Fuji GF670 or Rolleiflex 2.8FX-N

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by mingaun, Oct 30, 2013.

  1. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Hello,

    I started photography digitally but in the last few years I tried my hand in film which I enjoyed tremendously. I have been using a Leica M3 with a 50mm lens which was fun but now I am bitten with the medium format bug.

    There are two cameras that I have been eyeing.

    I like the Fuji because of the following reasons
    1. Rangefinder style which I am comfortable with.
    2. Compact and can be hand held with low shutter speeds.
    3. Aperture priority exposure
    4. Take both 6 by 6 and 6 by 7 format
    5. Cheaper.

    I like the rolleiflex because
    1. I believe it is made to last a lifetime and I like that a lot.
    2. 2.8 aperture
    3. Close distance focussing to about 55cm
    4. Beautiful classic.

    If I were to choose with my heart it would be a Rolleiflex but I have never seen one TLR camera in my life let alone handle one. There is none available here in my country. My main concern is the focussing. Is it easier to handle a Rollei or the Fuji. Can I focus faster and more precise with Rollei or Fuji. Handling is a big issue for me. I want something easy to use.

    At this point in time, from my own Internet research, I feel as though rangefinder is easier, faster and more accurate. I take mostly family vacation photos. I am going towards Fuji but the Rollei is something i have a heart for. I don't know how to say it, it is just like my Leica M3 which is pure mechanical wonder. But at the same time I don't want to spend so much cash on a Rollei and end up not using it.

    If any of you have experience with these two types of camera I would really appreciate your input and also to all who don't have, I would like to hear your thoughts as well.

    Thanks for reading my post. Much appreciated.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  2. thegman

    thegman Member

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    I have never use a FX-N, but I currently use a Rolleiflex GX, and think it's fantastic.

    I have also used a GF670, and that's probably one of the best cameras made in the last 10 years.

    For me, the GF670 is easier to use and easier/quicker to take shots with. As you say, you're taking family vacation photos, so you want quick and easy I guess. For me, the GF670 is quicker and easier. I find focusing a range finder a lot easier than a TLR or SLR, but everyone is different. Remember a TLR screen is reversed left to right, and it still sometimes catches me out.

    Both are beautiful cameras, but I think in terms of sheer classic design and stunning workmanship, the Rollei wins it.

    For walking around, slipping a camera in and out a bag, GF670 wins. For tripod work, I'd probably go Rollei.

    I would say out of those two, there are no bad decisions to make, both would be delightful cameras to own.

    If think if I've got time on my hands, I'd maybe rather walk around with a Rollei, if I'm slightly hurried around as we often are on vacation, then I'd go GF670. But they are both so lovely, it's like saying if you'd rather have week in Kauai or Maui, both would be great.
     
  3. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Hi Mark,

    I own and use both a Fujifilm GF670 and a Yashica Mat-124G TLR. I am the original owner of both cameras.

    In my opinion the biggest handling difference between the two is that with a TLR you can put your hands all over the camera without having to watch out for anything other than the lens. With the GF670 there is the constant need to be careful where you put your hands because of the exposed bellows.

    If you are already comfortable using a bellows style camera (many of my cameras have a bellows, so care in handling already comes second nature to me) then you won't notice anything much different. If not, it may take a period of time to adjust and become accustomed to being a bit more careful.

    Another moderate difference is the focusing regime. TLRs have those nice big fat knobs on their sides that are easy to locate, grasp, and micro-adjust. The GF670's focus ring is further away out on the extended lens. For me I must cradle the camera in my left hand in such a way as to not crinkle the bellows. Then from this position the most natural finger to fall onto the focusing ring is my left thumb.

    It took a while for me to become comfortable focusing with my left thumb only. Using any other additional finger and I must then support the weight of the camera entirely by grasping it with my right hand, and this is not always a steady configuration. I should also mention that I have very large hands. (I can pick up and hold a basketball with one hand.) I'm not sure that if my left hand were any smaller that I could effectively support the camera, not touch the bellows, and thumb-focus, all at once.

    I love the GF670 and wouldn't trade it for the world. But I would suggest that if you can find a way to do so, it would be to your benefit to handle a GF670 before you buy one. Just to know a little better what you would be getting into before spending your money. It is a bit of a different beast.

    Best of luck in your decision.

    Ken
     
  4. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thanks gman and Ken for the quick reply.

    Gman, how would compare the lens characteristic between rolleiflex and Fuji in terms of sharpness, contrast and the bokeh?

    Ken, i have never used a bellow camera before. I have small hands. Is the bellow easily damaged? When focusing, can we support the camera with the palm on the bellow? What I mean to say is it fragile?

    Regards
    Mark
     
  5. jbrubaker

    jbrubaker Member

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    Hi - I have owned several Rollei cameras in the past including the FX. I now have the Fuji GF670. I would say that in bright conditions the Rollei focusing screen is easy to use, but as the light dims is increasingly more difficult to focus. The Fuji has a beautiful bright viewfinder/rangefinder and will be more useable in low light. The Fuji is well made and not difficult to hold once you get used to it. You can not support the camera by its bellows, but will rest the front metal cover on your hand. You can then focus with your left thumb. Here is a quick cell phone snap of what I mean. 2013-10-30 10.07.06.jpg . The Fuji lens is outstanding, as are the Rollei lenses! Regards ---john
     
  6. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thanks John. Great help.

    Looks like there is nothing really not to like about the Fuji. This time I really have to decide with my head. My wife would be pleased.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  7. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    I love my 35mm rangefinders. Medium format rangefinders are a different animal, however, especially once you get beyond the 6x6cm size. Perhaps it is because they lack any automation that you can get in the 35mm cameras (meter, auto-exposure, etc), combined with the parallax issues, I didn't really cotton on to the 6x9 rangefinder I had use of. I do love my Rolleiflexes, however. I would dispute what someone said earlier about needing a tripod for the Rolleiflex - they are pre-eminently hand-holdable, and I regularly can pull off 1/4 second or 1/8th second exposures hand-held. I've even gotten away with some 1 second exposures hand-held if I exhale and then hold my breath and exert proper tension on the neck strap. If the price tag for a new Rollei FX-N is a bit galling, consider a late model F or a GX, which will be at most 1/2 the price of the FX-N. I have a pair of E models that cost me about $500 USD each to buy, and even with professional overhauls were less than $1K each (the first one got a complete overhaul for $350, the second one is going in soon to have the film transport adjusted, which should be cheaper than a full CLA). That said, there are some advantages to the FX-N that might weigh in its favor (closer minimum focus, new in box with warranty). You'll have to decide that for yourself.
     
  8. thegman

    thegman Member

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    In all honesty, I don't know, I don't pay much attention to these things. I'd say both are extremely sharp, but I couldn't comment on contrast as I get my film scanned, and by that point contrast is at the behest of software. For bokeh, I generally shoot stopped down, so I wouldn't see bokeh, but what I do see is pleasant enough to my eyes on the Rolleifex.
     
  9. eriklovold

    eriklovold Member

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    I have had a Rolleiflex and currently use a GF670. For me, the rangefinder is superior because it is much quicker and easier to focus. In the 100 rolls I've shot with the GF670 only a handful have been out of focus, and that's been due to error on my part. With Rolleiflex and Hasselblad, I found focusing far more difficult. Most importantly it has the 6x7 option which I use 99% of the time. It is a considerably larger neg than 6x6 (56x56mm vs. 56x69mm). If I only (or mostly) did portraits, I think I'd be more inclined to go for the Rolleiflex, but for everything else the rangefinder wins as far as I'm concerned.

    As far as lens characteristics go, I don't know much about the Rolleiflex, but the GF670 has a great lens which draws a smooth and pleasing image at the wider apertures whilst becoming razor sharp when stopped down a little. I tend to use between f/3.5-8 for portraits and f/8-16 for landscapes.
     
  10. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    If you want to see examples of Rolleiflex bokeh, look in my gallery at some of the portrait work I've posted lately, like

    [​IMG]

    or

    [​IMG]
     
  11. Pioneer

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    I shoot the Rolleiflex and the Fuji GF670. The quality of the picture from either lens is great. The difference between the two is speed of use. I can easily shoot my grandkids on the move with the Fuji. I am not as good at using the Rollei that quickly. But the Rollei was used by news photographers back in the day so I am sure it can probably be done with enough practice. At least that is what I keep telling myself. :smile:
     
  12. revdocjim

    revdocjim Member

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    As others have said, you are unlikely to be anything but thrilled with either camera. I haven't use any Rolleiflex cameras but have an old Yashica that I enjoy. I've owned the GF670 for over a year now and have nothing but good things to say about it. Having said that, both cameras would take getting used to. Care around the bellows is needed with the Fuji but once you are used to it there is little to worry about. The TLR would require getting used to the reversed image. An earlier post mentioned issues like automation and parallax but neither are an issue with the GF670. Head to head the Rollei would probably win the build quality test but in its own right the GF670 is very well built and I love the simple, two dial layout. Unlike other users who commented here, I focus with my left index finger and find it easy to hold steady with the remaining fingers of my left hand coupled with the left hand. One unique thing about the Fuji is that the shutter is so ridiculously quiet that you won't even hear it in a noisy environment. You just have to trust your finger. It is so compact that in a pinch you can even shoot one handed in a pinch with reasonable shutter speeds. At 90cm, the mfd is fine for portraits, but it obviously isn't a macro camera. The only problem I've had with it was occasional misfires and poor battery life in cold weather. But then I figured out that it was insufficient tension in the spring on the cap for the battery compartment. So I just stretched it out a bit by hand in have had no problems since. Last week I shot 7 rolls of velvia in Colorado and can't wait to get the results!
     
  13. zeta3

    zeta3 Member

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    It is all about psychology. It is not about the cameras, but about the heart vs the head.

    Buy what your heart tells you - if you buy with the head, as you walk around with the Fuji, you will simply be lovesick and will continuously think about the Rollei and will never enjoy the Fuji no matter how good it is.

    Buy the Rollei first, and start to save again for a RF medium format.
     
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  15. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    By their very nature, all bellows are fragile when compared to solid metal lens mounts. But at the same time, in trained hands they are virtually never a problem. It's just something that one gets used to keeping an eye on, and it becomes second nature.

    I have three hand cameras with bellows from 35mm to 4x5. None are a problem for me. A century ago everyone used handheld bellows cameras without giving it a second thought, and those cameras usually lasted a lifetime.

    I'm sitting here with my GF670 in my hands to see exactly how I hold it. In my left hand it looks exactly like the picture from 'jbrubaker' in post #5. The baseplate is resting on the heel of the left hand, which crosses under the camera at a 45-deg angle. The four fingers spread across the bottom edge of the fold-out front cover, which in the open position is now 90-deg out from the camera face. And that leaves the left thumb free to fall directly onto the focusing ring. There are three points of hand contact with the camera body, none of which touch the bellows.

    From this cradled position the camera is secure and very responsive, although I do also use a wrist strap with all of my hand cameras just to be safe. Others have mentioned fast-moving grandkids. I can easily see doing that with this camera. And having done kids with TLRs myself, I think this camera would win in that situation.

    The viewfinder is a knockout, the meter amazingly accurate, and I would be remiss to not also mention that the electronic shutter is so quiet that you will initially think your camera is broken the first time you press the release. Leicas sound like poorly assembled army tanks compared to this camera.

    A few other quirks you may be interested in...

    The viewfinder shutter speed LEDs are full stops only (i.e., 30, 60, 125, etc.), which limits the ability to finely adjust manual exposure settings when using the internal meter. You only have one-stop granularities to work with. I think Fuji intended for you to always use the camera in automatic mode. In manual mode I simply use an external handheld meter instead.

    The detents on the aperture ring are set to half-stops, not the usual third-stops.

    As is already well documented, lens hoods and filters must be removed and the lens must be fully retracted to infinity before the camera will close. The tolerances really are that tight. That means when in use it normally stays locked open for the duration. (So again, keep an eye on that bellows.)

    The damping grease on the focusing helicoid seems a bit thin for my tastes. I would prefer a bit more resistance and a bit more holding power. Meaning, if I point the camera up and focus, the lens will creep down slightly with gravity if I don't hold my thumb on the focusing ring. This can be a problem with some pre-focus situations where you must wait a bit before the composition materializes.

    That's exactly what happened immediately prior to making this photo. My first couple of attempts with this subject were out of focus until I realized what was happening and corrected it. I've considered sending the camera back to Fuji USA to be re-greased, but have not yet decided if it's a big enough issue for me to go to that much trouble and presumably expense.

    We'll see...

    Ken
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Oct 31, 2013
  16. Pioneer

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    I did have Fuji USA adjust mine while they were doing some other work and the focus is now perfectly damped. It moves nicely but with enough resistance that I am no longer worried that it will move on its own.
     
  17. Ken Nadvornick

    Ken Nadvornick Subscriber

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    Was it done under warranty? And if not, could you reveal the cost? And the turn-around time?

    Thanks,
    Ken
     
  18. Pioneer

    Pioneer Member

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    The lens was handled under warranty though the camera is actually about 6 months past the warranty period (procrastination is my middle name.) Total turnaround was just under three weeks but they also did a couple of other things.
     
  19. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Thank you all once again for your help and advice.

    Actually I did not expect such a great support for the Fuji. Looks like the only thing going on for the Rollei is the build. I actually was hoping for more from the Rollei.

    I will probably order the Fuji soon. Thanks again.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  20. Pioneer

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    I have no doubt that you will enjoy it. It is quite an amazing camera.
     
  21. eddie

    eddie Subscriber

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    Sorry to hear that, but glad you had the chance to try it.
     
  22. Matus Kalisky

    Matus Kalisky Member

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    From purely financial point of view:
    You can get the GF670 used for a very reasonable money today. Should you not like it, than you can sell it with little loss. On the other hand - the FX-N can only be had new and is costly (around $6k I recall) and should you not feel content with it, you will sell it with at least $1k loss.

    I know what would I choose (FX-N if sky was the limit, the rendering of the GF670 lens does not appeal to me), but it is your choice.

    I would definitely try to see many photos taken with both cameras to get the impression what kind of rendering one could expect.

    You did not hear much about the Rolleiflex here because only handful of users have the FX or FX-N.
     
  23. mingaun

    mingaun Member

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    Hi again,

    My fuji GF670 arrived yesterday. First impression is it looks more solid than I thought. Feels lighter than it looks. Everything was nice except ..... The focussing tab. I need to use my thumb to focus it but it requires me to turn my left wrist a lot and not comfortable at all. I guess I just need to get used to it.

    But I have an urgent problem. My camera's manual is in Japanese! I have however figured out most things on my own and thru the Internet but there are some very silly questions I need help. I am new to medium format camera so pardon my ignorance.

    1. What do I do after finish exposing the film? There is no rewind knob like my Leica M3. Do I just keep turning the dial until the whole film is spooled and then what happen? How do I take it out? The is no canister like a 35mm film. Will I accidentally expose it to light?

    2. Do I use the finished film spool as the next take up spool? I hope you understand my question. Are all film spool quality the same?

    Thanks for any advise.

    Regards,
    Mark
     
  24. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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    1) There are no rewinds in MF upto my knowledge. Just wind like film advance till the end or till you feel there is not tension during the wind. Then, open the back door and take the film out and stick with paper tape that comes with film.

    2) You may need to change the position of the empty spool so it takes the film when you advance and shoot.
     
  25. TheFlyingCamera

    TheFlyingCamera Membership Council Council

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    To answer your questions - yes, you just keep winding until the whole roll is on the take-up spool. Then you move the original spool to the take-up position. For all intents and purposes, the spools are absolutely interchangeable and won't have any issues putting Kodak film on an Ilford or Fuji spool.
     
  26. baachitraka

    baachitraka Subscriber

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