Fuji GW67II/III and GW69II/III opinions

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Alexz, Jul 27, 2005.

  1. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Hi.
    I just came across an ad in our local photo forums selling all four cams: GW67II, GW67III, GW69II and GW69III.
    The following information has been fetched out of the seller:
    Most of the cams are in very good condition, very clean except of 67II (or was it III ?) that has flash shoe replaced. All are equipped with 90mm/3.5 lens of course. The GW67II appears to have the largest number appearing on its counter (arround 500), the 69III appears to have the least leap (counters show about 100).
    I'm not familiar personally with these cameras, although have read through lots of online reviews on these and mostly the opinion is held up for all of these, particularily for 69II and 69III models. Optics is reprotedly top-notch except of their bokeh loosing to Zeiss counterparts.
    I would be glad to read personal opinions about these cameras, such as hands-on experiences, what is good and what is bad...
    I'm aware about the system specifications (rangefinder, no switchable film backs, of course, fixed, although leaf shutter lens, purely mechanical (no powering is necessary, however no metering is available either). What is the number shown on the camera's counter ? Is that amount of frames (i.e. shutter actuations) done so far or amount of film rolls through the camera ? What are the average life span of GW 67II/III and GW69II/III shutters ?
    To put the things into proportions I must tell that I'm MF SLR user, shooting with Bronica GS-1 (6x7) system right know, however thinking of adding a kind of rangefinder for hikes and when weight/size are a considerable issues.

    The prices as asked by seller ranging from 550$ for 67II to 800$ for 69III. Are they fair prices for these models bearing the condition described above ?

    Any additional help is highly appreciated.

    Regards, Alex
     
  2. sanking

    sanking Member

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    Yes, I think these are fair prices. I have a GW690III and a GSW690III in EX condition and I would not sell either of them for $800.

    In terms of image performance there is nothing in the medium format world that will beat these cameras. The lenses are superb and the very large negatives, either 6X7 or 6X9, just simply can not be beat by 6X6, not even by the best of Hasselblad. And for the size negative these cameras are relatively light, at least the III models are.

    Of course, there are disadvantages to large rangefinder cameras, though the lack of a built-in meter is not one of them. The major problem, compared to a SLR is that the viewfinder does not show exactly what you will get on the negative, especially if you are working close with the GSW and its 65mm lens. The other problem, compared to a view camera, is that you have no movements so you must rely on depth of field to get everything in focus. Lack of movements also means no perspective control, though you can do lot in this arena with Photosho if you scan the negatives.

    Sandy
     
  3. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Much appreciation Sandy for your fast response.
    In fact, I work with 6x7 kit, not 6x6 (Bronica GS-1 is 6x7 SLR system). I guess the main usage for 6x9 rangefinder would be landscapes, right ? That prescribes quite intensive usage of filters (at least polarizer and GNDs), so how it hanldes with GW69III bearing its rangefinder nature ? I would be glad to hear your personal experiences.
    Also, what is shon on the counter ? History of the shutter activations or films ran through the camera ? What is the average life span for their shutters ? (what would tell you numbers of 100 or 500 on the counter ?)

    Regards, Alex
     
  4. Stan. L-B

    Stan. L-B Member

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    Hello Alexz.
    I own and still use the Fuji GSW111 65mm and the GW111 90mm. Both these cameras are superb basic no frills work horses. The lenses I have found are well up with the leading high quality manufacturers. I have used them for landscape and other work where it is impossible to get my field cameras. They are built like a tank, not very pretty but very reliable, the shutters are noisy but I have found them well up to the job. The format is very much to be desired for landscape work and large group shots. The numbers on the cameras bear little relation to possible condition or how the cameras have been used, they should be considered as just a record for logging. I have not used the other Fuji cameras. Suffice to say, I would not consider parting with either of these cameras. The price being asked is very fair. Go for it!
    Stan. L-B
     
  5. Konical

    Konical Subscriber

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    Good Afternoon, Alex,

    I have only the 67 version. If I could afford to do so, I'd immediately also buy both the 6 x 9 and wide-angle versions. The Fuji RF is, as noted so well above, an absolutely excellent performer. I paid $750 for my 67, which had had only about thirty rolls through it and is in essentially mint condition, if that's any guideline for you.

    Konical
     
  6. MARTIE

    MARTIE Member

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    Dear Alexz,

    I have the Fuji gsw 690 III. It's a fantastic machine and for my travel and landscape needs it's perfect. I would seriously consider waiting for the 6x9 65mm lens version if I were you.
    If you don't mind me saying, it probably wouldn't be worth your while buying yet another 6x7 format when you already have a good system outfit. And personally speaking, the 6x9 and wide angle combination will be a better complement to your existing kit (I also have the mamiya 7II outfit).
    Last but not least, and forgive me for saying, because I'm not familiar with your style, but THE WIDER THE BETTER! I'm confident that you would prefer the w-i-d-e-r option and that you would always regret not being able to get enough in the frame.
    By the way, this link might be a source of both information and inspiration!

    http://www.fujirangefinder.com/

    Decisions...Decisions...
     
  7. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Thank you all for your contribution.
    Few questions hasn't been answered though:
    what is shown on the counter of GW69II/III, number of frame (i.e. shutter activations) or number of rolls passed through the camera ? What is average (or at least officialy advertised) life span of the shutter ?
    And finally, how do you handle filter usage for landscape work bearing in mind that this is rangefinder ?
     
  8. Paul_Baker

    Paul_Baker Member

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    Hi Alex. I also have the GS-1 and have been looking at the Fuji Rangefinders. The number shown is supposed to be the number of rolls. I've heard that when the number gets to 1000 it should be sent to Fuji for service, I don't know if that is a shutter replacement or not. As to the filter, you just have to remember to include that in your exposure calculation. Since they don't have meters, you just meter through the filter first, then put it on the camera.
    Paul B.
     
  9. sanking

    sanking Member

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    My major use of the Fuji GSW cameras has not been for landscapes but for hand-held work in urban environments, using the camera in much the same way one might use 35mm rangefinder. For landscapes I use it on a tripod whenever possible, often with a yellow or orange filter.

    The number on the counter, as best I can recall, indicates 10X the number of rolls of film through the camera.

    Sandy
     
  10. papagene

    papagene Membership Council Council

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    Sandy is right about the counter... 10x the number of rolls of film run through the camera.
    I have been using the GW670 II for about ten years, not sure of the number of rolls I have put through it though. I did have the focusing repaired on it... my younger daughter jumped on it when she was little and...
    I really like using this camera. Several images in my personal gallery here at APUG are from this camera.
    I picked up a used GSW690 III a couple of years ago. This is also a fine camera, love using it. The weight difference between the II and III is minimal, not enough to worry about.
    The pricing you mention is fair. And like Sandy, I would not part with either of these two cameras for that amount.
    Good luck.

    gene
     
  11. Lee L

    Lee L Member

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    The counter in my GW690II is set to count shutter actuations in multiples of 10, i.e. if it shows 150, the shutter has been fired 1,500 times. The instructions highly recommend a shutter overhaul when the counter reaches 500 (5,000 shutter firings), and an overhaul of both the shutter and film advance mechanisms at 10,000 shots (when the counter rolls back over from 999 to 000). They recommend more frequent servicing when shooting often by the ocean or in other severe environments. This counting mechanism is consistent across the models, and equals the number of rolls in the 670 models.

    I love my 690, and the lens is great. It's a bit bulky, but I call it my CL on steroids. I find the finder a bit dim and squinty, especially compared to some of my 35mm rangefinders, and when the camera will capture so much more detail than you can see through the built in finder. So I've taken to using the Cosina Voigtlander 40mm hot shoe auxilary finder for a better view of what I'm shooting. It's within a couple of degrees for that purpose and is much brighter, clearer, and is much easier to see with eyeglasses on. The CV finder magnification is essentially the same as the built in finder, but it feels a lot "bigger".

    Lee
     
  12. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Thank you guys, your help is appreciated.
    Now I understood 100 on the counter means 1000 shutter actuation have been made, which is about fifth of the number that requires factory overhaul.
    Paul, I'm thrilled your experience with GW690 aside of your Bronica GS-1 setup. When and why did you find GW690 would be more useful/efficcient then GS-1 ?
    How GW690 optics fairs against comparable in GS-1 (100mm/3.5 PG lens) for your opinion ?

    I'm just trying to figure how I can benefit from owing GW690III aside of GS-1 (except of obvious 6x7 vs 6x9 film area differences)...
     
  13. David H. Bebbington

    David H. Bebbington Inactive

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    I can confirm the counter operation, the one on my GW690III is inscribed "Total of shots x10", which of course should be " ... divided by 10", as you say counter reading 100 = 1000 shutter actuations. I regard the provision of a counter as an eccentricity, maybe Fuji thought it would generate business for their service department, I would think most people would let their Fuji run on for much longer before servicing unless they were working in very harsh conditions.
    The vast advantage of a Fuji RF is its low weight and thus portability, and also seal against moisture. The camera is far from waterproof, but I would worry about taking my Fuji out in damp conditions, even light rain for a very brief period, far less than with an SLR.
    Points to watch:
    Fuji RF cameras will not fire with no film loaded and the back closed. If you want to test with no film, open the back! Film advance lever is double-stroke type, camera won't fire after just one advance stroke.
    Despite having used many many 120 cameras, it took me a couple of rolls to learn to tension the backing paper on the take-up spool by pressing it lightly with my finger while winding the film to the start mark, otherwise there is the risk of a "fat" roll.
    Shutter has "T" setting, no "B". Only way to close shutter on "T" is to wind film (ideally placing black card in front of lens beforehand).
    Camera makes a relatively loud "Thwang!" noise when fired. This is the double-exposure prevention device, so it operates after the picture is taken and does not cause vibration, but is noisy!
    Camera has two shutter releases. The one on the front panel which needs to be pushed backwards is theoretically better as a means of avoiding camera shake, the top button tends to get a little stiff after a while and benefits from a very small drop of oil (the button is a long way from the actual shutter).
    I use my Fuji whenever I feel lazy, knowing that in terms of image quality I'm not going to miss all that much compared with 4x5"!

    Regards,

    David
     
  14. 127

    127 Member

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    My other half owns two of the 645 models in the series. Based on her recommendation my brother grabed one too. The 67/69 models are slightly different, but the principle is the same - sell a great lens at a great price, and throw in the rest of the camera for free.

    By not providing interchangable lenses, and NOT making it an SLR you get something that's cheap, light, fun and takes great pictures. Individually they're not a "system", but for the price you just grab one of each! Don't change back/lens - change camera...

    There's nothing else close to these things. And they're discontinuted! I've seen the 69 go for more than list on ebay since they've stopped selling them. Robert White's final price on the 69 was about £700, but they regularly sell for £800+!!!

    Ian
     
  15. Paul_Baker

    Paul_Baker Member

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    Sorry Alex, I must have given the worng impression. I mean that I am considering buying one, just like you and am trying to weigh all the options. The main problem I have with them is: no interchangeable lens. I think I have decided that if I were to buy one it would have to be the gsw690 because of the wider view. Later you can always crop, there's plenty of negative! I think that if I do get one I'll have to buy one of those hot shoe meters to put on it, too. You could just get another lens for the GS-1 instead!

    Paul B.
     
  16. Alexz

    Alexz Member

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    Thanks David, Paul and others.
    BTW, Paul, just few months ago I managed to round up my GS-1 lens lineup, so now I have 65mm, 100mm and 200mm lenses for GS-1 that pretty much cover my focal lenghtes needs.
    However this GW69III still sounds quite tempting, too bad I have no a true MF-capable film scanner...:-(

    BTW, do I understand corectly: GW690III doesn't provide cable release feature ?
     
  17. sanking

    sanking Member

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    No, that is not correct. Both the GW690III and GSW690III have provision for use of cable release.

    Sandy
     
  18. PRB

    PRB Member

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    Hi Alex,

    I have the GW90III and have been very happy with it.

    Someone mentioned something about filters with this camera. When I first got the camera, getting the filters on and off was hard to do because of the clunky built-in lens hood. After looking around at some Fuji forums, I did what some other people have done - I cut the lens hood off very carefully and got a a wide angle lens hood for a couple of bucks on eBay. Now filters are easy to get on and off.

    As far as the T setting is concerned, I use that as Bulb. But there is a little hitch: when you fire the shutter while you are using T, the shutter does NOT close until you advance the film. So you have to cover the lens at the end of the exposure and advance the film to close things down.

    It is a great camera! The limitations of the GWs are obvious, fixed lens and so on. Your legs have to be your telephoto. The fixed lens, for me, leads to a more relaxed style of shooting.The negatives and chromes from the camera are great!

    If you do any darkroom work and want to print the Fuji shots yourself, make sure there is a 6x9 negative carrier available for your enlarger. Friends have found the carriers cheap on eBay.

    Good Luck!

    Onward,
    Paul
     
  19. narsuitus

    narsuitus Member

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    I use my Fuji GW670 and GSW690 cameras for weddings, posed group shots, scenic shots, and the architectural shots that do not require the perspective and depth-of-field adjustments provided by large format view cameras.

    Here are some of the quirks I have noticed while using these great cameras. Some of them have already been mentioned by previous posters.

    It is difficult to adjust shutter speed and f/stop because controls are so close together.

    When a filter is attached, the retractable lens hood covers the shutter and f/stop controls.

    It is easy to waste a shot when picking up camera and accidentally pressing the shutter release on the front of camera.

    The shutter release lock on the front of the camera locks both shutter releases.

    There is no “B” shutter speed. The “T” setting is used instead for long exposures, however, to get the shutter to close; you must turn the shutter speed ring or move the film advance lever.

    There is only an “X” sync (There is no sync for flash bulbs and I love big flash bulbs for large group shots)

    The focus scale is only calibrated in meters.

    The right side camera strap sometimes gets caught when closing the camera back resulting in light struck film.

    The shutter speed cannot be set between click stops. It must be set only at the click stops.