Bronica Motor Drive SQ-i

I recently got a Bronica SQ-Ai medium format film camera which came with the Motor Drive SQ-i. Since I couldn’t find any documentation at all about it on the internet and had to figure it out for myself I figured I’d put what I figured out here. Hopefully this will help the next person trying to figure one out, or at least by virtue of being wrong on the internet I’ll be able to get someone who knows what they’re doing to tell me how the thing really works.

Bottom plate
Bottom plate of drive

The motor drive attaches to the camera using the tripod socket, a replacement tripod socket is provided on the base of plate. There’s also a metal plate with the bottom of the hand grip attached to it held on to the base plate with a thumb screw. When this is released it gives access to the screw holding in the battery compartment which (very conveniently) takes 6 AA batteries. This also provides power to the camera body when attached.

Bottom plate with battery compartment visible
Bottom plate with battery compartment visible

 

On the back of the base of the camera there’s a button with a red LED next to it which illuminates slightly when the button is pressed (it’s visible in low light only). I’m not 100% sure what this is for, I’d have guessed a battery check if the light were easier to see.

Top of drive
Top of drive

 

On the top of the camera there is a hot shoe (with a plastic blanking plate, a nice touch), a mode selector and two buttons. The larger button on the front replicates the shutter release button on the body (which continues to function as well) while the smaller button to the rear of the camera controls the motor – depending on the current state of the camera it cocks the shutter, winds the film and resets the mirror when it is locked up. The mode dial offers three modes: off, S and C. S and C appear to correspond to the S and C modes of the main camera, single and continuous mirror lockup shots.

Overall with this grip fitted and a prism attached the camera operates very similarly to a 35mm SLR in terms of film winding and so on. It is of course heavier (the whole setup weighs in at 2.5kg) but balanced very well and the grip is very comfortable to use.

4 thoughts on “Bronica Motor Drive SQ-i

  1. Hello, thank you for the information in this article. I have a question though, does the grip portion need to be attached to the camera body to operate? I realize the question seems a bit strange, I have a grip for this camera but no camera to attach it to so any insight would be appreciated. Thank you

  2. Hi, I’ve recently found a bronica sq-ai motor drive and I’d like to sell it.. but I don’t own the camera and have no real way of testing it. So my question is similar to jeremiah’s question actually. Is there anything that this winder can do when not attached to the camera so I can be somewhat sure that it works. When i put in the batteries the only thing that seems to work is that small red light at the base of the winder… I’m guessing its a battery check.

    Would you be kind enough to try and disconnect your working winder from the camera and see if yours does anything?

    I’d be really thankful.

    Kind regards,
    Ivor

    1. I’m actually waiting for a spare spring for the battery compartment so it doesn’t work at all right now unfortunately (probably a week or something to wait for the spring). I don’t remember it doing anything without the body – there’s some interlock to stop it winding beyond the end of the roll and to do the initial wind on so I think it’s relying on signals from the body. Will check when I get it working again.

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