Bronica S2A focusing problems

bronica-s2a-nikkor-h-50mm Bronica S2A focusing problems

Bronica cameras usually are very sturdy. You can find them in excellent condition, despite their considerable age. But unfortunately, any complex mechanism has weaknesses. Many users complain that they are having trouble focusing. Lens doesn’t reach to infinity and on the finale negatives there are quite a lot of misfocused frames. The problem lies in the fact that the sealing foam loses its properties over time, turning into a sticky mess. In this short article I will explain to you how to solve this problem. Also I’ll describe the option of replacing the standard focusing screen to a brighter one with a split image.

We’ll need:
1. Flat-blade screwdriver
2. New seal. Here you can improvise. Personally, I have used self-adhesive sealing for windows (it’s useful, no need to mess around with glue, easy to cut). You can take an ordinary household sponge, foam from cases or other sufficiently dense foam material.
3. Glue (for non-self-adhesive seal)
4. Household cleaner

 

 So, let’s begin. Remove the waist level finder:
bronica-s2a-focusirovka Bronica S2A focusing problems
Unscrew the four screws that secure the metal frame. Under the two screws holding the metal bracket that secure the waist level finder there are two brass washers and small steel pads. Be careful, don’t lose them. Caution! The screws are made of a very soft metal. It is easy to damage them. Use a well sharpened screwdriver of the correct size:
bronica-s2a-focusirovka-2 Bronica S2A focusing problems
Now we see the camera body, the waist level finder bracket, the Fresnel lens, the ground glass and the metal frame that fixes all these parts together:
bronica-s2a-focusirovka-3 Bronica S2A focusing problems
1. Body 2. Waist level finder bracket 3. Fresnel lens 4. Ground glass 5. Fixing metal frame
Here’s a close-up:
bronica-s2a-focusirovka-4 Bronica S2A focusing problems
1. Fresnel lens 2. Ground glass 3. Fixing metal frame
On the back side of the frame, we will see the old sealing foam. Most likely, a matte screen is firmly glued to the frame. Our goal is to remove the old seal and clean the matte screen. Carefully separate the matte screen from the metal frame. Try not to touch the matte surface! Simply, put it in a weak solution of water and household cleaner. Then rinse it with clear water. It is very important not to touch the matte surface of the screen! You can damage it. Now clean the metal frame with any alcohol-containing cleaner. Let it dry.
Do the same thing that you did with the matte screen with the Fresnel lens. Try not to touch the surface with concentric circles. If dirt gets between these “ribs” it will be almost impossible to remove it.
Then apply the new sealant on the frame. Make a thicker layer than is needed to make sure it will give enough pressure:
bronica-s2a-focusirovka-5 Bronica S2A focusing problems

If desired, you can black paint the seal with a permanent marker.
Do not be amiss to slightly bend up the top edges of the metal springs. This will provide a more secure fit of the Fresnel lens to the matte surface:

bronica-s2a-focusirovka-6 Bronica S2A focusing problems
Putting all this mess in the reverse order. First, put the Fresnel lens on springs. Important! Put it with the ribbed side up (the smooth side facing the mirror). The lens is a rectangular shape, so setting it in the correct position will not cause any difficulties:bronica-s2a-focusirovka-7 Bronica S2A focusing problems
Now we come to an interesting part. At this point, you can install the original matte screen, or use a brighter screen with a split image, which you can purchase on Ebay for example. Since the locking system of the focusing screen is simple and flexible, the thickness and the size of the new matte screen are irrelevant (within reason). The important thing is that the new matte screen should be without the Fresnel lens on the upper surface (there is no need in two Fresnels lenses)So, put the matte side of the screen to the mirror (the smooth side watching us):
bronica-s2a-focusirovka-8 Bronica S2A focusing problems

I also tried to put the matte screen directly, bypassing the Fresnel lens. But unfortunately, the focus became completely misaligned and needed some serious readjustment. I have postponed this option until better times.

We come to the last step. Install the frame and fasten all the screws back. The seal, which stands out from under the frame can be easily tucked by using any wooden or soft plastic stick (or something like that).

bronica-s2a-focusirovka-9 Bronica S2A focusing problems
Checking the quality of work is very simple. Press slightly on the focusing screen. Particularly along the edges. If there is no backlash, congratulations! The seal tightly presses the entire structure. Now you can shoot!
Bronica S2A focusing problems

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