Bronica SQ-Ai Battery Problem – sometimes it is really simple

The Zenza Bronica SQ series SLRs are capable, relatively young medium format SLRs which still trade at reasonable prices and are capable of delivering high quality results. Unfortunately, they are not problem free.

The SQ-Ai series -the youngest of the lot- has a reputation for poor battery contacts. Instead of one 4LR44 battery, the SQ-Ai actually takes literally 4 LR44 batteries which are placed in a flat holder.

 

 

The batteries connect to the camera on one side only with separate contacts on the metal plate and directly to the battery through the opening in the centre of the holder.

The contacts within the camera itself are likewise on the upper side of the housing. If things go as planned, the batteries should simply connect once the battery holder is inserted. As usual,  a number of things can go wrong here, and when they do, the electronically timed shutter simply won’t fire at anything other than 1/500th of a second.

Dirty contacts are one of the usual suspects, but the SQ-Ai has another option: slim batteries.

In my case, the batteries are about 0.4mm thinner than the space in the battery holder. Enough to insert a piece of thin cardboard into the gap without effort. Depending on the position of the battery, this may or may not cause problems. For a while, the camera will work fine. Then, suddenly, it won’t fire and the test button will produce no battery signal.

The connection can often be restored by gently pressing on the battery cover. The solution then should be obvious.

By sliding a small piece of cardboard below each battery, the button cells will be pushed up far enough to make contact. I found the cardboard from an Ilford 120 film pack to be suitable, and prepared my battery holder accordingly.

 

 

It is crude, it is simple and it works.

10 Replies to “Bronica SQ-Ai Battery Problem – sometimes it is really simple”

  1. Thank you. My SQ-Ai shutter wasn’t firing at all. I’d read that with dead batteries the shutter would fire at 1/500 but this isn’t the case for me. I thought my camera was bust after trying new batteries but this trick works.

  2. What a legend. I was having lots of intermittent problems with the light meter (in my eye-level finder) not working and the shutter only firing when it felt like it. This solved everything!!

  3. Good day everyone. I just acquired a SQ-Ai body in almost mint condition. I also have an SQ-B in mint condition.

    However, the Ai came without that battery holder, rendering the body useless.

    Any ideas on obtaining a battery holder? Please advise.

    1. I can spontaneously think of two approaches:
      1. if you know or can locate somebody with a 3D printer, you may be able to get a 3D scanned version printed:
      https://www.thingiverse.com/thing:3185359

      2. Try second hand accessories. Unlikely that the original battery holder will be sold on its own. Alternatives would be an external battery pack (bulky & expensive) or an external motor winder grip (again, an expensive solution but more practical).

  4. Thanks Boris,

    I’m working on the 3D printing option, so yes, I do have access to a printer. I’ll need to figure out the metal connectors next. That is still a bit of a mystery right now.

    I did see the external power packs on EBay, but they are $100US and bulky. As you stated.

    I bought the SQ-Ai from EBay in Japan, and I’m trying to get the seller to ‘fess-up’ that he sold me a camera body that is not usable. Even though his description said the unit functions as it should.

    His first response to me was; “just load the batteries”. Obviously he does not understand the SQ-Ai and the need for the holder.

  5. Boris and others,

    I forgot to ask this; Can anyone post detailed images of the metal tabs that are part of the battery holder?

    From the pictures posted above, I can not see all the sides of those metal tabs.

    Any help, much appreciated.

    Once I fabricate my replacement battery holder I will post my results on this forum.

    Thanks again,

    Steve

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