flex". In June 1956 the Shinkodo Works created its first handmade example camera, and on reaching perfection in October 1958 with Yoshino's eighth prototype camera,the development costs had reached a sum of 200 million Yen, a huge sum at that time. The final prototype bore the Latinized nameplate "ZENZA BRONICA"—the Bronica Z ( Zen-za) rollfilm camera—and first appeared at the Philadelphia Camera Show in March 1959, where it received ecstatic industry press coverage and left a deep lasting impression of being the world's dream camera. The Bronica Z modular camera system, shortly later with slight modifications renamed the Zenza Bronica D (Deluxe) and successor Bronicas, using large-coverage film format, high-quality Nikkor lenses supplied by the then Japan Optical Industries Co., Ltd., (Nikon Corporation) became instant successes in the deluxe camera market worldwide. The Bronica D was the Japanese answer and first serious challenger to the Swedish Hasselblad cameras, and in several technical ways outclassed the Swedish offerings. Such was the design success of Bronica, that in the United States it attracted influential figures from the photographic industry such as Burt Keppler who met with Yoshino. Bronica later introduced optics and lens units of its own manufacture incorporating Seiko shutters with its later camera designs and held a portfolio of international patents.
Bronica was eventually acquired by the lens manufacturer Tamron Co., Ltd., in 1998 with emphasis on Bronica's optical lens manufacturing. In May 2000, Tamron introduced under the Bronica brand the RF645 rangefinder camera.Tamron discontinued the brand's single-lens reflex camera models (ETRSi, SQ-Ai, SQ-B and GS-1) between June 2002 and December 2004, sales having suffered from the lack of consideration to a digital camera back and loss of market share to digital photography and digital single-lens reflex (DSLR) cameras, particularly for the wedding and portrait photography business which had previously been a heavy user of medium-format photographic film but switched quickly to digital photography for its commercial workflow benefits. Bronica's last model, the RF645 rangefinder camera, was discontinued in September 2005, and marked the termination of the Bronica camera brand business.
Bronicas were workhorse photographic film cameras used by professional photographers for many years until the process of digital photography became widely adopted. Bronica cameras are, however, still widely used by photographers—both professional and advanced amateurs—whilst the commercial production of photographic 120 film remains available, in no small part due to superior image quality of 6x4.5, 6x6 and 6x7cm photographic film formats over smaller film (35mm) and digital image sensor formats.
The Japan Camera and Optical Instruments Inspection and Testing Institute (JCII) at its camera museum located in Ichibanchō district, central Tokyo, has a selection of Bronica camera models preserved among its museum display collections; as part of the museum's designation "preserving cameras considered of historical significance".
Bronica SLR system-cameras employed a modular design: The major components of the camera—lens, body, film-back and viewfinder were separate and interchangeable, providing options to match the specific photography or workflow needs of the photographer.
From its start, Bronica introduced a number of 6x6 cm medium-format SLR cameras with focal plane shutter, which used Nikkor lenses from Nikon, until this line was discontinued with the introduction of the successor Bronica SQ-series. These models included:
Notably, the Bronica EC was the first medium-format SLR camera with an electrically operated focal plane shutter (Japan Patent No.: 43/94431 24 December 1968; US Patent No. US3696727), while the EC-TL was the first medium-format camera with Aperture priority automatic exposure (AE).
The range of Nikkor lenses for these remarkable cameras reached from 30mm (fisheye) to 1200mm and comprised about 30 lenses. Lens optics supplied by Carl Zeiss in Jena, Tokyo Optical Co., Ltd., Norita optics, Komura-Komuranon (Sankyo Kohki), Schneider Kreuznach, as well as lens optics later manufactured by Bronica itself based on designs by Zeiss and Japanese lens manufacturers were available, as well as a wide range of accessories, including different film magazines, bellows, and viewfinders.
A single-lens reflex camera (SLR) is a camera that typically uses a mirror and prism system that permits the photographer to view through the lens and see exactly what will be captured. With twin lens reflex and rangefinder cameras, the viewed image could be significantly different from the final image. When the shutter button is pressed on most SLRs, the mirror flips out of the light path, allowing light to pass through to the light receptor and the image to be captured.
A camera is an optical instrument that captures a visual image. At a basic level, cameras are sealed boxes with a small hole that allows light in to capture an image on a light-sensitive surface. Cameras have various mechanisms to control how the light falls onto the light-sensitive surface. Lenses focus the light entering the camera and the size of the aperture can be widened or narrowed to let more or less light into the camera, and a shutter mechanism determines the amount of time the photosensitive surface is exposed to the light.
A twin-lens reflex camera (TLR) is a type of camera with two objective lenses of the same focal length. One of the lenses is the photographic objective or "taking lens", while the other is used for the viewfinder system, which is usually viewed from above at waist level.
Victor Hasselblad AB is a Swedish manufacturer of medium format cameras, photographic equipment and image scanners based in Gothenburg, Sweden. The company originally became known for its classic analog medium-format cameras that used a waist-level viewfinder. Perhaps the most famous use of the Hasselblad camera was during the Apollo program missions when the first humans landed on the Moon. Almost all of the still photographs taken during these missions used modified Hasselblad cameras. In 2016, Hasselblad introduced the world's first digital compact mirrorless medium-format camera, the X1D-50c, changing the portability of medium-format photography. Hasselblad produces about 10,000 cameras a year from a small three-storey building.
Minolta Co., Ltd. was a Japanese manufacturer of cameras, camera accessories, photocopiers, fax machines, and laser printers. Minolta Co., Ltd., which is also known simply as Minolta, was founded in Osaka, Japan, in 1928 as Nichi-Doku Shashinki Shōten. It made the first integrated autofocus 35 mm SLR camera system. In 1931, the company adopted its final name, an acronym for "Mechanism, Instruments, Optics, and Lenses by Tashima". In 1933, the brand name first appeared on a camera, a copy of the Plaubel Makina simply called "Minolta".
Mamiya Digital Imaging Co., Ltd. is a Japanese company that manufactures high-end cameras and other related photographic and optical equipment. With headquarters in Tokyo, it has two manufacturing plants and a workforce of over 200 people. The company was founded in May 1940 by camera designer Seiichi Mamiya and financial backer Tsunejiro Sugawara.
Nikon Corporation, also known just as Nikon, is a Japanese multinational corporation headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, specializing in optics and imaging products. The companies held by Nikon form the Nikon Group.
Rolleiflex is the name of a long-running and diverse line of high-end cameras originally made by the German company Franke & Heidecke, and later Rollei-Werke.
The Nikon FM2 is an advanced semi-professional, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1982 to 2001. The original camera was released with some incremental improvements in 1984, and this later version is commonly referred to as the FM2n, although both versions are labelled as the FM2 on the front of the camera body.
The Nikon FA was an advanced amateur-level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by the Japanese optics company Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1983 to 1987. The FA used a titanium-bladed, vertical-travel Nikon-designed, Copal-made focal plane shutter with a speed range of 1 to 1/4000th second plus Bulb and flash X-sync of 1/250th second. It was available in two colors: black with chrome trim and all black. The introductory US list price for the chrome body only was $646. Note that SLRs usually sold for 30 to 40 percent below list price.
The Nikon FE2, interchangeable-lens, 35 mm film, single lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1983 to 1987. The FE2 used a Nikon-designed vertical-travel focal-plane shutter with a speed range of 8 to 1/4000th second, plus Bulb and flash X-sync of 1/250th second. It has dimensions of 90 millimetres (3.5 in) height, 142.5 mm (5.61 in) width, 57.5 mm (2.26 in) depth and 550 grams (19 oz) weight, and was available in two colors: black with chrome trim and all black. The introductory US list price for the chrome body only was $446. Note that SLRs usually sold for 30 to 40 percent below list price.
The Nikon FE is an advanced semi-professional level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nikon in Japan from 1978 to 1983, and was available new from dealer stock until c. 1984. The FE uses a metal-bladed, vertical-travel focal plane shutter with a speed range of 8 to 1/1000 second, plus Bulb, and flash X-sync of 1/125th second. It had dimensions of 89.5 millimetres (3.52 in) height, 142 mm (5.6 in) width, 57.5 mm (2.26 in) depth and 590 grams (21 oz) weight. It was available in two colors: black with chrome trim and all black. As on the FM, its model designation did not appear on the front of the camera, but was engraved as a small "FE" preceding the serial number on the rear of the housing.
The Nikon EM is a beginner's level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1979 to 1982. The camera was designed for and marketed to the growing market of new photographers then entering the SLR buyer's market. The EM uses a Seiko MFC-E focal plane shutter with a speed range of 1 to 1/1000 second plus Bulb and flash X-sync of 1/90 second. It is 86 mm (3.4 in) high, 135 mm (5.3 in) wide, 54 mm (2.1 in) deep and weighed 460 grams (16 oz). Unlike most Nikons of the time, it was available only in black. The EM has no full manual exposure mode capability, but instead was intended to be used by inexperienced photographers who could not easily master the intricacies of shutter speeds and f-stops. There were also significant changes to the EM's mechanical and electrical components to reduce its production cost relative to previous Nikon cameras: dimensional tolerances weren't as tight, there were no ball bearings in the film advance mechanism, and no high-quality titanium shutter. The introductory US list price for the body plus normal lens was only $231.
The Nikon FG is an interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from 1982 to 1986.
The Nikon F2 is a professional-level, interchangeable lens, 35 mm film, single-lens reflex (SLR) camera. It was manufactured by the Japanese optics company Nippon Kogaku K. K. in Japan from September 1971 to 1980. It used a horizontal-travel focal plane shutter with titanium shutter curtains and a speed range of 1 to 1/2000 second plus Bulb and Time, and flash X-sync of 1/80 second. It had dimensions of 98 mm height, 152.5 mm width, 65 mm depth and 730 g weight. It was available in two colors: black with chrome trim and all black.
The history of the single-lens reflex camera (SLR) begins with the use of a reflex mirror in a camera obscura described in 1676, but it took a long time for the design to succeed for photographic cameras. The first patent was granted in 1861, and the first cameras were produced in 1884, but while elegantly simple in concept, they were very complex in practice. One by one these complexities were overcome as optical and mechanical technology advanced, and in the 1960s the SLR camera became the preferred design for many high-end camera formats.
Nikkormat was a brand of cameras produced by the Japanese optics company Nippon Kogaku K. K., as a consumer version of the professional Nikon brand. Nikkormat cameras, produced from 1965 until 1978, were simpler and more affordable than Nikon-branded cameras, but accepted the same lenses as the Nikon F series cameras.
Yashica was a Japanese manufacturer of cameras, originally active from 1949 until 2005 when its then-owner, Kyocera, ceased production.
The Nikkorex nameplate was used for a series of 35 mm film, single-lens reflex cameras sold by Japanese optical manufacturer Nippon Kogaku K.K., as well as a series movie cameras and movie projectors. The models, made by other companies, were designed and marketed as low-cost, feature-reduced equipment for the consumer market.
This article discusses the cameras – mainly 35 mm SLRs – manufactured by Pentax Ricoh Imaging Corp. and its predecessors, Pentax Corporation and Asahi Optical Co., Ltd..
In 1959, Nippon Kogaku sold Nikkor lenses to Shinkodo (Bronica Corporation, current Tamron Corporation) which made for Zenza Bronica medium-format SLR cameras.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Zenza Bronica cameras .|