Lightweight Medium Format for travel--Fuji GA645/Pentax???

Discussion in 'Medium Format Cameras and Accessories' started by Graham_Martin, Jul 10, 2011.

  1. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

    Messages:
    239
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Location:
    St. Augustin
    Shooter:
    35mm
    My wife and I are going to Hawaii in the beginning of December. In addition to my Nikon DSLR I would like to take a MF camera primarily for landscape shots. I already own an RB67 but that is too heavy and bulky. I was looking into something like a Pentax 645 with a wide angle lens. Then I came across the Fuji GA645 series. I read a thread on here from last year, and the half a dozen or so people who posted seemed to like this P&S medium format camera. It sounds like it would be perfect for my needs. I'd be interested in reading some thoughts and opinions on the Pentax 645N and/or Fuji GA645 as it relates to being a lightweight, easy to use, MF camera.

    I see that the Fuji has various models, and I would be interested in recommendations.
     
  2. tkamiya

    tkamiya Member

    Messages:
    4,241
    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2009
    Location:
    Central Flor
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If you take every non-essential things off, Mamiya M645 series isn't that heavy, especially the 645E model. It uses mirror rather than penta-prism. I was looking at GA645ZI with interest since it has zoom lens on it. I have not tried it personally.
     
  3. ghostcount

    ghostcount Member

    Messages:
    252
    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2008
    Location:
    Near The Pla
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have the GA645i (non-zoom) and it's terrific! If I need a lightweight MF, it's my go to recon camera. Though, the viewfinder is portrait mode - it has a dedicated button when rotated for landscape but you have to be careful not to block the exposure meter. The finder is parallax corrected but hard to compose when the subject is less than a meter and anything blocking the lens (such as a camera strap :whistling:) won't show on the finder. Great camera if you don't need to change lenses.

    I came back from Oahu last month and I brought my M645. I'm glad I did since I found subjects that required different focal lengths for composition. In my opinion, figure out if you need an interchangeable lens camera then weight.
     
  4. mrbishi

    mrbishi Member

    Messages:
    23
    Joined:
    Sep 1, 2010
    Shooter:
    Med. Format RF
    A Mamiya 6 or 7 would be the way to go (I love my 6!)
     
  5. thegman

    thegman Member

    Messages:
    623
    Joined:
    Feb 8, 2010
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I would certainly go with a range finder, or Fuji autofocus. MF SLRs are great (I have a Hasselblad), but for portability, you can't beat a range finder like a Mamiya 6 or 7.
     
  6. perkeleellinen

    perkeleellinen Member

    Messages:
    2,261
    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2008
    Location:
    Warwickshire
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Bronica RF645 might be worth a look.
     
  7. Leighgion

    Leighgion Member

    Messages:
    357
    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2009
    Location:
    Orcas Island
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    I have the basic Fuji GA645. For a modestly-priced, lightweight portable MF rig that's quick on the draw, it's unbeatable in my book. Anything either costs much more, is more fiddly to use or is notably bigger/heavier or all of the above.

    The only major downfall for me has been that since the camera meters through the viewfinder, not the lens, it'll happily let you shoot all day with the lens cap on and you need to dial in filter compensations manually. The fact the lens motor is a bit noisy is a minor issue. It's much noisier to the wielder, who is holding the camera up to their face, and the people around.

    I'm reluctantly thinking of selling mine, as great as it is, it's just not getting the field time.
     
  8. eclarke

    eclarke Member

    Messages:
    1,972
    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2004
    Location:
    New Berlin,
    Shooter:
    ULarge Format
    I have 2 Fujis, the 645 Zi and the GF 670 in addition to a Mamiya 7II and a couple 645s. For your purpose, I don't think you could beat the 645 Zi. It's compact, fast sharp and contrasty, has a built in flash and the zoom is a great tool. It's also framed vertically, great for me because I see about 85% of my photos this way...Evan Clarke
     
  9. Jeff Kubach

    Jeff Kubach Member

    Messages:
    6,926
    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Richmond VA.
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Have you considered a TLR?

    Jeff
     
  10. ChuckP

    ChuckP Subscriber

    Messages:
    655
    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2003
    Location:
    NW Chicagola
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I've used my Fuji 645Zi for around 10 years. Nice compact camera with sharp lens. As with anything it has some downsides. The zoom range is nice but limited if you like to shoot very wide or long. The focus goes to around 3 feet and seems very sharp even at this range but not for people who do close work. No range finder. The auto focus work well but I don't think it's the proper camera for people who do a lot of selective focus images. I use it a lot on a tripod with a cable release. In that case if I want the focus point to be other then what the camera is pointing at I have to set it manually. No focus lock with a cable release. Of course the things to overcome these problems involve heavier and more complex camera systems. You need to carry around lenses and extension tubes. And take the time to change them. Pretty soon you might as well take the view camera. And when you want to go light and simple you drop back to the Fuji 645Zi. Just need the camera and film.
     
  11. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,264
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Thanks to a friend I've had the privilege to test drive both a Fujifilm GA645i (fixed 60mm f/4 lens) as well as a GA645zi (55-90mm f/4.5-6.9 zoom).

    Both work exceedingly well, and are great great cameras to document with and subsequently make high quality prints from. The auto-focus mechanism is great for any situation except fog. Both cameras can be coerced to focus manually, but you have to practice first. The auto-exposure is also great, but I really prefer the aperture-priority mode. There is manual exposure as well, but same as with manual focusing, it takes a bit of practice as it isn't entirely intuitive.
    Both the fixed and zoom lenses are incredibly sharp, exhibit high contrast, and the cameras are a joy to use. Tripod mounting for horizontal shots requires a tripod head that can swing 90 degrees or more, same as a 35mm camera, and I find that cumbersome as I'm used to 6x6 square format. But the camera has way more virtues than it has drawbacks. I recommend reading Dante Stella's review of the standard GA645 model. Link here: review

    I know the Mamiya 6 and 7 have a lot of followers, and for good reason. They are fabulous cameras. So is the Bronica 645 RF. I doubt any of them are lighter than the Fuji, though. The Fuji travels very nicely and fits into a very small camera bag, because the lens retracts into the body when you turn it off.

    Good luck choosing!
     
  12. agfarapid

    agfarapid Subscriber

    Messages:
    191
    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2008
    Location:
    New England
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I have the older Fuji folder (GS645) which is great when you need a camera with excellent quality and small size. Also have a M645 which is a bit clunky on a trip. Stick with a rangefinder M/F for small size/big quality.
     
  13. DanielStone

    DanielStone Member

    Messages:
    3,107
    Joined:
    Dec 30, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Pentax 645

    hands down... Owned(yes, I sold it, stupid STUPID ME!), great camera. I had the autofocus-less model(pre "N" model). I only had the 75mm 2.8 lens. Great, simple, LIGHT!!! camera. Just like a 35mm slr on steroids.

    Now that the digital-version of this terrific camera has hit the market(and is gaining a lot of ground), people are scooping up lenses quickly, and willing to pay a lot for them. Just 2 years ago, lenses were closer to 1/2 of their "today" market value. Stupid digital...

    But I'd vote for that camera, you might just want to part with your RB67 :wink:(I owned one of those too before as well). I currently have a Hassy kit(which I love), but if I wanted a 1-lens MF "travel" camera, it'd be a Pentax 645.

    Can't speak enough of it, great camera. Great meter(always ALWAYS spot-on, even when backlit(and this was with chromes(Provia)). And it takes a "standard" cable release too!

    oh... it takes AA batteries too! Just another big + in my book.

    -Dan
     
  14. Sponsored Ad
  15. TareqPhoto

    TareqPhoto Member

    Messages:
    1,045
    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2009
    Location:
    Ajman - UAE
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    If i have to ignore those Holga MF, then the lightest weight film MF cameras i have are: Mamiya 7II and Fuji GSW690III, i love both but i am planning to travel soon somewhere in Europe or USA[NYC] again to take the camera for repair, sending it i don't like the idea.
     
  16. Tony-S

    Tony-S Member

    Messages:
    786
    Joined:
    Aug 16, 2009
    Location:
    Fort Collins
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    In terms of size there's no contest - the GA645 series is much more compact than the Pentax or any other MF camera. However, the autofocus can sometimes be spotty if you don't point it "just right" and manual focus is pretty tough, too. The lens is great and its meter is very accurate. Not much to think about when using it, except its autofocus. If you can master that, then it's a tough package to beat in terms of compact size and low weight.
     
  17. vpwphoto

    vpwphoto Member

    Messages:
    1,203
    Joined:
    Feb 21, 2011
    Location:
    Indiana
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Ziess folder... enough said... and they are pretty cheap.
     
  18. drumlin

    drumlin Member

    Messages:
    199
    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2010
    Location:
    Chapel Hill
    Shooter:
    Medium Format
    'Nother vote for the Fuji autos. As mentioned previously, it's a little funky to get used to with the how the AF behaves, and I had an issue with the pop-up flash going off even when lowered (see this thread for details) -- but the lens is sharp as a tack and it's easy to carry. I've been very pleased with the quality of photos that come from this oversized P&S.

    I'd love a Mamiya 6, but I only paid $200 for my GA645 on fleabay. Much better than the $1000+ for an Mam6.
     
  19. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

    Messages:
    239
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Location:
    St. Augustin
    Shooter:
    35mm
    Thanks for the great advice

    Based on what I have read here I am inclined to try the Fuji zoom. If I really enjoy it and use it a lot, then I would consider selling the RB67.
     
  20. rince

    rince Subscriber

    Messages:
    215
    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Mamiya 7ii and if you want to go wide the 43mm not the cheapest, but when it comes to portability and quality you won't find a better MF camera. And yes I am strongly biased since I own and adore my Mamiya.
     
  21. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

    Messages:
    239
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Location:
    St. Augustin
    Shooter:
    35mm
    You are correct about the price. That's not the sort of money I want to spend at this time.
     
  22. keithwms

    keithwms Member

    Messages:
    6,070
    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2006
    Location:
    Charlottesvi
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I had a fuji ga645zi and it is a lot of fun. However, I eventually replaced it with two other fixed-lens fujis- one wide and one normal. The bodies are so compact and I really like the idea of having two bodies rather than one, as backup and perhaps with different film loaded.

    While the idea of a medium format zoom RF is very nice, the ga645zi zoom range really only goes from kinda wide to kinda long. It is a lot of fun for event stuff, I used to use one at regattas. But the zoom range is nothing special. I got more use out of the ga645w more.

    Don't get me wrong, the ga645zi is a lot of fun. But... I now consider the mamiya 6 system to be the absolute *ultimate* for travel (and a lot of other things too. For $1500 you can have a the whole kit. And unlike the 7 and 7ii, the lens collapses into the body. It's a really wonderful thing, with virtually unrivaled optics.

    Why not see if you can load / trade for a 6/6mf/7/7ii system.
     
  23. rince

    rince Subscriber

    Messages:
    215
    Joined:
    May 11, 2011
    Location:
    Germany
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    Well before I spend the money I actually rented it for a one week trip. It might be worth looking into this possibility.
     
  24. Thomas Bertilsson

    Thomas Bertilsson Subscriber

    Messages:
    15,264
    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2003
    Location:
    Minnesota
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I will tell you from having rolled about 30 rolls through the Fuji GA645i that it has wicked good optics! A friend of mine used to own a Mamiya 6 system, and granted it is a square format compared to 645, but print quality wise I'm not sure I can tell a difference with my naked eye, and even if I could you had to get out a microscope to quantify it. The thing is sharper than my Hasselblad (which is also true for the Mamiya 6), and that is based on evaluation of 16x20 prints with the 6cm side of the negative magnified equally much.

    To me that's good enough, so if I was choosing between a Mamiya 6/7 and a Fuji GA645i I would base my decision on what I want from the system. Do I need exchangeable lenses, for example? Do I really like the 645 format, or do I like 6x6 better, or even 6x7? (and this affects how much film real estate you use per shot too, with 16 shots per roll compared to 12 or 10). How big can the camera be? Etc.

    Good luck!
     
  25. 2F/2F

    2F/2F Member

    Messages:
    8,003
    Joined:
    Apr 29, 2008
    Location:
    Los Angeles,
    Shooter:
    Multi Format
    I like the quality of the images from the Fuji, but I have my own hangups about being unable to confirm focus accurately enough with an AF rangefinder. I would really prefer an SLR if I were in your position. The Mamiya, Pentax, and Bronica 645's are not that large or heavy, and they are pretty inexpensive (as are SQs). I am not sure how much the Fujis sell for, but I don't think it is extraordinarily cheaply. I think my friend paid four or five hundred for hers. You could get an outstanding 645 SLR kit, with a few lenses and backs, for that much money, and have much more capability.

    However, if you will be focusing on fairly distant objects and/or stopping down a bit, and you don't need FLs much wider or longer than normal, I think the Fuji would be a good choice due to it's convenience. It's pretty light and does not take up a lot of space. I just couldn't use one for my general purpose medium format camera, because I like being able to see exactly what is in focus visually (and having D of F preview), even if it is just with a rangefinder patch. I also don't really like cameras that have a fixed lens, in general. (There are specific exceptions, such as my Yashica Electro 35's.)

    I agree with Keith Williams that the Mamiya 6 is the "best" all around medium format rangefinder. But they are pretty spendy cameras. I couldn't see getting one unless I would be using it quite a lot, not just for landscapes while on vacation. Some day I hope to get one, maybe if I ever get up the guts to sell my Mamiya Press equipment.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 30, 2011
  26. Graham_Martin

    Graham_Martin Member

    Messages:
    239
    Joined:
    Mar 1, 2009
    Location:
    St. Augustin
    Shooter:
    35mm
    I'm still leaning toward the Fuji simply because it sounds like it will best suit my needs on a trip to Hawaii. My need is for basically a lightweight, virtually P&S MF camera. It sounds like this will best meet my needs. My second choice would have been a Pentax 645AF.