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.
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 Newt_on_Swings; 02-13-2013 at 12:38 AM. Click to view previous post history.
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.
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 :-) 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.
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.
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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.