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Thread: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

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    Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    On the camera and its lenses I mean. More specifically GW690III and GSW690III.
    UPDATE:* Also the G690 with interchangeable lenses.*
    How do you feel about the camera and recommended lenses, do you even like it. How it may compare today, despite being film, maybe alternatives?


    Any help will be most appreciated.

    Thank you,
    Po
    Last edited by pophoto; 12th May 2012 at 20:11.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    The GSW690III's lens is one of the "sharpest" I've used. Even with the camera's basic film pressure plate, drum scans were superb. It looks, sounds and feels like a toy, but it's a wonderful camera. It's the only reason I still have a brick of 220 in the freezer.

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    Senior Member mathomas's Avatar
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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Fabulous camera. Here are some shots from my flickr account:

    Photos tagged 'fuji gw690iii'

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Thanks for the share guys, I see "sunny 16" works well with the camera!
    Any quirks to be aware of?
    Anything you love over this now in digital, or irreplaceable?

    Also have you guys ever had one serviced, since I might be picking one up from the bay? Any recommendations?

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I've used both a GW and GSWIII - both 6x9. The lens and viewfinder magnifcation is basically the only difference.

    I've also used the Mamiya 6 rangefinder from the '90s and the 50mm is quite better than the GSW wide open. By f/11, the GSW is very very good, I feel it peaks by f/13. At that aperture it's sharp across the frame, enviably so.

    I avoid shooting my GSW below f/11 unless I really need the extra light.
    The GW is sharp from go.

    As Schuster says, the Fuji version III RF bodies feel comically plastic and oversized, but they are really serious tools. An appropriately filtered 6x9 black and white negative can really be astounding.

    Then, there are the 6x9 Velvia shots...

    Quirks, you ask? Don't be afraid to buy one that has the lens hood removed. The slide-out design is pretty dorky in my opinion because when retracted you can't access the f/stops or shutter speeds on the lens. And when extended, most any filter system besides a standard screw in...is screwed.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    [QUOTE=sirimiri;The slide-out design is pretty dorky in my opinion because when retracted you can't access the f/stops or shutter speeds on the lens. And when extended, most any filter system besides a standard screw in...is screwed.[/QUOTE]

    ... and it blocks about 1/3 of your viewfinder!

    But ya gotta love it.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Biggest quirk IMO: the shutter doesn't have a B setting, only an awkward T setting. You have to either crank the advance lever or twist the hard-to-grasp shutter speed ring to close the shutter on the T setting.

    I've owned the GW690II twice - I still have one of them. The lens is very competent. I don't especially care for the way it renders distant OOF backgrounds, but nearby OOF backgrounds, as for example in indoor portraits, can be lovely.

    The Mamiya 6/7 glass has a completely different feel, with the MTF emphasizing resolution as if optimized for the newer films like TMX or Delta 100.

    The G690, with the interchangeable lenses, is a real brick - close to 5 pounds with the 100. (The GW690 with fixed 90 is more like 3 pounds.) At this point it's hard to find a G690-series camera that isn't bruised and battered.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Oops: servicing. Last time I had a GW690II serviced, it was by Fuji USA. I don't know whether they're still doing them. Bob Watkins (Precision Camera Works) is also reliable and is experienced with both Fuji and Mamiya MF rangefinders.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Fuji USA still services these cameras as well as the Fuji GX680

    Fuji MF lenses are excellent. The look of the large 6x9 capture is quite something. Some things about the images can't even be matched by MFDigital due to MF digital being sub 645.

    To give you an idea here is an example of what Fuji lenses can do....

    Fuji GX 680 250mm



    that is a crop from here....


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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I'd never even heard of the G690 with the interchangeable lenses. Pray tell!
    I am not a painter, nor an artist. Therefore I can see straight, and that may be my undoing. - Alfred Stieglitz

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Ben Rubinstein View Post
    I'd never even heard of the G690 with the interchangeable lenses. Pray tell!
    The 6x9 Photography Online Resource - Fujica G690 Series

    Dante Stella on the G690BL

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Thanks guys!

    FreBGG: One of my all time favorite portraits, and I mean it!
    But come on, you're talking about the GX 680 and not the GW690III on the rangefinder type :P

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    The GW and GSW had incredible glass and I loved using them. I never owned the G690 -- wanted one, but never found a working kit -- I heard the body electronics were problematic...
    Jack
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    "Perfection is not attainable. But if we chase perfection, we can catch excellence."

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    I never owned the G690 -- wanted one, but never found a working kit -- I heard the body electronics were problematic...
    Jack, you may be confusing it with something else - the body has no electronics. It's a purely mechanical camera. The only electronics in the entire system* are in the 100mm AE lens. The regular 100 will indeed be a better bet for most.

    *PS for nitpickers - yes, Dante Stella says there was a flash offered with the system in the home market.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I'm using a GW690III as my walk-around camera. I love the camera for what it is, a really compact light-weight 6x9 rangefinder with great optics. The Fuji 6x9 rangefinders go by the nickname Texas-Leicas. Here are my pros and cons, some of these have already been mentioned.

    Pros:
    The camera is relatively small and lightweight (1460g incl. lens) considering the 56x82 mm capture format which is larger than IMAX and twice the area of 645
    The 90mm is a great lens that is relatively fast and already pretty sharp wide open at f/3.5 in the center of the frame and thus usable for shallow DOF portraits. When stopped down to f/5.6 it's already getting excellent throughout the frame with an optimum performance in the f/8-11 range. On f/16 you can already see some loss in contrast from diffraction but it's still excellent. It's only in the very far corners where the lens is noticeably softer than the rest of the frame. Fuji used the same lenses for their 6x7 and 6x8 rangefinders. Of course the 6x9 format is the most demanding on the IC.
    Excellent image quality, I'd consider it as one of the best when it comes to handheld photography.
    It's a film camera with all the great properties that film brings to photography
    The rangefinder focusing is pretty accurate on mine.
    The central leaf shutter and lack mirror slap allows excellent handheld results at fairly slow shutter speeds and flash sync up to 1/500.
    2nd shutter release button for portrait orientation
    shutter release lock lever to avoid accidental triggering
    completely mechanical camera, no battery, no electronics
    built-in bubble level
    takes 120 and 220 film
    Cheap! I paid $750 for mine with a very low shutter count.

    Cons:
    When your subject has some depth and you're trying to align your composition, e.g. in architecture, the viewfinder is not as accurate as an SLR.
    The lens blocks some of the viewfinder.
    The viewfinder is dimmer than a Leica M. The rangefinder patch is also quite dim and not as large as on a Leica M.
    The built quality feels cheap compared to a Leica M. On the other hand it's not in the same price range, and the feel that you don't have a multi-thousand dollar camera around your neck can be relaxing.
    The T shutter setting is a joke: I love the T-setting on my Copal LF shutters. On the Fuji you open the shutter by pressing the release button. But to close the shutter you need to either forward the film or change the shutter speed on the lens. So it forces you into physical contact with the camera before the shutter is closed. I'm using the lens cap to block the light path before closing the shutter to avoid motion blur. Shutter speeds in the 2-4 seconds range are almost impossible to achieve this way.
    No option for double exposure. So if you accidently left the lens cap on while releasing the shutter which is a common mistake with a rangefinder you've wasted the frame.
    I wish Fuji had used a few more aperture blades. The pentagon shaped out of focus rendering from distant light sources when shooting slightly stopped down can be distracting.
    Closest focus distance is 1m.
    Requires external metering which might slow you down a little.
    Non-interchangeable lens: There is only the GSW 65mm wide angle body alternative. With this concept Fuji could calibrate each lens to the body and thus avoid inaccuracy from tolerances in the lens mount. My Leica M was several time in Solms for recalibration of the rangefinder to the lens.
    It's only 8 frames per 120 film which can be a good thing if you want to try different films throughout the shooting.

    Here is a sample shot handheld on Kodak E100G (f/5.6 at 1/250 or f/8 at 1/125, cannot remember exactly; slightly underexposed) and two crops when sampled to 201 MP (5334 ppi):
    Please use the right-click view image function of your browser to see the samples in their proper size.





    At this magnification the CA from the lens on high contrast edges is visible.

    Another sample shot at f/5.6 for 1/30 on Fuji Provia 400X:


    The crops are from the scan sized to 81 MP (3378 ppi):

    The motion blur from the slow shutter speed is visible but 1/30 is definitely usable handheld with the 90mm lens on this camera.



    The best alternative to the Fuji 6x9 rangefinders though a little more pricey is the Mamiya 7II with its highly recommended lenses. I never owned one. So I'm not sure how the Mamiya lenses compare to the Fuji. From the samples I've seen I would assume they are in the same league, and it comes down to the questions if the Fujis cover enough range for your needs, or if you're planning to shoot slides for projection then 6x7 offers this option.

    -Dominique

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Biggest quirk IMO: the shutter doesn't have a B setting, only an awkward T setting.
    Generally speaking, I much prefer a (T)ime shutter setting to a (B)ulb option, for a camera like the G(S)W series.

    It's easier to keep the cap handy, which you just slip over the lens when you're done, than to hold a plunger or squeeze a bulb constantly in your hands, for the duration of any exposure over 10 seconds.

    Though, you may be less jittery than me.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    Jack, you may be confusing it with something else - the body has no electronics. It's a purely mechanical camera. The only electronics in the entire system* are in the 100mm AE lens. The regular 100 will indeed be a better bet for most.

    *PS for nitpickers - yes, Dante Stella says there was a flash offered with the system in the home market.
    Oren, I am pretty sure the ones I was looking at had internal metering, one version even offering AV exposure capability. I am sure the earliest had none of that. I was always surprised the later fixed lens versions had no meter, but again I heard they did that because of reliability issues.
    Jack
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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Jack View Post
    Oren, I am pretty sure the ones I was looking at had internal metering, one version even offering AV exposure capability. I am sure the earliest had none of that. I was always surprised the later fixed lens versions had no meter, but again I heard they did that because of reliability issues.
    'Tain't so. The only Fuji MF rangefinders that have ever had internal metering are the 645-format ones. All of those have had a meter. None of the 6x7/6x8/6x9 rangefinders ever had a meter.

    The aperture-priority AE for the G690 series was provided by the (optional) 100mm AE lens, which can be used on any of the G690-series bodies but obviously not on the fixed-lens GW series that followed. The battery and electronics for shutter control are contained entirely within the lens, nothing to do with the camera.

    EDIT: I've owned the GS645S and the G690BL, in addition to the GW690II. The G690 is one bodacious camera, if you've been pumping iron. But no meter. The other G690's were minor variations on the same basic model. Sebastien Lallement's site, linked above, has all the details.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by SCHWARZZEIT View Post
    I'm using a GW690III as my walk-around camera. I love the camera for what it is, a really compact light-weight 6x9 rangefinder with great optics. ...
    Great review, very informative!

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    'Tain't so. The only Fuji MF rangefinders that have ever had internal metering are the 645-format ones. All of those have had a meter. None of the 6x7/6x8/6x9 rangefinders ever had a meter.
    Okay, thanks -- must have been looking at one withteh 100 mounted then. An aging mind is a terrible thing
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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I liked the GSW690 III tremendously: The huge negative, the aspect ratio, being able to print the borders of the film with the "Fujifilm Acros" markings visible. For street shooting, I felt it made people smile, maybe because it looks so improbably large, like a toy or movie prop. However..! While it can capture fabulous amounts of detail, if you don't hold it really steady, the advantage versus 6x4.5 or even 35mm is quickly lost, and of course the 6x9 format eats film like my old Mustang used to drink 92 octane.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I've owned a GSW690III for many years and still love it, however, I've recently bought a Voigtlander Bessa 667W and can wholeheartedly recommend it. The lens is just as sharp as on the GSW690III but is slightly wider (equivalent to a 27mm lens rather than 28mm), AND it has an in-built lightmeter that is bang on accurate. Love it!

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by Oren Grad View Post
    None of the 6x7/6x8/6x9 rangefinders ever had a meter.
    Ack... hoist with my own petard: the exceptions, of course, are the current GF670 and GF670W (Bessa III 667 and 667W) cameras. Excellent cameras, though the W is very pricey.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by pophoto View Post
    Thanks guys!

    FreBGG: One of my all time favorite portraits, and I mean it!
    But come on, you're talking about the GX 680 and not the GW690III on the rangefinder type :P
    I posted them to show how good Fuji lenses are in general.

    Martin Schoeller uses the Fuji rangefinders.

    Martin Schoeller for Time Magazine - YouTube

    Martin Schoeller

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    I love those GW690 cameras - I have used them (and 645zi) while traveling around the world a decade or so ago. They do take up a lot of volume in my pack though. At the end I used 645zi more because it was smaller size and easier to manage. 690 was more of a tripod camera.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    One-hand-held GSW690III through windshield of moving car. Neg film drum scanned.

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    Re: Fuji 6x9, any experiences?

    Quote Originally Posted by FredBGG View Post
    I posted them to show how good Fuji lenses are in general.

    Martin Schoeller uses the Fuji rangefinders.

    Martin Schoeller for Time Magazine - YouTube

    Martin Schoeller
    Fred

    Were you able to use your Phase 1 back with the Fuji?

    I see somewhere there is a stiching back available for the Fuji, is this adaptable to a Phase 1 digital back?

    I am thinking that this camera might be a more suitable camera for my uses than the Cambo WDS I have where I only have one 35mm lens -

    A second hand Fuji and some lenses would give me movements at less cost than just one TS lens for the Cambo.

    The camera is not for commercial work rather just my own self expression so if the lenses are not quite as sharp it may still be very workable.

    Thanks for your help in advance.


    Mal

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