Fuji GS645 folder, for me?
Here is what I want:
A small, quiet, and preferably mechanical compact 120 rangefinder/folder and I do not need a meter.
I'm attracted to this camera because it seems to have everything I need and not much more.
1. Do you guys feel comfortable switching from landscape to portrait orientation? I know that the native format is portrait but is it comfortable to switch into landscape?
2. I know there are bellow problems but is it easy to service your own?
3. Do you find this camera durable? I do not intend on babying this camera. I plan on putting it in a sleeve/case and tossing it in my bag or slinging it around my neck.
4. Anything else I should worry about?
Last edited by puketronic; 03-04-2013 at 12:07 AM. Click to view previous post history.
The GS645s does not fold - it has the 60mm semi-wide lens and the 'crash bar' on the front. The 75mm lens version does have a bellows. It is happier as a vertical format, but it is no harder to go horizontal than turning a 35mm camera. I use mine as a light travel camera when the smaller negative (compared to 6x6 and up) is outweighed by the convenience of 15-on-120. I would put it in a padded bag. Despite the crash bar the lens mounting is not the strongest ever made.
The meter is actually pretty good. Less prone to flare influence than the one in my Mamiya 6.
I feel, therefore I photograph.
I had a Fuji folder 645. Actually two as the first was stolen and I replaced it. Replaced the bellows once by Frank at Camera Wiz (cheap and prompt, I recall). Great optics but a reputation for being fragile. I never had any issues with mine and it was very gratifying to easily pack it along. I found a very small belt-mount camera bag that it just fit into and a side pocket that held a small flash. A few rolls of film went in a shirt pocket and I was ready for about anything that the day presented. I wish I had it back.
The vertical format was actually an asset for a great many applications as it made for a quick handling candid camera. Projects destined for an album are better served with vertical orientation when possible and the little Fuji was capable of great 8X10's. I now use a Bronica 645RF and like it for all of the above reasons but it isn't nearly as portable as the Fuji was but gives me some focal length choices.
I picked up the GS645 a couple years ago and thoroughly enjoyed it until replacing it with the GF670.
The S and W versions are more fragile when in the bag whereas the 645 is a folder and thus very safe when closed up. When in use you do have to be careful with the bellows. And if you get one with the original bellows, chances are you'll have to replace them at some point. But I'm pretty sure the one I bought had new bellows because they were in very good condition. I've read that the replacements are far more durable than the original bellows because better material is used.
The native portrait orientation takes some getting used to, but if you are committed it is very easy to master. You mentioned not needing a meter but I found the built in meter quite accurate and very handy. You can read more of my thoughts on this camera here. http://chemicalcameras.wordpress.com...-professional/
Did you find the GS645 any less reliable or sturdy than the GF670? Is the main reason for sticking with the GF670 for the larger negative or did that camera feel more assuring in your hands or better ergonomically? I'm thinking one of these two but probably the GS645 since it is cheaper and maybe "upgrading" in the future if I'm OK with the folder limitation and ergonomics.
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I had long dreamed of owning the GF670 some day but honestly I didn't think I could ever afford it. When I saw the GS645 for a reasonable price I thought to myself, "This is the next best thing!" After all, there are very few "modern" folders out there. So I picked it up, found it to be rather quirky, but managed to get used to it, and loved the images I got from it. Then one thing led to another, I received a bit of birthday money, decided to sell a bunch of nice cameras that I wasn't using and pretty soon I had enough in my pocket to get a used GF670! I imagine my prior experience with the GS645 made it easier to get used to the GF670, but I do find the latter camera to be less quirky. I suppose the native portrait orientation is the weirdest thing about the GS645. Also, I find the focus tab and aperture ring easier to find and operate on the GF670. Maybe I just didn't spend enough time with the GS645, but I could never find the aperture ring while looking through the VF and even struggled to find the focus lever. The viewfinder on the GF670 is much larger and brighter than the GS645. Furthermore, the option of going 6x6 or 6x7 is very useful for me. I frequently switch back and forth, most often using 6x7 for landscape and 6x6 for other handheld work.
And even though it may just be my imagination, and as excellent as the lens on the GS645 is, I find the lens on the GF670 to be nothing short of stunning at times. And when you think about it, the GS645 came out in 1983, exactly 30 years ago. The GF670 was released in 2009 and is still in production. It should have the advantage of ever advancing technology. The only thing I wish the GF670 had was a timer shutter release like the GS645 does. One weird thing about the GF670 is that the shutter release is ridiculously quiet; so quiet in fact that you won't even hear it if you are on a busy street.
So while I haven't had the GF670 long enough to comment on reliability or relative sturdiness, I do find the ergonomics of the GF670 preferable, mainly because I don't have to rotate it to shoot landscape orientation. And yet, I do prefer the larger negatives of the 6x6 and 6x7 format. If cost is a big factor the GS645 won't disappoint you. But if you can afford it I know you will absolutely love the GF670.