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.
Well before I spend the money I actually rented it for a one week trip. It might be worth looking into this possibility.
Originally Posted by Graham_Martin
There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
~ Ansel Adams
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.
"Often moments come looking for us". - Robert Frank
"Make good art!" - Neil Gaiman
"...the heart and mind are the true lens of the camera". - Yousuf Karsh
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 2F/2F; 07-30-2011 at 01:13 AM. Click to view previous post history.
"Truth and love are my law and worship. Form and conscience are my manifestation and guide. Nature and peace are my shelter and companions. Order is my attitude. Beauty and perfection are my attack."
- Rob Tyner (1944 - 1991)
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.
Graham from St. Augustine, FL
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I have just returned from Iceland, where I took my Ga645zi, Rolleiflex, and 4x5" Field camera(!!), partly because I didn't know which I'd use more, and partly because I'm clearly CRAZY. Turns out, I struggled to (find good weather to) use the 4x5" as much as I'd liked, but found the Fuji really easy, especially when doing a tour with a group, or a guide (quick and not annoying to anyone). Back home, every neg that I didn't have the lens cap on for is bitingly sharp and perfectly exposed. It almost feels too easy. On the continent, I exposed more rolls through the Rolleiflex, I think because it's just such a nice camera to wander through urban areas with.
All in all an interesting self-test, but this doesn't really help me in my ongoing struggle to pack less weight on travels...
I'm off to Hawaii in two weeks and was debating as to which camera to take. I've not had any experience with the Fuji Rangefinder. Have Mamiya 7II, Bronica RF645 and ETRSI. The Bronica rangefinder is a wonderful mix of small and negative size. I've more lenses for the Mamiya 7ii, but it is larger. The SLR is larger, bulkier and exactly what I don't want to take. I'll also take the Fujifilm X100. BTW.. you can't beat the Mamiya 7 lenses. They start out sharp and then get better. The RF645 is a better point and shoot. I'll probably take the RF645.
Last edited by bwcolor; 07-30-2011 at 08:15 AM. Click to view previous post history.
I have a ~1956 Zeiss Ikon Ercona 6x9 folder on loan to me from Richard Pippin. Apparently it is only worth ~$200, which is ridiculously low in cost if it is in good condition. This thing would be absolutely great for travel. If you are okay with scale focusing, it would be really ideal for b&w.
The old folders are very quiet too. That is one other thing, if you are interested in churches and such: the ga645zi is rather noisy.
But yeah, I sometimes wish I had my ga645zi back, it is a lot of fun. Really good travel and walkaround camera!
The fuji lenses have exceptional contrast.. you get 645 negs that enlarge very well and will really surprise you with fine detail. For portrait subjects you probably wouldn't want so much edge contrast, but for travel / landscape... pow! shazam! Enjoy.
Last edited by keithwms; 07-30-2011 at 08:23 AM. Click to view previous post history.
My travel camera(s) is a tlr (and a 35mm rangefinder).
Great choice. I thought that the slow lens would be a problem, but it really isn't because it is so easy to shoot this camera at very low shutter speeds and still get sharp images. If it shot square, it would be perfect (: