Fuji 645 Rangefinders--opinions please!
My wife and I are thinking of getting one since the Bronica and Mamiya MFs are just a bit out of our price range.
Any comments from fans or foes of the Fuji 645s would be welcome.
I'm very fond of the Fuji cameras. However, my experience is limited to the elder manual ones (not the newer ones with zoom and autofocus). The first camera I used was the folder camera GS645 75mm/f3.4. For some obscure reason I sold it five years ago, but I deeply missed it a year later and I ended up buying the GS645S PRO 60mm/f4 (from KEH.com). First of all: The optics are great performers! I also like the compactness of these cameras, easy to bring along on long journeys. I also find the built in exposure meter very accurate. On the down side is the somewhat plastic finish, thinking of the grip, the advance lever etc... Of course, you're also limited to one fixed lens (but that's not a limit to me). I favor the GS645S over the folder because of the filter thread and the more robust construction. There are reports about the folder indicating it's a bit delicate. However, I never had any problems during the ten years I used it.
I hope these comments helped you a little bit.
Andrew, quite a few years ago I had the folding GS645 with I think the 75mm lens. It was a great camera and the pictures were extremely sharp.
The thing that struck me as a problem for this format was the orientation of the film frame.
That is, the film slot will either be your friend or enemy, depending on whether you will shoot a lot of portraits, or landscapes.
I found that for one type of picture it was perfect, for the other, the camera was always sideways.
Close focusing isn't it's forte, but then again you don't have one of these to take micro photographs.
I had it for a couple of years and only moved it on when a lens I had been searching for a couple of years turned up.
Web Page on the Fuji 645 cameras
I am the happy owner/user of a Fuji 645s. I also own a Fuji 690-III. and a 645W all are Excellent cameras, with superb optics.
Originally Posted by andrewmoodie
If you want close focusing/macro photography in addition to rangefinder focusing you might consider a 2.25X3.25 Crown Graphic with a 125mm Fujinon W lens (I have one of these as well (with a Mamiya 6X7 ProS 120 rollfim back).
Everything is analog - even digital :D
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I have a folder Fuji GS645. It is a great camera. If you get one, make sure that the bellows have been replaced. And knowing when the shutter was last overhauled isn't bad. It is easy to mess up things with the shutter linkage. I've had the camera about 2 years now, and I had to send it in last January to CameraWiz in Virginia to get the shutter repaired. Still don't know what I did to it. The meter seems very good and the rangefinder works well and is bright (though you have to close your left eye when using it - no floating frames). The lens quality has already been mentioned as being superb. This is a 645 camera you can keep in the pocket of your jacket and carry with you always.
If you can get the lenshood do so, as that is the only way to use (40.5mm) filters, but I sometimes just hold a filter in front of the lens when releasing the shutter. Unfortunately the lenshoods are expensive since they tend to pop off and get lost fairly easily.
Having said all of this, I still covet (in no specific order) a Leica M6 or M3 with a Summicron 35mm and a Mamiya 7II (or even a 6) with all 3 lenses. But, not having the funds to purchase those, I'm very happy with my Fuji :-)
"I am an anarchist." - HCB
"I wanna be anarchist." - JR
I also have the GS645S. Very sharp lens!! If a rangefinder suites your needs, this can be a good choice.
I got it because of the Fuji reputation and have not been dissappointed.
I have a folder Fuji 645 GS as well. It's a fairly recent purchase for me, though I bought it used. It shows signs of use, but works splendidly. I too am very impressed with the quality of the lens, and the accuracy of the built-in meter.
The upright orientation of the film frame was a little odd at first, especially as as I was accustomed to either a horizontal orientation or square. You can always rotate the camera, just as you can with any other.
It seems I came to the Fuji in the same way as you - wanting a medium format RF but finding the others being just a bit out of reach. I'm very happy that I did.
I've not used a 645 but I do have the 690 and its a very nice camera. Excellent lens, easy to focus and not too heavy. Compared to my Pentax 6x7 its a delight to use and produces excellent negatives. It's quickly become my favourite camera, more so than my Nikon F6.
I have a GA645Pro. Great camera as a medium format point-and-shoot, but a pain to use manually. If you're willing to use the autofocus and let the camera make a lot of the decisions for you, it's a wonderful camera to carry around. It's hard to believe that you can get such beautiful negatives from such a small camera. (Small here being a relative term, of course.) But if you want full manual control, forget it. The manual focusing on the GA is a kludge at best, and setting both the aperture and shutter speed will drive you nuts. Aperture priority isn't bad, but you really do have to learn to trust the autofocus.
The lens on the camera is fantastic, I've found the autofocus to be extremely reliable, and the meter works very well. I love the fact that the camera will print your exposure data outside of the frame. It's easy to load. Basically, it's a very easy camera to use if you use it as it's intended. But if you want a lot of manual control, I'd recommend looking elsewhere.
I wouldn't give up my Fuji, but be aware of the limitations if you go for one.
Film is cheap. Opportunities are priceless.