I love my Bronny – it’s my most used medium format camera I have, well any camera I have, apart from the iPhone.
But I have now witnessed two instances of the same problem with the Ai body. It’s the battery holder. All the earlier models of the last batch of SQ series of bodies used a single 6 volt 544 type battery.
But, the latest of the SQ versions, the Ai model, some bright spark decided that rather use one battery, that they would use 4 x LR44 1.5 volt button batteries, that fit into a removable holder
Even this wouldn’t have been that bad if the holder wired each of the fours batteries in series thus giving the camera body just two connection terminals and a total supply voltage of 6volts.
But No. The designer decided to wire the four batteries in parallel and therefore provide a total of EIGHT terminals to connect the four 1.5v cells. What a really stupid idea that has proved to be.
While I have only just started to suffer the downside of this battery and holder assembly, my partner Sandi’s SQ-Ai has suffered from this flaw ever since she got it.
So what’s the problem then? Well it’s intermittent battery/terminal contact.
It seems that after a while, the terminal springs either loose their tension OR the terminals themselves get dirty and cause contact with one or more cells to be lost. Hoping it was the latter, I would regularly clean the terminals with a contact cleaner, but when that stopped working, had to resort to the fibreglass pencil brush to give the contacts a little wipe.
After a while this stopped working and it wasn’t till I found that if your pressed the battery cover down, only then would battery contact me made and the camera would work again.
This would seem to indicate that the terminal springs are beginning to weaken and not cause a positive contact with the battery cell or cells. The only way to cure this is to add a thin spacer on top of the battery holder cassette before you close the battery compartment cover.
The thickness of this spacer seems to be either one or two layers of 120 film. How long this continues to work is anyone’s guess, but on a recent outing even that failed to ensure that the camera would fire on every shutter button pushed. This was the final straw and she has decided that enough is enough and has just ordered a Pentax 645N from a dealer in Japan.
The problem now, is that my Ai is now needing a spacer to get those contacts to ….. well contact.
I may well send the body for servicing – as it’s never been serviced since I got it, but in the meantime, I have decided to order an earlier SQ body and have the peace of mind that when I press the shutter button, that the camera will actually fire.
The new toy with speed grip is on its way, so watch this space.