Fuji 6x9

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by eddie, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    I'm seriously considering purchasing a Fuji 6x9 for an upcoming trip to the Caribbean, in June. I'm shooting a job for a boutique hotel (which, believe it or not, is being done with a Diana). I normally travel there with 4x5, Rolleiflex, and a few plastic cameras. During my normal 3 week stay, I usually shoot about 30-40 sheets, 15-20 rolls of 120 with the Rollei, and an equal number with the plastic cameras. This trip, I'd like to shoot more (and carry less), and think the Fuji can give me that ability. Aside from the assignment, I'd be shooting B&W in order to print up to 20x24 for hand-coloring. If I bought one Fuji, I'd probably still take the 4x5 but, if I bought 2 Fujis (one with 65mm/one with 90mm) I'd probably leave the 4x5 at home.
    My questions are: Anyone with recent experience with the Fuji's? Is there a preference between the different models (I,II,III)? Have you made 20x24 enlargements from the negatives? Any input appreciated... Thanks.
     
  2. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I dig them, they are pretty neat, and are not that humongous once you carry one for a bit. Probably a piece of cake for you since your used to lugging a 4x5 around. I have both the 90mm and the 65mm models from the series II. Both lenses are quite nice, I havent put that much use into the 65mm as I have only had it for less than a year, but I have shot a ton of rolls though the 90mm model. I think the 35mm focal length equivalences are 40mm and 28mm. Both I bought used with counters at around 200, one in from the US, and the other direct from Japan.

    I chose the II model mostly for the looks, I like the boxier shape, and the texture of the grips vs the III's more streamlines plastic casing. The II incorporates the hot shoe which the I is missing. The III series has a convenient pop out film button which makes loading a bit faster. All three have the same lenses I believe. I use both cameras with the weight reducing optech pro strap, the stretchy neoprene really does help make it feel much lighter. There is also quite a price difference between the II and the III models, and much less of a price difference between the I and II models.

    These cameras burn film like no tomorrow, I find that I reload quite a bit when using them as you have only 8 shots. 220 film helps with this though, and its not to hard to flip the pressure plate and flick the counter setter in the field but I wouldnt recommend doing this often as you are bound to mess it up one time haha.

    They use 67 mm filters, I carry a set of 6 or 8 filters with me in a pouch. 67mm is not too bad in price now either and you can get good used ones easily since it seems that all the current lenses now seem to use monstrous filters like 77mm. If you use filters that are not screw (like conkin) in you might have to cut off the hoods from the II and III models to get to aperture and speed settings.

    I had been printing the negatives cropped to 6x7 for a bit and then 6x9 with my homemade glass carrier, and now finally 6x9 with a slightly modified universal negative carrier on a LPL 670xl. I am guessing since you have a 4x5 setup you have an enlarger that does 4x5 so no worries with this. The negatives that I get are sharp and crisp, and enlarge very well, I have been in a 11x14 and postcard mode for a bit so I havent enlarged to 16x20 yet (which is the largest paper and easel size i have). The proportions are the same as a 35mm neg, and you have to crop or print wide boarders.

    Do you utilize the the shift/swing/tilt of your 4x5 on assignments usually? If you need it there isnt really anyway to do without it, unless you start tinkering digitally and even then it might not be so great. But if they just want you to use utilize images from the Toy cameras, then this point is moot.

    Might as well grab a camera and shoot for a bit, and then make your decision before you bring it with you on the trip. I think the prices that I have seen them going on the bay are the cheapest yet so far in a long time. I dont know where they are digging them up these last few months but there are a lot and have been selling quickly. Try it out thats the safest way, if you dont like it I think you can easily flip it.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Feb 13, 2013
  3. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Thanks, Newt. Exactly the kind of response I'm looking for.
    The weight doesn't bother me. I'm used to carrying heavier stuff.
    Burning film isn't an issue, either. That's what it's for. I've never thought I shot too many. I've often thought I shot too few. It has to be quicker than reloading sheet film...
    I do use movements with the 4x5, and would bring it if the job required it. It's not necessary this time, though, and I'd really like to lessen the load, and shoot more.
    I'm well stocked with 67mm filters (or step-ups), so no additional costs there.
    It comes down to choosing a 65 or 90. Ideally, I'd buy both. That looks like a $1100-1200 investment. I'd like to keep it under $1000, if I get both. $500-550 for one. I've been reviewing my past work, down there, trying to determine which would be more useful. As of now, if just one, I'd go with the 90, bringing the 4x5 with WA lenses (although that sort of defeats the purpose...).
    Thanks again for your input.
     
  4. munz6869

    munz6869 Subscriber

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    I have the 90mm III (albeit 6x8cm) and I love it - I took it to Japan, Germany & Switzerland last year (along with a 5x4" field camera) and found it a very natural camera for travels - previously I'd taken a Rolleiflex and a Fuji 645zi, and the III is my favourite by far. Very clear and easy rangefinder - quick to shoot with and the lens is sooo sharp I have been really pleased with the negs for printing. I ran nearly 100 rolls of Fuji Neopan Acros 100 through it, and the percentage of successes is very high for my standards :smile: It's not a quiet camera - the shutter is up there with 645 SLR's for 'ka-chang!', but overall it's simplicity and quality make it my travel camera dujour. I shot far less 5x4" film last trip too, which is in no small part due to the quality of the thing.

    Marc!
     
  5. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Yea its not the stealthiest camera as munz points out! It is pretty loud when you click the shutter, and there is a distinctive tone to it so its noticeable. Thats only if they dont see you approaching with it, (which is only if its in your bag), then you get a ton a smirks and stares when using these, probably less so than with a view camera or rolliflex but its up there. haha

    If you check the ebay completed auctions the majority of working gw690, I and IIs have been going in the $300 range, and the gsw690 $100-$150 more than that.

    Oh also one other thing, the viewfinder/rangefinder accepts nikon accessories. I think 19mm but im not positive. I have bought Nikon FM eyecups for both my cameras and they help so much. So if you need a diopter to see with out glasses there are tons from nikon out there too.
     
  6. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    I have the GW690, first one. It had a recently installed shutter and full overhaul by Fuji Canada when I bought it, so its condition was good. From what I can see, the basic construction will be good no matter the age. One thing I did have was light leaks; replacing the seals cleared it up nicely.

    It's a very quick camera to shoot with. Similar to a 35mm rangefinder, but of course the 8 shot limit pops up quickly. But framing, focusing, shooting- more like 35mm than any of the other cameras you mention. At the same time, it *is* a 90mm lens, with attendant shallow depth of field. I know this isn't a problem for you, but I do find that with its quick operation I can get lulled into shooting a bit quicker, a bit more off the hip, and find that depth of field didn't work for the shot. It doesn't take much to get this under control, but sometimes I forget and burn a couple of frames thinking it is a 35m film camera.

    If I had someone footing the film costs and processing bill, I'd love shooting mine for days on end. Get one early and do a few trial runs to see if it really works.

    As to print size, I am working at maybe 11x16" maximum, digitally printed from scans. Imacon scans look great; Epson v700 scans are fine for my print size.
     
  7. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    Great cameras but if you're considering an older than III it'd be best to get it fully overhauled and adjusted and then used for a few rolls to ensure all is good before taking on a trip for an important shoot. Heck even buying a III that'd be best.
     
  8. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Thanks everyone. I've been following the auctions for about 6 weeks, and they seem to go for about $500 (GW) to $550-600 (GSW). I'm hoping for a II or III. I'd like to be able to run 10-15 rolls through it (them?) before the trip- never a good idea to use untested equipment on a trip.
    I've heard it's a bit loud, but that doesn't bother me. I don't shoot "street" or anything else which requires stealth.
     
  9. David Allen

    David Allen Member

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    When I worked commercially, my main equipment was a Hasselblad system. For a period of time I did a lot of work for companies producing display stands for trade fairs, etc. The size of the individual panels for these stands were 120cm x 80cm so I bought a Fuji GSW690 (first model) as it was the perfect format. From then on, all of the (vertical) panel images were shot on the Fuji and then blown up to 120cm long and mounted on to polyboard for insertion in the display system's panels. Using ISO 100 colour film processed at a small very careful lab and hand printed the images were SUPERB. Later I used it a lot for press calls as it was just like using a 35mm rangefinder and I only needed one good image and that could easily be obtained with 8 frames. Why didn't I use 35mm for such jobs? - well for many that would have been fine but many of my clients had the very nasty habit of liking the photo with the CEO posing with some division two celebrity and then wanted 24" blow-ups - something the Fuji delivered with panache. Later on I did quite a lot of interiors for a firm installing fitted kitchens and bedrooms. Whilst some were so small I needed extreme wide-angle lenses on a 5 x 4 camera employing the full range of movements, virtually all of the more luxurious installations were happily done with the Fuji (with careful use of spirit level).

    I loved that camera so much that for many years it became THE camera for my own personal photography (B&W cityscapes). The combination of robustness, sparkling lenses, full flash synch and negative size were, for me, a winner every time.

    When I stopped doing commercial photography, I sold all of my cameras with the idea of just having one for my personal photography. With deep regret the Fuji went as well as I felt the need for a change of format and I bought a Mamiya 7. The Mamiya shared all of the advantages of the Fuji (outstanding lenses capable of large enlargements, ease of use, large negative, etc) BUT with the added advantages of a lighter body, much quieter shutter, interchangeable lenses (and the reasonable ease of being able to rent them) and the fact that it is so easy and fun to use. For the past decade, the mamiya 7 with 65mm has been my only camera (except for two occassions where I needed to rent the 43mm lens to realise two images that I could not get with the 65mm lens). With the 65mm lens and an old bakelite shoulder brace, I consistently get sharp images even at 1/30 second and also using 1/15 second more than 90% are also OK.

    So in conclusion, the Fuji's are very fine professional cameras. However, if I were you, I would buy the Mamiya 7 with the lens of your choice (i.e. what you would most likely to be using for most of the images) and rent (or beg/borrow) any others that you might need for this assignment. In the long-run the Mamiya is more of a system camera and will give you more flexibility.

    Best,

    David
    www.dsallen.de
     
  10. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Thanks, David. I think the 7 is out of my preferred price range, though I have an RB now, and used to have a C-220, so I know that Mamiya is top notch. If I could get one, with 2 lenses, for the same price as the Fujis, I'd probably do it.
     
  11. Paul Howell

    Paul Howell Member

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    An alternative is a Horseman (sp?) 6X9 with 3 lens kit and cams for the 3 lens and a couple of backs. More movements than a Fuji. Other option is a Mamyia Press with 3 lens, but an old press is very heavy, my 4X5 Crown is lighter than my Mamyia Universal.
     
  12. GraemeMitchell

    GraemeMitchell Member

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    I just sold 3 of the model IIIs. In the last few weeks. Two with the 90s and one with the 65mm. Great cameras, but they had played their part in my work so I unloaded them. The biggest limitation for me was simply the rangefinder style of shooting with a camera of that size. Works for me with a leica...but there was something about the bigger camera and piece of film where I preferred working off the ground glass of a hassy or 4x5, and usually with a tripod. But that's personal, and it took me a few years to figure it out myself. The film out of the fujis though was always such a nice surprise though, really nice negs to print. If you want a big hand held camera then there's nothing better.

    I'd look for a III. And one thing to watch for or ask about buying used is how the frame spacing is. I had one, that even with 100 on the counter, would get sloppy spacing and overlapping. The cameras are pretty simple and solid other than that. I suggest KEH personally for these...not a lot more $ than ebay, and a much easier buying experience.

    On that note, if you need one rebuilt, I suggest Nippon Photo Clinic in NYC. They do a great job with these cameras at a fair price.
     
  13. adelorenzo

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    I have the GSW 690III and really like it. It's easy to use and the large negatives are great. I carry big cameras so I don't find it too much of a burden. Never had any problem with frame spacing, light leaks or what have you.

    For me the biggest drawbacks are the rangefinder (I find it hard to use, although it is the only rangefinder I own) and the crappy retractable lens hood which can be really annoying.
     
  14. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    Many years ago, I used a 4x5 system to take photographs of large groups of people, interior and exterior architectural subjects, and commercial still-lifes. After I stopped shooting architectural subjects, I sold my 4x5 system and relied on my Mamiya 6x6cm TLR system and my 35mm system to deliver the images I needed.

    Years later, when I needed to replace my worn-out Mamiya 6x6cm TLR system, I was very disappointed to learn that Mamiya no longer produced or supported the system. I briefly considered replacing my TLR system with the Mamiya medium format rangefinder system but did not for two reasons:

    1. It exceeded my budget limitations.
    2. I was angry a Mamiya for abandoning my beloved TLR system.

    Instead, I replaced my TLR system with the Fuji GW670III rangefinder with the 90mm f/3.5 lens and the Fuji GSW690III rangefinder with the 65mm f/5.6 lens.

    I have been very satisfied using these two cameras to shoot weddings, posed group shots, full-length portraits, scenic shots, and the architectural shots that do not require the perspective and depth-of-field adjustments provided by large format view cameras.

    My only regrets are:

    1. There is no telephoto version for shooting head and shoulder portraits.
    2. Shortly after I purchased them, Fuji abandoned the production and support of these rangefinders.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/11336821@N00/5266483453/
     

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  15. Richard S. (rich815)

    Richard S. (rich815) Subscriber

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    How about the Fuji G690BL? 150mm, 180mm, and 250mm lenses! See here:

    http://www.dantestella.com/technical/g690bl.html
     
  16. Dan Daniel

    Dan Daniel Subscriber

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    A question for you on the 6x7 version of these camera: It appears that the viewfinder system is the same as the 690. Is the overall view masked to a 6x7 ratio (with outside room as typical on rangefinders), or does it simply have a 6x7 bright line on the 'stock' 6x9 viewfinder? Just curious how they dealt with the format differences.
     
  17. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    Although try to find one of the long lenses for that camera! The 150 and 180 show up from time to time, the 250 almost never, and same with the 65 that they made. You'll spend WAY more for the lenses than you will for the camera.
     
  18. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Yes the GW670 II's rangefinder is masked for the 6x7 format.

    I have a GW670 II and a GSW690 III and I love using them. I have lugged them and a tripod up and around Rocky Mtn Nat'l park and have some wonderful negs to print from. But because of my tiny darkroom, I only print up to 11x14. The results are quite nice.
     
  19. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    I once saw the 65mm lens set at buy it now on the bay for $125. No joke. Debated for a second and it was sold. Still kicking myself every time I see one or it mentioned.
     
  20. P C Headland

    P C Headland Subscriber

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    I've got the earlier G690BL which I bought with the standard lens, then added the 65mm f8 a little while later. I ended up getting the kit for less than one fixed lens 65mm camera. Thing is, I had the luxury of time....

    I didn't get the accessory viewfinder with my 65mm, but using the whole viewfinder approximates the field of view well enough. I also had the option on one of the longer lenses (I can't remember whether it was the 150mm or 180mm), but having shot a couple of nice portraits of my young son with the 100mm lens, I decided I really didn't need it (can't believe I actually said that!).

    While I've not fired the interchangeable G alongside a later fixed lens camera, I get the impression than the older camera is quieter. People only seem to notice the size, and the is usually only after a double-take (camera : person proportions look wrong :tongue: ).

    They're easy enough to carry around for several hours at a time. I find it easy to shoot mine hand held, but obviously that is not making the most of the excellent lenses.
     
  21. Newt_on_Swings

    Newt_on_Swings Member

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    Yea the 65mm 5.6 lens any of the lenses over 100mm are pretty pricey, and sometimes go for double or more than what a comparable fixed lens camera would go for!

    Here are some scans of some images take with my gw690II:

    The first I took at infinity, on a ~15 passenger boat on a lake, the second is a 100% crop of the center left of the 1st image. My scanner has been a bit wonky as of late and is giving me various problems with internal dust and random banding, it is a HP g4050.

    The third image is close up shot, probably at the closest focusing distance on the lens, lots of detail as well.

    The fourth is a shot of objects in mid range, the colors are really great and images really pop with this camera.

    These were shot most likely with portra 160 nc, vc, and reala, but Ill have to check the negs to be positive. They were developed by Miller's mail out developing service.
     

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