Fuji 645 vs MF SLR 645

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by puketronic, Nov 30, 2011.

  1. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    I'm thinking about grabbing a 35mm/28mm MF camera for handheld/street use. I'm torn between the Fuji and Pentax/Mamiya 645 cameras. The first one has the compactness and mirror-less operation, but it is essentially a MF point-and-shoot; the latter has manual focus and (I think) better lenses but they are much bulkier in comparison.

    I'm not a street or portrait photographer so stealth and 1st rate bokeh are not my priorities. I just want a MF camera that I can walk around the city with.

    Don't see too many complaints about either camera, really, but for those of you who have or had tried both, which do you prefer?
     
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  2. TimmyMac

    TimmyMac Subscriber

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    I've got both Fuji GA645 and a 3-lens M645 kit. Use the Fuji for walk-and-shoot, the SLRs are much more involving to shoot.

    The Fuji lenses are AT LEAST as good as either pentax or mamiya.
     
  3. flatulent1

    flatulent1 Subscriber

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    I use a Mamiya 645 Pro with waist level finder and crank for the rare street shooting I do. Works fine. Staring down into the finder makes it a little less obvious that I'm taking a picture than holding it at eye level does.
     
  4. agfarapid

    agfarapid Member

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    I've got a GS645 as well as a couple of M645 bodies--a Super and the original Mamiya 645. The Fuji is small and compact for the street (mine is not one of the auto everything models) whereas I use my Mamiya's usually with the WL finder which is also good for unobtrusive street shooting. Which one I take usually depends on how light I want to travel. I generally use the Mamiya's for landscapes and my Fuji for quite street. It's great for shooting in museums and art galleries!
     
  5. keithwms

    keithwms Member

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    You can't really go wrong with any of these, they're all very fine. I would think about the light (do you need fast lenses?), how much reach you need (do you need a tele?), and whether interchangeable lenses and backs are important. Also think about where you plan to be in a year or two i.e. whether you will augment the camera with another body or another lens.
     
  6. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    A Bronica ETR series with a 50mm lens and a simple prism is a nice street shooter. Waist level if you want to be tied to horizontal format and the reversal works for you, AE prism if you want to not think about metering. No need to add a grip, I found.

    I've found with both a Bronica and more so a TLR, looking down into a waist level finder makes you disappear from people's radar on the street all in all.

    I used a Fuji 645 for a few days.Very nice, very quick, great lens. That kind of view finder is a very different way of framing than an SLR's (or TlR's) ground glass. I just started using a Fuji GW690 on the street and it's a kick.
     
  7. TimVermont

    TimVermont Subscriber

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    Lens quality on any of the Fuji's is superb, so that need not be an issue in your decision.
     
  8. Pupfish

    Pupfish Member

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    The Pentax 645N and 35mm combo is the only reason I am shooting MF in my mix of formats and cameras. The lens is spectacular and a bargain (even though they're now selling for nearly twice what I picked mine up for some years back.) The camera is not physically larger than a large 35mm SLR like an F5. The viewfinder is better than a 35mm SLR (yes, even the F5). It is very handholdable down to very slow shutter speeds as it has a well-damped mirror, at least it is for me (I've gotten tack sharp results to 1/8s, handheld).
    Can't speak to the Fuji, but two things an SLR has over a RF is no focusing parallax error, and no parallax framing differences.
     
  9. puketronic

    puketronic Member

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    Hmmm thanks for all of your thoughts and opinions. I'm going to be visiting NYC in a few months and I'm wanting a wide-lens mf camera that doesn't scream photographer. The quickness and compactness of the fuji rangefinder is hard to beat for a 120 camera outside of the much more expensive Mamiya and Bronica RF's.
     
  10. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I have a Fuji GA645zi and had a Pentax 645 at one time. The good about the Fuji is the size and ease of use. The zoom lens is as good as most primes. Shooting handheld, the lack of mirror probably makes more difference than the quality of the lens anyway. The bad thing about my Fuji is the loud focusing and film advance. I'm not sure how the other Fuji 645s are in that regard. The Pentax is amazingly quiet. I generally use my Fuji handheld for the kind of stuff you are talking about. Here is a shot at about 1/15s at 55mm. The relatively slow lens is really not much of a hindrance since it is easy to handhold at a pretty slow shutter speed. Here is an image with more average light. This was also at 55mm with an orange filter (I think). I was riding a bike and just had it slung over my shoulder with some film and filters in my pocket. Tough to do that with an SLR.
     
  11. msbarnes

    msbarnes Member

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    hmmm...I'm wondering is the GS645S as rugged as the GA645? I get the impression that the build for the GS645S is a little poor, but I also feel like these cameras are more rugged than how they feel.
     
  12. Mark Fisher

    Mark Fisher Subscriber

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    I found the 645zi durable so far and I haven't babied it. That said, there are a lot of electronics on the 645s and I wouldn't think they'd be as durable as the 6x7 or 6x9 Fujis since they have very little automation.
     
  13. Brian C. Miller

    Brian C. Miller Member

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    I have both the Fuji 645zi and the Pentax 645 (not N). The Fuji weighs 2 pounds, and the Pentax weighs more, enough to be a bother. Both of the motor winders make noise. The Fuji takes 1sec to focus, while the Pentax is full manual, and for me a little more flexible. The Fuji is a point-and-shoot on serious steroids, and the Pentax is an SLR with some beef. Both have really good lenses, but I haven't done a side-by-side test.

    If getting the decisive moment is important, don't use an AF camera like the Fuji. If you don't mind going through a tad more work to make a photograph, take a look at using a TLR. I have a Yashica 635 (6x6 and 35mm) and it's compact and weighs the same as the Fuji 645zi.

    I don't really have a definite favorite for MF cameras. They all have a niche.
     
  14. rrocco

    rrocco Subscriber

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    I have a Pentax 645N system and a Fuji GS 645 Folder. I love both cameras and each is excellent in its own way.

    The fuji is one of the smallest cameras I have and the images it produces has a special feel to them- very sharp and great bokeh. It has rangefinder focus and a built in meter (no auto exposure) and in the normal shooting position the frame is vertical. For a folder it is very sturdy and it's portability cannot be understated for a medium format camera- can fit in my jacket pocket easily. Also allows you manual focus which the newer AF models do not.

    The Pentax is not huge but also will not go unnoticed and is pretty loud firing off a shot compared to a soft click of the fuji. It can fit into a relatively small camera bag with extra lens and accessories. The auto focus is decent but not like a quality 35mm SLR or DSLR. The viewfinder is awesome and manual focus is a real pleasure. Have many choices and high quality lenses to choose from. Handles just like a 35mm SLR and has great internal metering (spot, matrix, ect). Unlike the fuji, I typically have a more deliberate plan when taking it out- don't just grab it and go.

    In the end both could suit your needs. It depends on what level of flexibility you desire, size consideration, and shooting preference (RF vs SLR).

    I'm keeping both!:D
     
  15. Fragomeni

    Fragomeni Subscriber

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    If you want a small and light unobtrusive MF camera with a wide lens for street then look no further then the Fuji GS645W. The Fuji cameras are all great as far as optics and functionality go but many of the various models have significant design flaws which are typically the only thing you hear as far as complaints go with them. The GS645W is the only Fuji that does not have crappy bellows or a poorly designed lens mount that requires a bumper to protect the lens from ripping off at the slightest bump. The GS645W has a 45mm (nice and wide on 645) f5.6 lens that rivals the sharpness of any MF or 35mm camera including Hasselblad and Leica. The GS645W is a Zone Focus camera which would scare some people off but this is what makes it practically designed for street photography. Talk to as many street photographers as you can and you'll hear a great many of them (although certainly not all of them) explain the importance of shooting from the hip in street work. Shooting from the hip is achieved by zone focusing the camera and training yourself to frame your shot and make the exposure with the camera inconspicuously at the hip i.e. not bringing it up to your face to compose and focus. In reality many opportunities to capture the decisive moments in street work would be missed if you took the time to raise the camera to focus and compose with every possible scenario. If you're not familiar with Zone Focusing you can find good info on it within the forum and all over Google. I would highly encourage you to learn about it (if you're not already well versed in it) and not rule out the GS645W simply because it doesn't have typical rangefinder or SLR style focusing. In the end you'll very likely be using zone focusing heavily in your street work.
     
  16. TimVermont

    TimVermont Subscriber

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    +1 on Francesco's comment.
     
  17. fefed

    fefed Member

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    Hi all,
    fast question!
    What would I gain/lose in terms of lens and build quality and, mostly, life expectancy of the camera, if I choose wether a "GS" or a "GA"?
     
  18. RattyMouse

    RattyMouse Subscriber

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    Fuji doesnt make bad lenses. You can just eliminate that from your consideration. ALL Fujinon MF lenses are spectacular.

    None of these Fuji cameras are super sturdy so care must be taken when traveling with them. The GA series is all electronic and you know how well that can introduce problems.

    I bought a GA645 last year and it developed a problem in the selection knob. A quick cleaning fixed that and it works fine. Great camera, fantastic for travel.
     
  19. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    You didn't specify which Fuji 645 you are looking at. The last models were auto-focus. I had the manual focus GS645 for a while. I liked it but it took a little getting used to. It wasn't easy to shoot quickly at first but with practice one could get better. One thing you should consider is that as far as I know all of the Fuji 645 rangefinders are portrait oriented, so if you want to take landscape oriented photos you have to rotate the camera 90 degrees.

    As for the SLR options, if you are OK with manual focus the Bronica or Mamiya are the most affordable. And like several others said, using a WLF should be quite helpful for street photography. I have both but almost always use the metered prism finders for convenience. But my personal favorite is the Pentax 645n. I don't bother with the AF lenses and just love everything about this camera, although I don't know if it would be the best for your needs.

    Finally, 28mm or 35mm in medium format is really wide. Are you sure that's what you want or were you taking about 35mm equivalent focal lengths? I have the Pentax 35/3.5 and the Mamiya 35/3.5 and both are sweet lenses.
     
  20. okto

    okto Member

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    Look into finding a good Iskra. The camera is FSU quality, comrade, but that lens is something special. Folds up small, too. It won't fit in a pants pocket, but it'll fit in a coat pocket no problem.